2013. január 30., szerda

Ingyenesen elérhető anyagok: Verso, letöltő, társadalmi nem, posztkolonializmus

Két fontos open access (és ehhez kapcsolódó) forráshely: egy Verso kiadóhoz kapcsolódó és egy twitteres.

Ezen túl, 2010 ősze óta működik egy társadalmi nemekről szóló, évente kétszer megjelenő folyóirat (Társadalmi Nemek Tudománya Interdiszciplináris eFolyóirat), amely ingyenesen elérhető. Illetve, a Szépirodalmi Figyelőben megjelent egy tematikus blokk Kelet-Európa és posztkolonializmus témájában.

Kelet-Európa és posztkolonializmus

Ösztöndíj, nyári kurzusok

Két gyors infó:

A Balassi Intézet ösztöndíj-lehetőségei hallgatók és PhD-hallgatók számára (részképzés, tanulmányút stb.).

A CEU - borsos árú - nyári kurzusai.

2013. január 24., csütörtök

Special issue of Journal of Industrial Ecology: Sustainable Urban Systems

Like organisms, cities need energy, water, and nutrients, and they need to dispose of wastes and byproducts in ways that are viable and sustainable over the long run. This notion of "urban metabolism" is a model for looking systematically at the resources that flow into cities and the wastes and emissions that flow out from them-to understand the environmental impacts of cities and to highlight opportunities for efficiencies, improvements, and transformation.

Yale University's Journal of Industrial Ecology is pleased to announce a special issue on Sustainable Urban Systems that focuses on the integration of engineered infrastructures, people, and natural systems in the pursuit of environmentally sustainable cities.

This special issue examines topics such as the contribution of cities to global warming, opportunities for better management of waste electronics and storm water, and the use and fate of phosphorus--a resource that is both potentially scarce and polluting. The special issue presents research on 11 cities around the world including New York City, Delhi, Denver, Melbourne and London.

The Journal of Industrial Ecology <http://www.wileyonlinelibrary.com/journal/jie>  is a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, owned by Yale University, published by Wiley-Blackwell and headquartered at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.  It is the official journal of the International Society for Industrial Ecology <http://www.is4ie.org>.

Articles in the special issue are freely-downloadable for limited time at:

Métropoles különszám: alternatív városfejlesztési szakpolitikák

We are planning a special issue of Métropoles (a journal of urban studies which publishes articles written either in French or English) on alternative urban development policies. Abstracts should be sent by the 31st of March 2013. Please find below the complete call and feel free to circulate it widely!
Kind regards,
Max Rousseau

Many urban scholars have argued that the last three decades have been characterized by dynamics of homogenization and standardization of urban policies around entrepreneurial objectives (Harvey, 1989, Hall and Hubbard, 1996; Moulaert et al., 2005). These processes have been accompanied by the dissemination of “good practices” (Espaces et Sociétés, 2007) such as “cultural-led regeneration projects”, the construction of business districts, the creation of shopping centers, recreational facilities or new transport infrastructures, the policies of urban sustainability, the hosting of major sport events or the strategies to enhance image through urban marketing, etc. All these policies and urban projects seem to pursue the same objective: to (re)develop the city by making it more attractive to the post-Fordist firms and mobile social groups (high-skilled students, the "creative class", tourists ...) in order to strengthen its position in the new international division of production and consumption. This trend is the product of the interaction of several dynamics such as the introduction of neoliberal dogma in urban governance (Brenner and Theodore, 2002; Béal and Rousseau, 2008), the acceleration of the flow of ideas and concepts among urban elites (McCann and Ward, 2011; Peck, 2011), the weakening of the link between local governments and urban societies (Pinson, 2009) or the rise of the financial sector in the production of urban spaces (Renard, 2008; Aalbers, 2012). Amid the ongoing destabilization of the economic base of many cities, these factors explain why key actors in urban governance rely increasingly on mainstream solutions whose effectiveness are only validated by the debatable success of highly specific – and arguably unrepeatable – models such as the widely publicized cases of Glasgow (culture), Hamburg (creative industries) or Barcelona (prestigious sporting events). Recent researches also demonstrate that this trend is not confined to the cities from the global North. The neoliberal "best practices" also spread in the global South, leading to the implementation of entrepreneurial urban development strategies in Africa (Murray, 2011; Myers, 2011), Latin America (Portes and Roberts, 2005) and Asia (Wu, 2003; Broudehoux, 2007; Dupont, 2011).

However, this generalization of mainstream strategies should not obscure the existence of alternative urban development policies. By "alternative", we mean the set of initiatives, projects or strategies supported by the local authorities and that seek to redirect urban development away from the entrepreneurial model. These alternative urban policies have three main characteristics:
  1. They are not designed in a top-down perspective or by policy circles dominated by senior politicians, experts or businessmen. Alternative urban policies are elaborated in a bottom-up perspective in which urban society – including the most disadvantaged social or ethnic groups – is the driving force.
  2. They are not only organized through market mechanisms. Alternative urban policies are not primarily intended to support pre-existing growth dynamics. Rather, they seek to establish political or "social" regulations in order to limit "uneven development" in contemporary cities.
  3. They are not intended to rebuild the city for the more affluent social groups or for the "visitor class" (Eisinger, 2000), but above all for the people already present in the city. Alternative urban policies differ from neoliberal urban policies insofar they use public resources to address the situation of disadvantaged groups, without the intervention of the so-called "trickle-down effect".

