South-Eastern Europe: History, Cultures, Boundaries
London, June 1999
Call for papers SOUTH-EASTERN EUROPE: History, Cultures, Boundaries Contributions are invited for a one-day conference entitled South-Eastern Europe: History, Cultures, Boundaries, organized by the Centre for South-East European Studies, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, London, on June 19, 1999. Proposals (maximum length one page A4) should be sent with a covering letter by not later than mid-March, 1999, to the organizing committee, care of: Alex Drace-Francis [firstname.lastname@example.org] and/or Wendy Bracewell SSEES Senate House, Malet Street London WC1E 7HU UK [email@example.com] Taking into account the dramatic changes in the shape of European political and social structures in the last ten years, the organisers propose a discussion aimed at examining definitions of the area, and at establishing the place of South-Eastern Europe in the European whole. South-Eastern Europe has for a long time been defined as marginal. Whether this is a mere reflection of its geographical position and its actual characteristics or rather a consequence of its treatment in historical, cultural and other humanist study, is a moot point; and one that has been the subject of increasing debate in both academic and political circles. Its historical development has been substantially different from that of Western Europe; but unlike other areas of the globe (The New World, the Orient), that have been subjected to a discourse of alterity, South-Eastern Europe is most often articulated by the West not so much as an other as a transitional zone, between East and West, between conceptions of the civilised and the barbarian, between Europe and Asia. The region was deeply imbued early on with what are seen as founding elements of European culture; but has also missed the material fruits of such an inheritance, as enjoyed in the West. South Eastern Europe has been a major participant in, not just a witness to,the historical, political and cultural experiences of twentieth-century Europe; and its inhabitants feel the effects of fin-de-siecle (post-)modernity as strongly as any other Europeans. Against this background a series of discussions will be organised which address the many specific difficulties to be met when attempting to define the region, and particularly the problems in situating study of South-Eastern Europe within existing disciplinary and area categories, whether old or new. Such a problem can be addressed from many different intellectual and disciplinary positions, and contributions from the fields of history, anthropology, literary and cultural studies, political science and political theory, linguistics, sociology and geography (among others) are welcomed. The organizers are particularly keen to interrogate the problematics of the received disciplinary traditions (most of which originated in Western Europe) in studying the region. European history and literary studies tended to make light of South-Eastern Europe, concentrating on the role and achievements of the Great Power states; anthropology largely ignored it until recently, in favour of studying non-European peoples. For the study of nationalism, on the other hand, the region has been casually referred to for negative models at least since the writings of Mill and Renan, while in international relations The Eastern Question was viewed as a paradigmatic problem. The organizers have drawn up the following list of potential questions and themes for debate. There will not be time to address all of them: rather, a selection will be made following the receipt of proposals for papers. Short, incisive contributions are sought, and the timing of presentations should be limited to 15 minutes. Contributions are likely to be organized into panels of four speakers each with a moderator. Contributors are encouraged to grasp the problems of the region as a whole as far as possible; local or national case studies are not excluded, but must be aimed at addressing the stated questions of defining the region, and of the problems of discipline or area study. 1. Definitions - Questions surrounding the terms Balkans and South-Eastern Europe. - What is it that defines the region? Who gets to define, to what ends? - Boundaries. How big is the region? What are its margins? - Who and what is the region's "other"? - How does South Eastern Europe- or component parts - stand in relation to Europe? 2. Making Cultures - Is there such a thing as Balkan "culture(s)"? - Problems of comparability and representativity of cultural products and processes. - Who creates culture(s) and to what ends? - Change & diversity in South-East European culture. - Is there a distinctive culture/politics relationship in South-Eastern Europe? - Political cultures: attitudes to authority, discipline, legitimacy, responsibility. - Anthropological perpectives on cultural strategies in South-East Europe: agents & intentions in the construction of official culture; regional and global cultures. - High/low and elite/popular cultures: problems of definition, origination, dissemination, appropriation, consumption. - How are new factors affecting cultural politics? 3. History: creations and constraints - To what extent is South-East European history shared? - How does South-East European history relate to that of the rest of Europe - How is contemporary (political) action shaped by historical experience? And what are the relevant experiences? - Do certain historiographical concepts constrain our understanding of the role of the past in shaping the present? (nation-building; frontier status; legacies?) - How are interpretations of the past produced, imposed, contested, manipulated; and to whose ends? What factors constrain its reception and interpretation? - The role of historical events and discourses in shaping collective memory. Note: the adoption of the term "South-Eastern Europe" by the organisers does not mean that it may not be equally exposed to debate during the course of the seminar's proceedings. On the contrary: contributions addressing this problem are especially welcome.