Call for Papers-Call for Applications - Part 56

posted by usha on 2006/02/19 09:51

[ Call for Papers-Call for Applications ]

The New Europe College-Institute for Advanced Studies, Bucarest released a Call for Papers, found at H | Soz | U | Kult. Topic of the conference is Familienstrukturen und Sozialbeziehungen in Südosteuropa / Social Behaviour and Family Strategies in the Balkans (15th-20th century)

Understanding of the "other" is a requirement within the new European political framework. Globalisation is a recurrent theme in contemporary discourse, thus requiring an analysis of cultural diversity and of the specific features induced by historical traditions and trajectories. In order to understand differences and propensity to change – or the lack of it, for that matter – a reflection upon the past of each community is indispensable. Social and political developments triggered changes in public life as well as at the level of private life, and gradually transformed the relationship between individuals and social groups, between individuals and institutions, between men and women, between individuals and governments. An interdisciplinary and comparative research can offer, or at least suggest, answers regarding the different cultural arrangements of past and present societies, the lags between various cultures and nations, the regional particularities, etc.

Social relations, ranging from family ties to those connecting an entire community, are crucial for understanding the efficiency of social bonds in certain contexts, and for identifying those symbols and beliefs, even myths that mobilise societies and insure social cohesion.

Our workshop aims at analysing patterns of social cohesion that determined the structure of Balkan societies throughout time. It will also attempt to identify the particularities of these societies, enabling our understanding of issues related to the opening-up and connecting with the West.

The evolution of family and of private life entailed a multitude of social attitudes and family practices, ranging from the extended family with its constraining kinship network to the weakening of blood ties, which was in turn compensated by new patterns of sociability. How did these changes occur, what were the triggering factors, to what extent were they visible and to what degree were they acknowledged both on social and on individual levels, these are some of the questions to which debates in this colloquium might provide answers. These avenues of research have been followed by Western European social sciences for a long time, and several theories and models have suggested directions of investigation.

Research on these topics has made progress in Romania as well; however its results often remain isolated or even unknown. This is why our workshop has the following objectives:

  • to gather specialists from various disciplines and research centres;
  • to form working groups which might continue to collaborate after the workshop is over;
  • to intensify a dialogue on this topic between Romanian and international/regional scholarship, thus encouraging the forging of new concepts and models applicable to Balkan societies;
  • to discuss research methodologies and concepts;
  • to compare social practices and social behaviour within various social, historical and political contexts. A comparative approach will enable us to better understand what are the common grounds, but also the differences between communities from the Balkans;
  • to foster a systematisation of the results of such researches and integrate them in the teaching curricula of the participants in the workshop.
The debates will be organised around several major themes:
  1. Social structures and interactions: from norm to practice
    This theme will focus on those formal or informal institutions that contribute to establish the political, social and legal framework of a given society. The questions will concern the “common good” and how this ideal is understood at an individual level through knowledge of political and judicial systems, relations with authorities and public institutions and their “manipulation”. The accent will be put on the immediate relationship between the individual, family and power, be it political or religious. Moreover, a chronological view shall reveal the shift from the complete authority of the pater familias over all family members to the policies of welfare promoted by the State, aiming at taking over some of the former prerogatives of a family head.
  2. Marriages practices and strategies: clan, family and couple
    The main question of this section concerns the viability of marriage as an institution that has to face the challenges of modernisation in Balkan societies. In other words, depending on the historical ages under study, we invite the participants to identify marriage rituals and customs, the strategies that influenced the formation of families, and their importance in the preservation of family and social structures. How do these rituals evolve and how efficient are they in the construction and deconstruction of a couple? Is there a moment when they become void and meaningless? If so, why are they still performed? Can we identify links between changes in marriage and heritage/legacy practices and new ways of living within a couple?
  3. Solidarities and conflicts: the evolution of social relations at individual, family and group levels
    The position of the individual in his/her own family and group is the starting point for the third section. Which are the main knots around which solidarities coagulate, and how do they change over time? In various periods, family solidarities were formed around land property, religion, love, business or the individual well-being. The same reasons also led to the questioning of the existent models and to the loosening of the family cohesion through conflict situations. The family protects the individual, but does this not limit his/her opportunities of social achievement? Are traditional forms of family solidarity still useful in our society?
  4. Sociability and social control: between constraint and social freedom
    Sociability networks integrate the individual into smaller or larger communities, by offering him/her the necessary social capital for participation in community life, and for social achievement. How do these networks change in relation to the family model that used to be predominant at a certain moment? Belonging to a network does not involve solely advantages but constitutes a clear instrument of social control. Society developed various mechanisms of constriction and censorship of individual behaviour.


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