Alternative urban development policies are heterogeneous in their objectives (redistribution, preservation, etc.) and in the nature of the municipal resources they use (planning decisions, financial support of local initiatives, transfers of expertise etc.). They may relate to various fields such as urbanism (de-growth strategies, land trusts, anti-gentrification or anti-speculation initiatives, etc..), local economy (alternative local currencies or local exchange systems, cooperative firms, etc..), finance (tontines, credit unions operating at the scale of the district or the city, etc..), environment ("transition town" movement, free public transport initiatives, etc..), food supply (urban agriculture, local food systems, etc..) or governance (participatory budgets, self-management, etc.).
Are local government forced to design and implement neoliberal urban development policies? This special issue considers that the relative decline of the state in the regulation of the economy and society and the current economic crisis could open a space for the development of alternative urban strategies. If there is now a substantial literature on entrepreneurial urban strategies, academic work on alternative urban development policies is less developed. Despite some interesting case studies, there are only few systemic analyses which try to draw more general conclusion regarding the development of alternative urban policies.

The purpose of this special issue is to contribute to fill this gap. It seeks to bring together articles, covering cities from the global North as well as the global South, which meet at least one of the four following objectives:
  1. Describing alternative urban development policies through case studies. What are the contents and objectives of these policies? How and why have they emerged? What kind of actors and groups are involved in these policies?
  2. Contextualizing alternative urban development policies. We expect articles questioning the socio-political and economic conditions triggering the emergence, implementation and stabilization of these policies. Are they more likely to emerge in cities with specific characteristics? Does the presence or the absence of any peculiar actors play a role?
  3. Evaluating alternative urban development policies. How does their content differ from mainstream urban development policies? Do these policies still fulfill their original objectives? What dangers lurk them, and ultimately, are they doomed to be institutionalized?
  4. Developing conceptual or theoretical approaches for answering the question why and how alternative urban development policies could be developed and successfully implemented in particular urban settings. How to conceptualise the opportunities which allow local actors to find and to pursue their own development strategy in a world dominated by a small number of hegemonic neo-liberal ideas? Why do local actors still have choices?

Métropoles is an open access journal of urban studies which is indexed by the French agency for the evaluation of research in Geography and Town Planning, Sociology and Political Science. http://metropoles.revues.org

Abstracts should be sent by the 31st of March 2013. They can be either written in French or English. They should be directly sent to the managing editor of Métropoles, Deborah Galimberti (deborah.galimberti[at]gmail.com). A copy should also be sent to the two coordinators of this special issue: Vincent Béal (vbeal[at]unistra.fr) and Max Rousseau (max.rousseau[at]cirad.fr).

Authors will be notified of the acceptance of their abstract by the 15th of April 2013, at the latest.

The definitive manuscripts should be submitted to the journal by the 16th of September 2013. They can be either written in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese or German. The definitive version of the articles accepted for publication should however be written in English or French. The charge of the translation is the author’s responsibility.

The articles should comprise between 8.000 and 10.000 words (including references).
Presentation standards and information for the authors can be found on the website of the journal: http://metropoles.revues.org

2013. január 23., szerda

Elizabeth Dunn a CEU-n: a humanitárius adományozás kaotikusságának ellentmondásai

Elizabeth Dunn, a "Privatizing Poland" című könyv szerzője (jó posztszocialista téma), most az újabb kutatásáról fog beszélni a CEU-n.

The Department of Gender Studies 2012-2013 Public Lecture Series,
the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology
and the Institute for Advanced Study


Elizabeth Dunn

"The Chaos of Humanitarian Aid: Adhocracy in the Republic of Georgia"

11 a.m., Tuesday 29 January 2013

Popper Room

Humanitarian aid is often presented as a technical project, one that uses the tools and techniques of industrial management to efficiently deliver life-saving help in the midst of crisis. For critics of humanitarianism, bureaucratization allows humanitarians to reduce beneficiaries to mere victims and to conduct political action under the guise of an apolitical regime of care. But does humanitarianism actually function as effectively as either its critics or its proponents claim? In this paper, I argue that rather than functioning as a bureaucracy, humanitarianism is actually an adhocracy: a regime of governance that uses epistemologies such as guessing, rules of thumb, improvisation and satisficing. Because of its ad hoc nature, humanitarianism fails to create either beneficial or nefarious order, and instead creates chaos that prevents displaced people from rebuilding their lives.


Elizabeth Cullen Dunn is Associate Professor of Geography and International Affairs at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her first book, Privatizing Poland (Cornell 2004) won both the Ed. A. Hewett and Orbis Book Prizes. Trained as an anthropologist, she was the first non-economist to win the Hewett Prize for the study of socialist or post-socialist economies. Her current work focuses on the aftermath of the 2008 Russo-Georgian War, humanitarianism, and internally displaced people. Her work has been published in American Ethnologist, Humanity, and the Iowa Review, among other venues.

Rock Music and the Far Right in Europe

Feischmidt Margit és Pulay Gergő előadása 2013. február 1.-én

Rock Music and the Far Right in Europe

A Semi-formal workshop organized by CEU IAS at the Raoul Wallenberg Guesthouse

(1015 Budapest, Toldy Ferenc u. 8-10, Fellows Club)
1 February, 2013

16-18.00 Short presentations followed by a discussion

Anton Shekhovtsov: European Far-Right Music and Its Enemies

Marko Stojanavska Rupcic: "Thompson - the voice of the Croatian nation”

Margit Feischmidt - Gergő Pulay: Popular nationalism: rock music and radical right in Hungary

18.00-21.00 Two films followed by a discussion and some wine

Nazi Hate Rock. 2006. STV
A shocking, first-time, whistle-blowing investigation into the disturbing rise of the racist and anti-semitic music industry across North America and Europe. From the US to the UK and through Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, award-winning investigative journalist Donald Macintyre explores the world of the neo-Nazis who write and perform the music, the record labels and their fans, and reveals how young people are being drawn to the gospel of "White Power".

