JVF Conference 29

Beyond Ethnic Cleansing: Demographic Surgery in European History [1]

Ethnic cleansing is generally recognized as a major feature of modern European history, especially of the extremely violent first half of the 20th century.[2] While this is certainly a plausible description, this is only a part of a bigger story: in this short essay, I will argue that ethnic cleansing was just one of the …
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Climbing the Stairs.
On the Progress of Society and Science in Norbert Elias’s Theory

The metaphor of a population climbing the stairs of a tower was used by Norbert Elias to depict the development of human knowledge. I propose to interpret it as an image of progress, both of humanity as a whole and of science as a specialized, detached type of social knowledge. After commencing with a discussion of the roles played by metaphors in social sciences in general, I go on to decode the heuristic potential of the climbing picture, presenting certain aspects of Elias’s philosophy of human relations and ethics of social sciences. I argue that Elias’s approach may serve as a new picture of scientific and social progress, distinctly different from and independent of its Enlightenment and evolutionary predecessors, although resembling them in their optimism and belief in the controlling function of rationality.
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Antonio Ferrara

IWM Junior Visiting Fellows’ Conferences, Vol. XXIX © 2011 by the authors Readers may redistribute this article to other individuals for noncommercial use, provided that the text and this note remain intact. This article may not be reprinted or redistributed for commercial use without prior written permission from the author. If you have any questions …
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Traces of/by nature:
August Strindberg’s photographic experiments of the 1890’s

The following paper centers on August Strindberg’s photograms of the 1890’s and their relation to an attributed capacity of photography – its apparent ability to capture a picture automatically, without human interference – and the nineteenth century conceptualization of photographic objectivity which followed from this attribution. Strindberg’s notions of nature and chance play a crucial …
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The dead body of the leader as an organizing principle of socialist public space:
The mausoleum of Georgi Dimitrov in Sofia

Historical and spatial frame On September 9, 1944, a long period of socialist governance in Bulgaria was begun with the overthrow of the government by the left-party coalition, Fatherland Front. In its aftermath, the city center of Sofia was subjected to an intensive reshaping that aimed at recreating, in visual codes, the new ideological identity …
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Polish anti-Semitism: The last European closet, cultural code, or social problem?

Genealogy The beginning of twentieth century, precisely having in mind the period between 1905 and 1914, involved a certain matrix of Polish-Jewish relations[1]. The spread of political anti-Semitism had led to a serious alteration in the Polish attitude to the Jews. No less important significant for Polish-Jewish relations was the powerful rise of Jews in …
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Intersex athletes: Do we need a gender police in professional sports?

During last year’s Athletics World Championships in Berlin, two athletes absorbed most of the public attention: Usain Bolt and Caster Semenya. Bolt was celebrated for his world records in the men’s 100m and the 200m dash. Semenya, whose performance in the women’s 800m run was as dominating as Bolt’s, was facing allegations that she was …
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From “neutrality” to dialogue:
Constructing the religious other in British non-religious discourses

Abstract: Traditionally, the “secular mindset” has been thought of as a nonentity, the absence of a substance (religion) rather than a substance itself. If it has been seen to exist at all, this existence has involved the sole characteristic of being “neutral” towards all religion. In recent years, however, many have argued that the secular …
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Between the catastrophe and the promised return: Palestinian refugee trajectories and conceptions of time in Lebanon

This paper is based on 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork for my Ph.D. dissertation. The dissertation is called Refugee Lives: Ritual and Belonging in Two Palestinian Refugee Camps in Lebanon,[1] and it is a comparative ethnography of one Muslim (Al-Jalil) and one Christian Palestinian refugee camp (?bay eh) in Lebanon. It utilizes a ritual approach …
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1914: The old world, the new world, and the end of the world

Introduction Apocalyptic text production is closely related to certain events: The earthquake of Lisbon (1755), the Eruption of Mount Tambora (1815) and the year without a summer (1816) are incidents which stimulated apocalypticism in European poetry. The year 1914 usually stands for Sarajevo and the catastrophe of the First World War. In the same period, …
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