What Do Ideas Do?

Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XXXIII
IWM, Vienna 2014 [Published on the Web]

Edited by: Agata Lisiak and Natalie Smolenski

Contributions by: Assaf Ashkenazi, Mariya Ivancheva, Agata Lisiak, Matthew Maguire, Kinga Marulewska, Oskar Mulej, Christina Plank, Krisztina Rácz, Volodymyr Sklokin, Natalie Smolenski, and Gregory Winger

What Do Ideas Do?

The theme of this year’s Junior Fellows’ Conference, held in December of 2013, was “Reflections on the Role of Ideas and Agency in Europe.” This is an important time to bring to the fore the interplay between human thought and human action, given the inadequacy of the great ideological systems which have remade (and continue …
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Women in Recent Revolutionary Iconography

The uprisings and protest movements of 2011 (the so-called Arab Spring, indignados, Occupy Wall Street, etc.) have been widely considered groundbreaking because of their leaderless structures. Owing to the absence of unequivocally leading figures, the symbolic and practical role of urban space has been emphasized in popular media and scholarship alike. Next to the widely circulated and discussed images of Tahrir Square, Puerta del Sol, and Zucotti Park, however, another type of image has been prevalent, that of a revolutionary woman. In response to W.J.T. Mitchell's article "Image, Space, Revolution: The Arts of Occupation" (2012), I argue that the reasons for the focus of recent revolutionary imagery on women cannot be reduced to the allegedly feminine character of nonviolence, but are much more complex and entail far-reaching consequences. I engage with two images Mitchell quotes as iconic of the 2011 revolutions – the ballerina from the Occupy Wall Street poster and the "blue bra girl" beaten and disrobed by the military police in Tahrir Square – and discuss their cultural and historical significance. These two images, I argue, represent two major tropes prevalent in revolutionary iconography: woman as a symbol of revolutionary ideals and woman as a symbol of the failure of revolution. Further, I propose that revolutionary images centered on women, both real-life and fictional, belong to what Ariella Azoulay calls the "language of revolution".

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Continuity in Rupture:
The Paradoxical History of the Women’s Movement in Bulgaria

This paper briefly narrates the history of the Bulgarian women’s movement. I make two claims: On the one hand, I show that, due to two abrupt regime changes in 1944 and 1989, it is difficult to speak of one women’s movement in Bulgaria. Even though a movement dealing with women’s issues has long been present in Bulgaria, there has been little to no continuity in terms of membership and processes of learning between movements in different historical eras (before 1944, 1944-1989, and since 1989). On the other hand, however, I argue that there is a paradoxical continuity within this movement. Despite changes in the actors involved and the frames utilized by the movement in different historical periods, it has largely been the purview of an establishment of elite women, well-positioned to cooperate with the state and international high-level political actors, but with few links to the grassroots. A picture emerges of a movement characterized by an elite-driven continuity of rupture: a repeated a historical pattern in which elites skilled in the accumulation and management of state capital abolish and re-found the women’s movement anew.
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God in History:
Collapsing Divine and Human Agency in John Paul II’s Memory and Identity

The late John Paul II’s theology of history involves some collapse of the agency of divine objects and of human beings. A close reading of his last book, Memory and Identity, shows that John Paul’s divine objects are multiple and that he describes them most frequently using metaphors of close kinship, particularly parents and children. For this reason, it is useful to read his work with psychoanalytic theories of “self-objects,” which are objects (primarily caregivers) used by small children to develop a sense of self. In addition, given the collective nature of John Paul’s divine objects, I draw on anthropological theories about collective participation in imaginal phenomena to move the focus to the larger scale of the Polish nation-state. I show that the theologico-political claims in Memory and Identity reflect a troubling exclusivist grandiosity which must be addressed by Catholic thinkers interested in shaping the moral work of a global Church.
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Schmitt’s Political Theology as a Methodological Approach

In his two essays Carl Schmitt described a specific approach called by him a political theology. The exact interpretation of this method and its limits has not been clearly set, as there are at least two main aspects of Schmitt’s political theology. The first one is his strictly specified view of the relation between theology and the political sphere, which situates him in a long tradition of theologico-political reflection. However, this paper focuses mainly on the second aspect: political theology understood as a theory of conceptual history. Core features of Schmitt’s methodological approach seem promising for research conducted in the different fields of the modern humanities.
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Historians as Public Intellectuals:
The Case of Post-Soviet Ukraine

This article explores the participation of Ukrainian academic historians in public intellectual activity after the fall of state socialism. First, it reviews the general debate on public intellectuals and the intelligentsia that has taken place in Ukraine during last twenty years. Then it proceeds to analyze the participation of Ukrainian historians in public intellectual work, delineating different genres of and approaches to such work. I distinguish between two types of historian public intellectuals: dogmatic and non-dogmatic. My analysis demonstrates that the participation of Ukrainian historians in public intellectual activity not only reflects the dynamics of the discussion about the social relevance of history within the historical profession, but also shows an alternative tendency, “critical public history,” which moves beyond the limitations of either affirmative, deconstructionist or “history for its own sake” approaches to the practical functions of historiography. This tendency remains weak and undertheorized, but it reflects attempts, since the fall of the USSR, to transform Ukrainian academic history writing and adapt it to the new situation of a Ukrainian multi-ethnic, democratic state which exists in an increasingly globalizing world.
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Vernacular Multiculturalism:
Hungarian Youth in Vojvodina