Rocking the Nation, a documentary film by Bori Kriza
A concert tour with the rock band “Romantic Violence” and its fans to get insight into the Hungarian radical right-wing youth subculture. Folk musicians and skinheads, football supporters and college students speak of their radical nationalistic views. The slogans are rocking: freedom, anti-Communism, Trianon, the Jews, 100% Hungarian, to arms! But what happens when words turn to action? To date, the film has been screened at a number of international film festivals and other public events (in Budapest, Berlin, Moscow, Washington, Prague, Warsaw, Vienna, Bratislava, Kosice, Belgrade, Cluj).

2013. január 22., kedd

Új posztkolonialista folyóirat

Létrejött egy vadonatúj, ingyenesen elérhető posztkolonialista folyóirat, a Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society. Elég menő cikkek vannak benne, szóval ígéretesnek tűnik. Elérhető itt.

Volume 1, Issue 1

2013. január 18., péntek

„Világunk határai” konferencia az Eötvös József Collegiumban

Eötvös Collegium, 2013. február 22–24.
Jelentkezési határidő: 2012. december 21.

Programfüzet január 28-tól lesz elérhető!
(Facebook esemény itt.)

Részletes program:


13:00 HORVÁTH LÁSZLÓ megnyitója
13:10 TATÁR GYÖRGY: Fordítás Bábelben (13:50 – vita)
14:10 szünet

14:20 Nyelvünkben hordozott kultúra és társadalmi kultúra (szekcióvezető: ANGYALOSI GERGELY)
14:20 PEREMICZKY SZILVIA: Perdimos también Espanya – Al-Andalusztól Szalonikiig: a spanyol zsidó kultúra transzformációi (plenáris előadás; 15:00 – vita)
15:20 szünet
15:30 BRANCZEIZ ANNA: Világunk határain innen, országunk határain túl – Radnóti recepciója angol nyelvterületen (15:50 – vita)
16:00 MAJOR ÁGNES: Géza Csáth: Muttermord (16:20 – vita)
16:30 BARNA LÁSZLÓ: Az interkulturális distancia megőrzése a fordításban: „Szabó Lőrinc Werthere” (16:50 – vita)
17:00 szünet
17:10 SZARVAS MELINDA: Nyelven innen, kultúrán túl (17:30 – vita)
17:40 PATÓCS LÁSZLÓ: A peremlét kultúrája – A kultúra mint a kívülállás diskurzusa Végel László prózájában (18:00 – vita)
18:10 VÁSÁRHELYI ÁGNES: „Undergroundban megtartani a hardcore-t, az maga a hardcore.” – Underground és mainstream a magyar hardcore punkban (18:30 – vita)
18:40 KIS KATALIN: Anti-Homophobia and Americanisation on the Contemporary Hungarian Telecinematic Screen as Exemplified by Attila Till’s Panic (2008) (19:00 – vita)
19:10 MAKAI PÉTER KRISTÓF: Travelling Without a Compass: Autism in Interaction in The Language of Others (19:30 – vita)
19:40 állófogadás


10:00 Nyelv és igazság (szekcióvezető: BÁRÁNY TIBOR)
10:00 LAKI JÁNOS: A tudományos tudás makroszociológiai kontextusa (plenáris előadás; 10:40 – vita)
11:00 szünet
11:10 KAPELNER ZSOLT: Lefordíthatatlan nyelvek, megérthetetlen kultúrák (11:30 – vita)
11:40 RONKAY MARGIT: Állítások mint hallgatólagos tudás – Nyelv, igazság és valóság kapcsolata Polányi Mihály filozófiájában (12:00 – vita)
12:10 PÉTER MÓNIKA: A megértés nyelvisége – A filozófiai hermeneutika nyelvszemlélete (12:30 – vita)
12:40 SÓS CSABA: A dekonstrukció peremvidékein – A metafizikai érintettségre vonatkozó kérdés Derrida és de Man esetében (13:00 – vita)

13:10 ebédszünet

14:10 Nyelv és kultúra (szekcióvezető: TÁTRAI SZILÁRD)
14:10 NÁDASDY ÁDÁM: Miért vonakodik a nyelvész? (plenáris előadás; 14:50 – vita)
15:10 szünet
15:20 CSUDAY CSABA: Fantasztikus irodalom: kalandok a megismerés határmezsgyéin (plenáris előadás; 16:00 – vita)
16:20 SÁGI ATTILA: Nyugati eredetű jövevényszavak a japán nyelvben (16:40 – vita)
16:50 SZANYI ILDIKÓ: A „centrum” és a „periféria” – azaz a német nyelv és a déli svájci nyelvjárások – viszonya a globalizáció korában (17:10 – vita)
17:20 szünet
17:30 NAGY KATALIN: A globalizálódó elmeteória (17:50 – vita)
18:00 NÉMETH DÁNIEL: Szerepnyelvek (18:20 – vita)
18:30 LAMÁR ERZSÉBER: Szavak és határok – az idegenség tapasztalata Derridánál (18:50 – vita)
19:10 állófogadás


10:00 Globális és lokális politika (szekcióvezető: MIKLÓSI ZOTLÁN)
10:00 DR. SALÁT GERGELY: Kína – civilizáció, nemzetállam, birodalom? (plenáris előadás; 10:40 – vita)
11:00 szünet
11:10 BALLA PÉTER: Polonizációs törekvések a Rzeczpospolitában (11:30 – vita)
11:40 BISZTRAI MÁRTON: Balról jobbra: a kufijja rögös útja (12:00 – vita)
12:10 KISS MÁTÉ: (12:30 – vita)
12:40 SÁRVÁRI BALÁZS: (13:00 – vita)

