|“Blame-Games” and “Blame Avoidance”||Seminars and Colloquia||Markus RheindorfRuth WodakMilos Vec||
“Blame-Games” and “Blame Avoidance”
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world both dramatically and irrevocably. For months, politics and media have focused on COVID-19 and the countless facets of its impact of ever more uncertainty and insecurity in our lives. Following Zygmunt Bauman’s Liquid Fear (2006) and Wodak’s The Politics of Fear (2021), it has become evident that a “politics of fear (and hope)” has been reinforced and instrumentalized by numerous national governments, in significantly different ways. Accordingly, the range of discourses appear to have changed equally dramatically, in terms of both subject matter and discursive practices. Has the pandemic truly altered the strategies and mechanisms of mediatized politics? Which well-understood/well-studied discursive patterns and trends – including interdiscursivity, (re)nationalization, securitization – and which discursive strategies – like the blame-game (Rheindorf & Wodak 2018) and blame avoidance (Hansson 2015) are still to be found in times of COVID-19, perhaps in altered forms? Some may have been marginalized, while the pandemic may have acted as a catalyst for others. Drawing on the Discourse-historical Approach (DHA) in Critical Discourse Studies (CDS), we will raise such questions and attempt to answer them through theoretical considerations and empirical evidence.
|Mental Illness as a Cultural and Societal Phenomenon||Seminars and Colloquia||Anna KiedrzynekEric ReinhartLudger Hagedorn||
Mental Illness as a Cultural and Societal Phenomenon
The collapse of communism in the CEE region 30 years ago was the start of a long-term process of sociopolitical change, in which a major transformation of the mental health system was expected. Unfortunately, this transformation is not yet complete. For example, in Poland people with severe mental illnesses and disabilities are treated in large psychiatric institutions and lack access to community-based care. The stigma around people with severe illnesses remains higher there than in Western European countries (according to The Lancet Psychiatry): they face exclusion on many levels and often remain marginalized. It is crucial that mental illnesses is seen, by both academic researchers and journalists, as not just a biological fact but also a societal and cultural phenomenon.
|Narrative Making in the European Capital||Seminars and Colloquia||Ivan VejvodaJulia De Clerck-Sachsse||
Narrative Making in the European Capital
As great power competition increasingly spills over into the information space, a compelling European narrative has become a geopolitical imperative. Europe finds itself in a battle of narratives between democracies and authoritarian regimes that cannot be decided on the basis of facts alone. To resist populist and autocratic forces, the European Union needs to communicate in a more personal and empathetic way demonstrating that its policies can deliver for its citizens. Just as the old adage has it that the personal is always political, the political will need to become more personal if Europe wants to hold its ground in the battle of narratives.
|The Stage of Pre-solidarity||Seminars and Colloquia||Tomasz RakowskiMilos Vec||
The Stage of Pre-solidarity
Speakers: Tomasz RakowskiMilos Vec
Series: Seminars and Colloquia
Tomasz Rakowski's experimental study may reveal elements of recent Polish social history omitted in local knowledge-production. He will focus on enthusiastic building, social deeds, vernacular creativity, and various stages of pre-solidarity in Poland since late socialism. He will discuss the flipside of late socialist modernization in Poland, and its trajectory after 1989, considered as both intimate, unrecognized dimensions of bottom-up statehood practices, and processes of acquiring a kind of latent, almost invisible social and political subjectivity. An experimental, historical-ethnographic methodology may unearth elements of Polish social history kept secret for decades. The study is conducted in the context of the “people’s history”, yet more precise, and based on specially elaborated methodology.
|Migration, Borders and Technologies – An Introduction to Techno-Borderscapes||Seminars and Colloquia||Ayşe Çağlar||
Migration, Borders and Technologies – An Introduction to Techno-Borderscapes
Speakers: Ayşe Çağlar
Series: Seminars and Colloquia
In this presentation, Giorgia Doná discussed the relationship among migration, borders and technologies by examining the role of mobile digital devices in the everyday lives of migrants in transit and their encounters with state agents, humanitarian actors and activists at the border. The concept techno-borderscapes is introduced to rethink transit zones as sites of embodied and virtual interactions that highlight the connections among digital securitisation, humanitarianism and activism. Confronted with increased border securitisation, migrants use mobile technologies to bypass borders, create new forms of migrant-to-migrant protection and assistance, and articulate their political voice. Border spaces are not just ‘in-between’ zones along a unidirectional migratory trajectory but rather transformative and transforming techno-borderscapes.
