Friendship and the Nation

Friendship and the Nation

Thomas Kühne, Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, Worcester, U.S.A.; Danny Kaplan, Gender Studies and Sociology, Bar-Ilan University
Vom - Bis
03.03.2010 - 07.03.2010
Thomas Kühne

CFP: Friendship and the Nation (3-7 March 2010, Luxembourg)

We are inviting proposals for an interdisciplinary workshop and a subsequent volume on “Friendship and the Nation.” The goal of the workshop is to explore how friendship, as both a social tie and a cultural construct, is involved in the shaping of national cultures, and in turn how the national shapes the ties friendship.
Current scholarship on modern nationalism underscores the emergence of national identity in terms of the transformations of face-to-face interactions into ties between distant others. Some have also documented the significance of friendship and fraternity as a forceful metaphor for national ties. Yet by emphasizing anonymous or metaphorical aspects of national solidarity, researchers have ignored the impact of face-to-face relationships, organizational-social networks and public events on the development, the organization and the attraction of modern nation states and national movements.

Where current scholarship often focuses on the ways that the nation produces exclusionary practices with relation to its others perceived as strangers and enemies we seek to uncover the taken for granted cultural mechanisms of inclusion that render members of the nation into companions and friends. Reminding of Aristotle’s famous argument that friendship can serve as a model for the practice of citizenship, we seek for discussions that explore how individual expressions of friendship affect the public-political sphere and in turn how emotions of friendship are induced, managed and constrained by state institutions, the media, the education system, military and other agents of national socialization.

We invite related proposals from the social sciences and humanities that present a case-study or address a theoretical debate. We are particularly interested in contrasting innovative research from different regions of the world and different time periods since the 18th century. Possible frameworks and questions include:

Sociology and politics of emotions. The nation-state distinguished itself from earlier forms of rule by building a more intimate relationship with its population, encouraging public interactions based on an authentic expression of the self. Contemporary therapeutic discourse further encourages manifestation of emotionality in the public sphere. How do expressions of friendship mediate between the stress on the emotional self and national modes of identification?

Collective memory. We invite studies in collective memory that explore the emotional economy of commemoration through the role of friendship in rituals of commemoration and public events (including media events). Whereas Benedict Anderson suggests that the anonymity of the sacrificial dead represents the abstract quality of “imaging the nation,” we ask how familiarizing with the dead, the living and the living-dead has become central to national identification.

Social Networks: Following studies on the historical role played by civic associations and social networks in promoting civic society we ask how interactions of sociability at the mezzo-level of organizations affect the national sphere, including networks in governance, work and commercial settings, military and social activism.

The conference will be held on 3-7 March 2010 in Luxembourg and is designed to prepare an edited volume. Paper givers will be asked to present first drafts of their book chapters for precirculation among participants and for intensive discussion at the conference. Funds for accommodation and modest travel reimbursement are provided by the generosity of Henry J. Leir, the Leir Foundation and the Henry J. Leir Luxembourg Program--Clark University.

Interested applicants should submit: (1) title and one-page abstract of their paper; (2) CV and list of publications; (3) institutional affiliation or place of residence; (4) optionally a publication sample related to the current topic.
Please submit materials by 30 July 2009 to both emails below:

Danny Kaplan
Gender Studies and Sociology
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel

Thomas Kühne
Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Clark University, Worcester, Mass., U.S.A.



Thomas Kühne

Clark University
Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
950 Main St
Worcester, MA 01610, USA
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