13:10 ebédszünet

14:10 Kultúra és történelem (szekcióvezető: ERDÉLYI ÁGNES)
14:10 GYÁNI GÁBOR: A történetírás mint kultúratudomány (plenáris előadás; 14:50 – vita)
15:10 szünet
15:20 SMRZ ÁDÁM: A prisca theologia és az egyetemes történelem eszméje (15:40 – vita)
15:50 TÁNCZOS PÉTER: A történeti tipológia lehetősége a koraromantikában (16:10 – vita)
16:20 HORNYÁK PÉTER ISTVÁN: Generáció a fogalomtörténet mérlegén (16:40 – vita)
16:50 szünet
17:00 SÁR ESZTER: Kapitalizmus mint evilági aszkézis – Max Weber a kultúra és a vallás történelemformáló szerepéről (17:20 – vita)
17:30 KOVÁCS CS. TAMÁS: Mai magyar antiszemitizmus: történeti vagy kulturális kód? (Töprengések egy fiatalok körében 2011-ben végzett kérdőíves mikrofelmérés kapcsán.) (17:50 – vita)
18:00 VINCZE GABRIELLA: „Ez már túlmutat a pajtán…” – a történelem aktualizálhatóságának és felhasználhatóságának kérdése a Jedwabne-vita kapcsán (18:200 – vita)
18:30 szünet

18:40 VÁRNAI ANDRÁS: (19:20 – vita)
19:40 állófogadás


Egyetemes lett-e a nyugati kultúra jelentősége azáltal, hogy sajátos, kapitalista munkaszervezési formája teret hódított a második és a harmadik világban is? Max Weber a Protestáns etikához írott előszóban még így fogalmazott: „a kultúra valamiféle egyetemes története” szempontjából a Nyugat „egyetemes jelentőségű és érvényű fejlődés irányába hatott” miután racionális munkaszervezésével létrehozta a bürokráciát és a kapitalizmust. Megállja-e azonban a helyét Weber gondolata ma is? Vannak-e még napjainkban egyetemes jelentőségű és érvényességű elképzelések, vagy csupán egymással versengő narratívák léteznek?

A kultúra eredete és tárgya is az ember, vagyis ha van fogalom, amely általános érvényűségre tarthat számot, akkor ez az. Mégis ha megpróbáljuk közelebbről meghatározni, jelentései hidrafejek módjára szaporodni kezdenek. Napjainkat globalizáció és lokalizáció egyaránt jellemzi: a kommunikációs eszközök egyfelől lehetőséget teremtenek arra, hogy a Föld különböző részein élő emberek diskurzust folytassanak, másfelől az egyre táguló és gyorsuló világ kihívásaira sok helyen a mikroközösségek tudatos izolálódása, és a lokális kultúra eredetéhez való visszatérés kísérlete a válasz. A multikulturalizmus és az identitáspolitikák összecsapása és válsága nyomán egyre aktuálisabbak a kultúra mibenlétére vonatkozó kérdések.

Wittgenstein szerint egy nyelvet megtanulni annyi, mint elsajátítani egy életformát. Úgy tűnik, hogy az életformák történelmi meghatározottsága ma is döntő szerepet játszik az egyes kultúrákban, az elmúlt ötven év fokozódó gazdasági egymásrautaltsága mégis egyre inkább fellazítja az önálló kultúrák határait. Világpolgárok lettünk-e ezáltal vagy megmaradtunk nyelvünkben hordozott kultúránk letéteményeseinek?

BA-, MA-, illetve PhD-képzésben résztvevő hallgatók jelentkezését várjuk az alábbi szekciók valamelyikében:

• Nyelv és kultúra (szekcióvezető: Tátrai Szilárd, plenáris előadó: Nádasdy Ádám)
Hogyan hatnak egymásra nyelvek és kultúrák a globalizálódó világban? Mennyiben új jelenség a globalizáció? Lezajlott-e már hasonló folyamat a történelemben? Milyen nyelvelméleti kérdéseket vet fel ez a jelenség? Hogyan közelíthető meg mindez az antropológia és a kultúratudomány kontextusában? Milyen a viszony „centrum és periféria” között? Párbeszéd vagy nyelvi/kulturális imperializmus jellemzi inkább korunkat?

• Globális és lokális politika (szekcióvezető: Miklósi Zoltán, plenáris előadó: Salát Gergely)
Milyen szerepe volt nyelvnek és kultúrának a nemzeti és nemzetközi politikában egykor és most? Mi a különbség globális, nagyhatalmi és birodalmi politika között? Milyen nyelvi és kulturális hatások érvényesülnek a globális politikában (Occupy mozgalom, Arab tavasz, Kony stb.)? Értelmezhető-e a nemzeti kultúra a nemzetállamok kora után? Mi az összefüggés nyelvi, kulturális és politikai identitás között?

• Nyelv és igazság (szekcióvezető: Bárány Tibor, plenáris előadó: Laki János)
Mi a különböző tudományok viszonya a nyelvhez? Létezhet-e egységes tudományos nyelv? Mennyiben nemzetközi a tudomány ma és mennyiben volt az korábban? Igazi alternatívái-e a nyugati természettudományoknak az „alternatív tudományok”? Mi a viszonya a tudomány nyelvének a kultúra nyelvéhez? Vannak-e „lefordíthatatlan” filozófusok és „lefordíthatatlan” filozófiák? Létezhet-e nyelv- és kultúrafüggetlen igazság?

• Kultúra és történelem (szekcióvezető: Erdélyi Ágnes, plenáris előadó: Gyáni Gábor)
Egyetemes-e a történelem, vagy csak helyi történetek léteznek? Hogyan viszonyul a történeti emlékezet a nyelvek és kultúrák sokféleségéhez? Történetileg meghatározott kultúrákról vagy kulturálisan meghatározott történetekről beszélhetünk? Mennyiben határozza meg kultúránk a történelemről alkotott elképzelésünket, és mennyiben a történelem a kultúránkat? Létezhet-e a kultúrától független történelmi emlékezet? 