The paper combines the scholarly literature on multiculturalism, youth and ethnic identification in the context of postmodern identity politics. The aim of the paper is to discuss the applicability and the shortcomings of these three bodies of literature with regard to the case study of Hungarian youth in Vojvodina, Serbia. The paper presents the main points of the above-mentioned three theories in the context of the case study focusing on the ambiguity between on one hand fluid identities as explained by postmodern theories of identification and on the other hand the still very present ethno-national communal focus of young people. What this means for the case of Hungarian youth in Vojvodina is that while in official discourses of multiculturalism ethnic communities are seen and presented as actively interacting, in practice, social contacts often are reduced to individuals sharing ethnic belonging. After linking the implications of the outlined theoretical debates with some key topics hat have emerged from the interviews with young Hungarian people in a community in Serbia, the paper calls for an analytical framework that can account for the gap between the theory and practice of multiculturalism that can explain the process of identity construction among the informants of the research.
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Understanding Semi-Peripheral Statehood in a post-Soviet Context

The fast-changing events in Ukraine evoke once more the question of how to understand the Ukrainian state. Instead of following concepts that depict Ukraine as “weak”, “captured”, or “incomplete”, I propose to analyse the Ukrainian state as “a social relation”. Applying this Poulantzian understanding enables us to link the state in a narrow sense with society and thus permits analysis of its transformation. Approaches focusing on the shortcomings of the state dominate analyses of contemporary Ukraine, but fail to take into account the conflicts within the state. They consider the specific regional legacies purely in negative terms and presume the superiority of an idealised Western state model while denying its historical origins. A Poulantzian approach allows us to see the Ukrainian state in the context of the international political economy by understanding the Ukrainian oligarchs as a transnational internal bourgeoisie and mapping international influence via the category of interiorisation. The national discourse, whilst an important element of establishing hegemony, needs to be overcome. Distinguishing between the “good” West (the EU and the USA) and the “bad” East (Russia) contributes to obscuring socio-economic problems in Ukraine.
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Governance Beyond Governments?
The Regulation of Corporate Non-Financial Reporting

This paper uses the case of corporate non-financial reporting to examine the relationship between private business regulation—that is, regulation by non-state actors—and public policy. Looking at developments in Europe in particular, I examine the role of organizations like the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), and the United Nations Global Compact (GC) in laying the groundwork for mandatory corporate non-financial reporting legislation at both the national and EU level. I argue that these (and other) organizations have commanded much of the agenda-setting and rule-making processes, resulting in new global norms with widespread legitimacy and influence. In turn, I find that public policy builds on the strengths of private regulation while simultaneously addressing its weaknesses, namely problems of implementation and enforcement. The result is a growing coalescence of support behind newly established rules and frameworks that is likely to influence the behavior of companies, governments, and other organizations far beyond the confines of Europe.
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The Velvet Gauntlet:
A Theory of Defense Diplomacy

Defense diplomacy, also known as military diplomacy, is the nonviolent use of military forces through activities like officer exchanges and ship visits to further a country's international agenda. Despite existing in various forms for centuries, strikingly little scholarly attention has been paid to this practice or its use as a tool of statecraft. My essay seeks to resolve this oversight by critically examining the concept of defense diplomacy itself. In particular, I endeavor to resolve the conceptual ambiguity that has plagued the term "defense diplomacy" since it was first used by the British government in the 1990s. Breaking with the existing approaches to defense diplomacy, I identify the concept as a variant of soft power which is used to co-opt the strategic thinking of another state. By linking defense diplomacy to the concept of soft power, my work not only encapsulates the practices as it is currently used by governments today, but also illustrates the underlying mechanism that makes defense diplomacy an effective geopolitical tool.
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National Liberal Heirs of the Old Austria:
“Deviations” in Liberal Party Traditions, 1867-1918

This paper provides a historical sketch of the developments of national liberal party traditions among Czechs, Germans, and Slovenes in the Cisleithanian half of the Habsburg Monarchy. It points out certain far-reaching transformations – structural as well as ideological – that these traditions underwent during the last quarter of the 19 th century and at the beginning of the 20 th century. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the complex interplay between ideologies, organized political movements, and political languages within the context of a rapidly changing political culture was the changing relationship between the national and liberal components within national liberalism. By 1900 the national came to visibly prevail over the liberal: nationalism was gaining in strength and intensity and was adopting new, more aggressive and integralist forms. The political parties stemming from the national liberal traditions were undergoing a process of fragmentation and their attempts to adjust to the unfolding political realities were mostly unsuccessful. The result was ideological diffusion, continuous loss of liberal identity, as well as adoption of new labels, employed either to mask liberalism or do away with it. From the turn of the century onwards it is therefore more proper to talk about “heirs of liberalism” in terms of party politics rather than simply “liberals”.
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The Importance of Transliteration in the Hebrew Amadís de Gaula

This article inquires into the specifics of transliteration in the 16 th century Hebrew translation of Amadís de Gaula (Book I). The Spanish original version was considered a bestseller in the 16 th century, it was translated into several European languages, and later became one of the main inspirations for Miguel de Cervantes’ masterpiece Don Quixote. The Hebrew version of the first book of Amadís de Gaula was produced around the third decade of the 16 th century by a Sephardic Jew, Yaakov de Algaba, and printed by Eliezer Soncino in the Ottoman Empire. The unique function of transliteration in the Hebrew Amadís – specifically, its rare employment in the text – indicates a translational tension: violation of the norms of the target (i.e. Jewish) culture on the one hand and preservation of its contemporary literary and linguistic restraints on the other hand. A close analysis of this phenomenon, I argue, may shed a light on our understanding of the developments of the Hebrew language in the 19 th and 20 th centuries, as well as the transition of Hebrew literary centers from Europe to Israel after World War II.
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