|Missing Pages of European History||-||Seminars and Colloquia||Ivan VejvodaTeresa Reiter||
Missing Pages of European History
Many people agree that the European Union’s enlargement process is flawed. As a consequence, none of the aspiring EU members meet their targets on the path to membership on time and some do not meet them at all. While Europeans spent a lot of money, time and energy to improve life the region for decades, it is equally true that Europeans made decisions that affected the Western Balkans negatively, too. However, when European history is discussed in the context of the European Union, it is usually mainly about how the treaties were negotiated, how the European institutions developed, and about the vision of the leaders who envisaged the European Union. There are pages missing from the European history book. Arguably, this approach of not dealing with its own role, interests and past with the Western Balkans could be seen as having a negative impact on the enlargement policy the European Union is pursuing today.
|Czernowitz as a Cultural Palimpsest||-||Seminars and Colloquia||Clemena AntonovaIgor Pomerantsev||
Czernowitz as a Cultural Palimpsest
Dissidents can be not only people, but towns. The architecture of Czernowitz in the Soviet empire was dissident. Walking past these buildings, living in them, you could not help but be infected by their spirit. It was a dissident town which gave us, its inhabitants, lessons in beauty, liberty, duty. Czernowitz was a quotation, from another epoch.
|Judges Under Pressure||-||Seminars and Colloquia||Ivan VejvodaJudy Dempsey||
Judges Under Pressure
Two members of the European Union. Two members of NATO. They couldn't be more different.
Poland and Romania are undergoing transformations that could have a profound effect on the rule of law, particularly on the role of independent judges.
Romania has been consistently criticized by reformers, by human rights activists and by organizations trying to combat the rampant corruption for the weak rule of law and for the constant interference by the political elites in the judiciary.
Since 1989, the country's transformation has been long, complicated and delayed by vested interests and indeed the old guard. Its history and culture do play a role in delaying the transformation. But the past cannot be used as an excuse to postpone a long overdue institutionalization of the rule of law and make the judiciary genuinely independent.
As for Poland, it was supposed to be a kind of model for other countries making the transformation from communism to democracy. But since 2005, a year after Poland joined the European Union, Law and Justice, a nationalist, conservative party, has been doing everything possible to overturn the gains of the post-1989 period.
Its first stint in power was too short-lived for the party to achieve its goal: adapting the law to implement its agenda. But since 2015, it has chiseled away at the fundamental aspects of the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.
There are a lot of "whys" with regard to what is happening in Poland and Romania. This will be the topic of my presentation on 4 November.
|Letters to Enver Hoxha||-||Seminars and Colloquia||Nikolai AntoniadisMilos Vec||
Letters to Enver Hoxha
Speakers: Nikolai AntoniadisMilos Vec
Series: Seminars and Colloquia
From after World War II until his death in 1985, thousands of Albanians wrote letters to Enver Hoxha, a mixture of trivial everyday concerns and exceptional episodes that are tragic, heart-warming and absurd in equal measure. These letters were meticulously archived by the authorities, discussed and acted upon. Put in context, they reveal an abysmal world in which the Party was in control of all aspects of life – a national trauma that has not been addressed to this day.
|People of the Mountain||-||Seminars and Colloquia||Ivan VejvodaKapka Kassabova||
People of the Mountain
For millennia, the people of the Mesta Valley have lived in an intimate relationship with their environment. Kapka Kassabova's enquiry is into the nature of this relationship as it survives today, after a succession of mass traumas in the 20th century have made their mark. They include political persecution during Communism, economic upheaval in the wake of the collapse of the planned economy, environmental degradation during and after Communism, migration, endemic state corruption, climate change, and a generational shift from a traditional, agricultural way of life towards a globalised, digitalised, uprooted way of life. His focus is on the Pomak (indigenous Muslim) and mixed villages here. An interesting phenomenon can be observed: permanent emigration is rare. These communities are held together by invisible factors that cannot be accounted for by pure economics.
The villages of the Mesta Valley are remarkable for several things: their exceptionally rich biosphere where some of Europe’s cleanest foods, animals, and medicinal herbs thrive; their rich tradition of cultural syncretism; their existential endurance in the face of trauma, and the fact that they export the greatest amount of cheap seasonal labour to Western Europe – the fruit pickers, planters, and builders on whom the wealthier European economies depend.