• Nyelvünkben hordozott kultúra és társadalmi kultúra (szekcióvezető: Angyalosi Gergely, plenáris előadó: Peremiczky Szilvia)
Hogyan értelmezzük a kulturális terek jelentőségét: lehet-e hegemón és alárendelt kultúráról beszélni? Mennyiben meghatározók a társadalmi nemek, milyen szerepet játszik a nyelv az interszekcionalitásban? Milyen jelentőséggel bír egy műalkotás befogadása szempontjából kulturális kontextusa? Léteznek-e néma, a mainstream számára láthatatlan kultúrák? Mennyiben határozza meg a nyelv és a kultúra a(z akár irodalmi, akár művészeti, akár történelmi) kánonképzés gyakorlatát? Képes-e párbeszédre az eltérő nyelvű és kultúrájú, ugyanakkor egységesülő piacú művészet? Egységes szférát alkotnak-e az emberi szellem termékei?

A nyitóelőadást Tatár György, a záróelőadást Várnai András tartja.

Az előadások nyelve magyar vagy angol, hossza 20 perc, amelyet 10 perc vita követ. Az 1000-1500 leütés terjedelmű absztraktokat a szekció megjelölésével az vilagunkhatarai@gmail.com címre várjuk. Kérdéseitekre ugyanezen a címen szívesen válaszolunk. A jelentkezések elbírálásáról legkésőbb 2013. január 18-ig értesítjük a jelentkezőket. Szállást a Collegium épületében 3.000 Ft/éj áron biztosítunk.

Az előadások írott változatából válogatás jelenik meg a konferenciakötetben.

2013. január 16., szerda

Egy mocsárvilág globális olvasata

Szerintem egy baromi jó interjút csinált Varga Dénes egy már 4 Oscar-díjra jelölt film, A messzi dél vadjai rendezőjével, Benh Zeitlinnel az Origo filmklubnak. (Dénes egyébként nagy szakértője Terrence Malick-nak, akinek a munkássága hatással volt a rendezőre is.) Ez a film szerintem tökéletes példája annak, hogy a földrajz milyen szempontból lehet fontos a filmek mint kulturális reprezentációnak az elemzése szempontjából. A riporter éppen ennek fényében igyekszik kibontani a film tartalmát a rendezőnek feltett földrajzos érdeklődésű kérdéseivel. A film lényegében egy Mississippi-deltavidék környéki (New Orleans, Dél-Louisiana kreol vagy cajun vidékei), elképzelt mocsárvilág lakóit mutatja be. A rendező nagy kritikusa a globalizációnak, filmje részben az uniformizáció kritikáját fejezi ki a helyi, pre-modern, természetközeli, autonóm közösségek értékteremtő varázsával. Vajon a film romantikus, naiv ábrándozás, vagy érvényes kritika? Hű-e a reprezentáció, vagy milyen értéktartalmakat, esetleg ellentmondásokat fejez ki a bemutatott tájon és az ott élő (fiktív) embereken keresztül? Mennyiben bontja ki a globalizáció "hátoldalának", rejtett helyeinek világait? Hogyan mobilizálja a mocsárvilág "eldugott" közösségeinek szegény népességét a "nyugati" fejlett világ képzeleteiben?

Állás nélkül marad a fiatal korosztály?

Nézzétek meg ezt a hírt, amely arról szól, hogy elsősorban a válság hatásaként nagyon magas a fiatal munkanélküliek aránya a munkanélküliségi rátához viszonyítva (Magyarország toplistás!), illetve ezt a fotósorozatot arról a már globális (!) témáról, hogy a fiatal diplomások (és egyébként az aktív egyetemisták is) vagy nem kapnak munkát, vagy jellemzően a képzettséget nem igénylő munkákkal szolgáló szolgáltatási szektorban kénytelenek elhelyezkedni (pl. takarító, eladó, gyorséttermi munka, felszolgálás).

Facebook forrás (lehet megosztani)

A fotósorozat szerintem nem annyira hatásvadász (lehet, hogy az? szerintetek elhibázott?), pontosabban a fotóknak mindig is a hatás volt a céljuk: egy létező problémát úgy mutassanak be, hogy érzelmeket váltsanak ki belőlünk, elgondolkodtassanak. Rámutat, hogy nemcsak struktúrákról, hanem egyéni sorsokról is van szó, bemutatja ezeket a munkakörülményeket is stb. (mint kontraszt). Ugyanakkor egy komoly probléma lehet az interpretáció szempontjából, hogy földrajzilag egészen más környezeteket szerepeltet, ahol merőben más képzési és munkaerőpiaci viszonyok uralkodnak.

Talán a legfontosabb dolog ezzel az általános problémával kapcsolatban, hogy orrba-szájba megy itthon a "menjetek ki külföldre dolgozni" szöveg a fiatalokra irányulóan (vajon jobb munkát kapnak külföldön? mivel jár a kiutazás?), amit megspékel a jelenlegi - szerintem mélységesen elhibázott - "fiatalság politika", ami alatt elsősorban a legutóbbi idők felsőoktatásra vonatkozó rendelkezéseit értem. (Hozzáteszem, én alapvetően a külföldi tapasztalat mellett vagyok.) Persze a képek egyértelműen mutatják bizonyos "slágerszakok" túltelített piacának eredményeit is. Hogyan lehet ezt a problémát kezelni? Nem áll ellentétben a magyar szakpolitika az EU politikájával? Hogyan fog a magyar kormány élhető munkahelyeket teremteni a diplomásainak (a diplomások számának autoriter csökkentését kivéve)? Mit eredményez ez a munkaerő-vándorlás az EU számára (pl. a válságban keményebben érintett országok fiatal munkaerejének kiszipolyozása, hosszútávon a korstruktúra megváltoztatása)?

