When the communist regimes in Europe collapsed in 1989–90, many observers predicted a relatively short “transition” from communism to market economy and plural democracy. More than twenty years later it is obvious that post-socialist Europe has not reached the “end of history” but is still undergoing deep changes in almost all spheres of life. This is particularly true for Southeast Europe: people have to adapt not only to the challenges of transformation but also of EU accession and globalization. All these changes bear heavily on everyday life and culture, resulting in new patterns of social, economic, and political organization and new cultural practices.
Southeast Europe has thus rightfully been called a laboratory of transformative processes. Democracies were established, property was redistributed, social and labour relations changed, and new cultural models emerged. Furthermore, innovative communicative and productive technologies were introduced which affected the position of individuals and groups towards each other. For very many in the region, these changes meant new insecurities and even losses, while for others they brought chances and real gains. The societies have not only acquired new structures and shapes, but have also become more unequal than they used to be. These changes pertain not only to the formerly socialist countries but also to Greece and Turkey. It seems that Southeast Europe, which used to be considered a repository of old traditions, has become one of the most dynamic regions in Europe. But the dynamics are multi-vectored.
While many in Southeast Europe consider “Europe” and the “West” as the model to be fol-lowed, it is obvious for the observer of Southeast European everyday reality that many adaptations to global transformative pressures take on specific and sometimes even idiosyncratic forms. Southeast European societies provide new evidence for the variegated, multi-stranded nature of modernity. Many observers stress the coincidence of hypermodernity in some spheres and strong traditionalism, or even resistance to change in others. Other ob-servers conclude that the notion of “modernity” is not a viable concept to analyse the new realities pointing to the fact that already the communists had considered themselves the embodiment of modernity. So, how to conceptualize the post-communist period? In some respect, Southeast Europe even appears more “post-modern” (or “modern”?) than Western Europe, where achievements of the welfare state which neoliberal reformers consider out-dated are still in place.
For native and foreign researchers these different forms of (post) modernity make Southeast Europe a fascinating and at the same time challenging field of research. The region provides ample material for an anthropology of change: by focusing on the lived experiences of groups and individuals ethnologists and anthropologists can contribute to the better under-standing of these ambivalent processes. They are able to observe and theorise the impact of the reconfiguration of political, social, and economic power on the everyday lives of real people and, thus, provide vital information and insight which macro-perspectives often ignore.
After twenty years of rapid change in Southeast Europe it is time to analyse and discuss these new configurations and patters that have emerged in the region. At the same time, the Southeast European experience should make us question long standing assumptions about the nature of “modernity”, which far too long was equated with the “Western experience”. For the 6th InASEA conference in Regensburg, Germany, we therefore invite paper and panel proposals from anthropologists, ethnologists and scholars from neighbouring disciplines which discuss the impact of the transformative processes on the everyday life and culture in Southeast Europe.
We especially invite proposals that address one of the following themes:
- Conceptualizing “tradition”, “modernity” and “post-modernity”
- Coping with the challenges of change: adaptation, appropriation, resistance
- Social groups and new life styles
- Dimensions of social and cultural exclusion
- Cultures of the new elites
- The reconfiguration of political and economic power
- Gender relations after socialism
- Changing faces of labour and labour relations
- Impact of the new communication technologies
- Modalities of consumption
- Forms and uses of material culture
- Changing modes of leisure
- New cultural tastes: entertainment, media, heroes, stars
- Family, kinship and generational relations
- Sexuality between commercialization and liberation
- “(Post) modern” religion and faith
- Historical experiences of change in everyday life
- Modernization theory and Southeast Europe
- Anthropological theories and methods of studying social change
Paper proposals are to be sent to the conference organizers by July 18, 2010. The form for paper proposals can be downloaded at the conference website.
Only proposals using this form will be considered. Proposals should refer to the most appropriate conference theme and specify the technical equipment needed for the paper presentation.
Invited panel proposals are also welcome. The panel organizer(s) should submit the panel title, a 200–250 word panel abstract, as well as a list of the three to four planned presenters including all the information about individual papers detailed above using the paper proposal form.
The papers may be proposed and presented in one of the three InASEA official languages, i.e. English, French or German.
Paper proposals are to be sent to:
- Prof. Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer (University of Regensburg)
- Rosemarie Scheid (secretary of Prof. Brunnbauer)
Participants will be notified in November 2010 about the acceptance of their paper.