Nem azt mondom, hogy a piac egyáltalán ne határozza meg a felsőoktatást (sőt), de nem is a piaci körülmények vezetnek majd önmagukban a jobb felsőoktatáshoz (ahogyan ezt mostanában sokan állítják), azzal, hogy rendezik a kereslet/kínálat görbét. Az a szöveg, hogy a strukturális munkanélküliséggel szemben az embereknek kell majd jobb döntéseket hozniuk (ők vállalják a felelősséget), azért sem jó, mert az emberek döntéseit különböző felsőbb hatalmak, piaci szereplők, média, nyilvánosság, egyetemek és kollégiumok érdekérvényesítő képessége stb. határozza meg. Egy kicsit többről van itt szó, mint a munkahely "automatikus" megszerzésének ideája vagy problémája.

Ám itt szerintem nemcsak a fiatal korú, pályakezdő munkanélküliségről van szó, hanem a diplomások alacsony fizus munkavállalásáról és az egyetem alatti munkavégzés körülményeiről is. Lehet a slágerszakozást meg az egyéni döntéseket, élettervezést okolni, ám ez alapjában véve felelősségeleterelés, ráadásul könnyen alátámasztja azt a neoliberalista ideológiát, hogy rajtad, mint egyéni döntéshozón múlik minden (így a rendszer hibái is), valamint egy olyan átszervezés igényét sugallja, ami a "hatékonyabb", "kifizetődőbb" képzettségek, irányultságok felé tereli a felsőoktatást és az embereket (lásd: Mo.), ami pedig könnyen a piacnak alárendelt oktatáshoz vezet (=> pl. csináljanak cégek egyetemeket, így garantált az elhelyezkedés és a hatékony tudásmenedzsment!).

Nekem személy szerint az a véleményem, hogy míg az egyetem alatti (meg utáni) ilyen - a képeken is bemutatott, pl. gyorséttermi kiszolgáló - munka a (diák)hitel törlesztésén túl az alapvető egzisztenciád megteremtését segítheti (meg a munka az életre nevel stb.), mégis rengeteg veszéllyel jár, és elkerülendő lenne. Azzal, hogy hitelezővé teszünk egy széles réteget, elsősorban úgy növeljük a foglalkoztatást, hogy ennek a rétegnek az érdekérvényesítő képessége rendkívül alacsony (pl. szakszervezetek), részmunkaidőben és állati rugalmas időbeosztásban dolgoznak (könnyen kiválthatók), a képzettséget nem igénylő munka további képzettséget sem teremt, valamint ezek a fiatalok egyáltalán nem ezt a munkát tekintik a jövőjüknek (karrier). Mindezekért viszont a munkáltató alacsonyan tarthatja a béreiket és a munkakörülményeik színvonalát is. Tehát az oktatási rendszer a gazdaságnak ebben az esetben úgy teremt foglalkoztatást, hogy a terhek átruházásával létrehoz egy olyan munkán alapuló önellátást, amely valójában az emberek kizsákmányolásához is vezethet: már nem vigyáz rád senki, dolgozz és kussolj! (workfarism)

2013. január 14., hétfő

RGS-IBG Conference (2013): The Making of the English Working Class at Fifty

The Making of the English Working Class at Fifty: Space, Agency and History From Below

Convenors: David Featherstone, Neil Gray and Paul Griffin, School of Geographical and Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow.

Sponsored by the Historical Geography Research Group and the Political Geography Research Group.

50 years on from its original publication E.P. Thompson’s Making of the English Working Class continues to inspire and to provoke critical debate and reflection. A foundational text of what has come to be known as ‘history from below’, the book has impacted on contexts far beyond the West-Riding of Yorkshire or the back rooms of London pubs that were the key sites of the book. It has been a pivotal text, even if primarily through critical dialogue, within intellectual traditions as diverse as History Workshop in South Africa and Subaltern Studies.

The Making has, of course, been subject to numerous critiques and engagements notably by feminist and post-colonial critics (Clark, 1995, Hall, 1992). The cultural nationalism that informed Thompson’s work have been robustly contested by Paul Gilroy (1987, 1993). Forms of Thompsonian inspired social history have been productively taken in more transnational dimensions by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker. In geography its reception was subject to significant debate, especially in relation to Derek Gregory’s critique of Thompson’s account of the relations between class and space. Engagement with Thompson’s work, however, has been oddly absent from recent debates on workers’ agency in labour geography. His commitment to asserting and recovering diverse forms of agency in shaping class formation, however, resonates with many critical geographical projects.

This session seeks to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Making. It seeks to use this as an opportunity for critical reflections on Thompson’s text and to consider the relations between geographical work and ‘history from below’. The session invites both critical commentaries and empirically informed papers. These might consider:

•  The imaginations of space and place in the Making of English Working Class
•  The transnational impact of the Making of the English Working Class
•  The contested geographies of the new left
•  Critical engagements with Thompson’s use of the terms experience and agency.
•  The political contexts that shaped The Making of the English Working Class
•  The relations between Thompson, Subaltern Histories and attempts to think history from below spatially.

Abstracts of up to 250 words should be sent to Dave Featherstone (David.Featherstone[at]glasgow[dot]ac[dot]uk) by February 8th.

ACME: The Politics of Climate Change

ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies
Volume 12, issue 1, 2013
Table of Contents
Special Theme Issue
The Politics of Climate Change

Guest edited by Kelvin Mason

The Non-political Politics of Climate Change, pp 1-8
Erik Swingedouw

COP15 and Beyond: Politics, Protest and Climate Justice, pp 9-22
Kelvin Mason and Kye Askins

Academics and Social Movements: Knowing Our Place, Making Our Space, pp 23-43
Kelvin Mason

The Contested Politics of Climate Change and the Crisis of Neoliberalism, pp 44-64
David Featherstone

Leave the Sand in the Land, Let the Stone Alone: Pits, Quarries and Climate Change, pp 65-87
L. Anders Sandberg and Lisa Wallace

Population Policy: A Valid Answer to Climate Change? Old Arguments Aired Again Before COP15, pp 88-101
Bertil Egerö

Emerging from the Shadow of Climate Change Denial, pp 102-130
Justin Kenrick

Who Reaps what is Sown?  A Feminist Inquiry into Climate Change Adaptation in Two Mexican Ejidos
, pp 131-154
Beth Bee

Ten theses on why we need a “Social Science Panel on Climate Change”, pp155-176
Stellan Vinthagen
*     *     *

Book Review:
Climate Change – Who’s Carrying the Burden: The chilly climates of the global environmental dilemma
, pp 177-179
Reviewed by Mark Whitehead
*     *     *

Academic Seminar Blockade
Filmed and edited by Chris High, p. 180

2013. január 13., vasárnap

Second World Urbanity: Between Capitalist and Communist Utopias

Call for Papers
June 21-23, 2013
Location: The Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe, Leipzig, Germany

In 1967 the architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable published a long piece in the New York Times on Soviet advances in urban planning and construction. Surprisingly for the Cold War era, the author openly praised the Soviets for creating a country-wide system of mass production of standardised prefabricated cheap housing, ‘an architectural sputnik’ in her own words. She claimed with great enthusiasm, ‘In size, scope and boldness, in spite of crudities, failure and sometimes ludicrous imperfections it is a singularly important undertaking of the 20th century.’ Moreover, she noted, ‘the latest product is acceptable as architecture.’ Describing new residential neighborhoods mushrooming all across the Soviet Union, she wrote: ‘There is no scale, no variety, no surprise. It is monotony with light, air, sun, and greenery in season, and on sum, that effect is no worse and sometimes a good deal better than a lot of construction on the outskirts of large American cities.’ Admitting all the flaws of current Soviet construction she urged her readers to pay closer attention to this ‘special brand of modern architecture [that] is reshaping the Soviet World.’

Second World Urbanity: Between Capitalist and Communist Utopias seeks to investigate the history of the radical reshaping of the Soviet World (in our words – the Second World), that Ada Louise Huxtable reported on in the late 1960s. This project aims to bring together scholarly contributions on the various endeavors in the Second World to conceive, build, and inhabit a socialist cityscape that was an alternative to the segregated spaces of capitalist cities and the atomized world of suburbia. Imagining and designing urban space were undeniably powerful instruments of forging socialist modernity. Second World Urbanity pays close attention to the tensions between global challenges and locally driven agendas that made architects, planners, and ordinary dwellers alter socialist modernity according to more particular interests. What were the visions and meanings that architects and urban planners sought to communicate through their work? What pre-existing styles did they draw on, reject, and appropriate, and was there a Second World postmodernism? To what degree was the socialist cityscape a product of negotiation between its dwellers and its designers? Where did other local players–such as major industries and local party bosses–fit in such negotiations over the design and construction of the socialist city?

As a venue for opening a conversation about the new approaches to urbanity and planning, this project goes beyond the geographic boundaries of the Eastern Bloc and seeks transnational, comparative, and global approaches to the study of the socialist city. We propose to think of socialist urban planning from Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union to China and Cuba as a distinct and multifaceted division of global urban planning trends. Just as the geographic scope is broad so, too, is our chronological reach, which will span the early post-World War II period through the collapse of state socialism and beyond to the present day. Was there a common denominator to the variety of projects and planning efforts implemented from Cuba to China, from the Urals to Belgrade? Was it socialist in form and national in content as the common formula of Socialist Realism suggested? Or was it modern in form and undefined in content, to paraphrase the formula Kevin Plath and Benjamin Nathans recently coined for describing the nature of late-Soviet culture? In exploring such questions, what do we – urban historians and historians of architecture – have new to say on the history of the Second World? What are the new research questions that our subfield has generated in recent years?

The present stage in our project is a conference that will be hosted at the The Center for the History and Culture of East Central Europe, in Leipzig, Germany, June 21-23, 2013. Paper proposals are solicited for this conference and an edited volume of selected papers on a wide range of topics from (but not limited to) the history of professional networks and institutional organization, monumental projects, mass housing schemes, transfers of technologies and styles, the organization of public and private spaces, the political engagement of urban planning professionals, the treatment of gender, ethnic, and class differences in the socialist cityscape, the role of the state, the ideological premises of urban schemes and visionary projects, everyday life, urban residents’ (mis)uses of planned urban spaces. Papers from all disciplines in the social sciences and humanities will be considered.
Critical information:

Please send paper proposals (a 300-500 word abstract and a 1-page cv) to swurbanity[at]gmail[dot]com by February 1, 2013. Paper proposals will be reviewed by the project’s organizers and program committee. We will announce the papers that have been accepted on March 1, 2013.

If your paper is accepted for the conference, the deadline for submitting your paper will be May 20, 2013. Papers should be no longer than 5,000 words including footnotes or endnotes. Papers will be distributed to conference participants ahead of the conference via our project’s blog.

The project is presently soliciting funds to cover some of the transportation and/or housing costs of participants. We will know whether such funds are available only in Spring 2013. Therefore, interested participants should plan for covering costs through their home institutions. The conference will not have a conference fee.

Program committee: Andres Kurg, Brigitte Le Normand, Daria Bocharnikova, Kimberly Elman Zarecor, Marie Alice L’Heureux, Steven Harris, Vladimir Kulic

2013. január 12., szombat

Django Unchained és az amerikai "holokauszt"

Azok, akik sasolják a halivudi filmeket, láthatták talán, hogy érdekes vita bontakozott ki Tarantino legújabb filmje, a Django Unchained körül, ami kb. egy hét múlva fog kijönni a mozikban. A témázás akörül zajlik, hogy a film főszereplője (Django) egy afro-amerikai rabszolga, aki felszabadulása után fejvadász lesz (bosszúállóan "fehér" embereket gyilkol), az egész sztori pedig az ültetvények rabszolgaviszonyainak (nyilván nem doku, hanem esztétizált) bemutatására épül. Persze mindez Tarantino-féle gyilokgép stílusban. A vita többek között nemcsak a rendező bemutatásának helyessége körül van, hanem leginkább akörül, hogy az amerikai filmipar egészen a kezdetektől gyakorlatilag - néhány jelentéktelenebb kivételtől eltekintve - meghátrált a rabszolga "holokauszt" (ahogyan Tarantino nevezi) feldolgozása elől. Míg az "indián múlt" tárgyalása a westernekből következően a későbbiekben feldolgozásra került, addig az afro-amerikaiak elnyomása nem (mellesleg, akit a "western" és a földrajz kapcsolata érdekel, csápoljon rá Dénes menő tumblijára). Tarantino azt mondja, egy "fekete" hőst akart csinálni, akivel az érintett múltban osztozó közönség azonosulni tud. Vagy mennyiben csak afféle marketingfogás, meglovagolás ez? Vajon mennyiben szolgálja a film ezt az anti-narratívát?

2013. január 11., péntek

Új ACME szám anarchista és marxista földrajzokról

ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical GeographiesVolume 11, issue 3, 2012
Table of Contents
Special Theme Issue
Anarchist and Autonomous Marxist Geographies

Guest edited by Nathan Clough and Renata Blumberg

Toward Anarchist and Autonomist Marxist Geographies

Nathan Clough and Renata Blumberg, pp 335-351

Are “Other Spaces” Necessary? Associative Power at the Dumpster

Nicholas Jon Crane, pp 352-372

Anarchism, Geography, and Queer Space-making: Building Bridges Over Chasms We Create

Farhang Rouhani, pp 373-392

Organizing for Survival: From the Civil Rights Movement to   Black Anarchism through the Life of Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin

Nik Heynen and Jason Rhodes, pp 393-412

At the Intersection of Anarchists and Autonomists: Autogestioni and Centri Sociali

Pierpaolo Mudu, pp 413-438

Counter (Mapping) Actions: Mapping as Militant Research

Counter Cartographies Collective, Craig Dalton, and Liz Mason-Deese, pp 439-466

Autonomist Marxist Theory and Practice in the Current Crisis

Brian Marks, pp 467-491

Bridging Common Grounds: Metaphor, Multitude, and Chicana Third Space Feminism

Cathryn Jesefina Merla-Watson, pp 492-511

Gramsci Is Not Dead: For a ‘Both/And’ Approach to Radical Geography

Mark Purcell, pp. 512-524

Re-inscribing the Hegemony of Hegemony: A Response to Mark Purcell

Richard JF Day, pp 525-529

Frankenstein is Dead

Mark Purcell, pp. 530-532
*     *     *

Rose Street and Revolution: A Tribute to Neil Smith (1954-2012)

Tom Slater, pp 533-546

Facebook oldal előnyei

Általános közlemény! Minden blogolvasót arra buzdítanánk, hogy kövesse a Facebook oldalunkat is, mert ott jóval több információt osztunk meg, mint itt a blogon. Ez elsősorban azért van, mert ott folyékonyabb az információáramlás, könnyebb ezeket megosztani és menedzselni. A blog sokkal inkább egy statikus felület, egyfajta összetett "gyűjtemény" vagy "paletta" (pl. frissítődő bloglista, linkek, saját oldalfelület). Elviekben a blogon elsősorban nagyobb horderejű vagy hosszabb tartalmú írásoknak, kiírásoknak és a "legfontosabb" anyagoknak kellene megjelenniük (persze a színes tartalmak ettől még kellenek!), amelyek a neten is lekereshetők (+címkézés). Persze el lehet gondolkodni azon, hogy érdemes-e mondjuk 80 bejegyzést csinálni egy hónapban a blog felületén, mi lenne a kiegyensúlyozott? A blogforma hátránya (legalábbis itt) továbbá, hogy a kommentelés nehézkes, és ha kommentel is valaki, azt nehéz kiszúrni és lekövetni, szemben a Facebook oldallal. Továbbá, nektek is könnyebb megosztani az egyes bejegyzéseket Facebook-on keresztül, ahol egyébként mindig megosztjuk a blogbejegyzéseket is.

Ezen túlmenően, minden olvasót arra is buzdítunk, hogy bátran osszon meg maga is a Fórum számára releváns tartalmakat a blogon szerzőként (jelentkezzetek nyugodtan, ha szeretnétek részt venni, nem jár semmiféle megkötéssel vagy kötelező rendszerességgel!), vagy a Facebook oldalon, ahol bárki megoszthat információkat, készíthet bejegyzéseket!

Intelligence without ambition

2013. január 8., kedd

Ingyenesen elérhető kurzusok: openculture.com

Az openculture.com egyébként is menő oldal, de most 650 kurzus anyaga ingyenesen elérhető rajta a legnevesebb nemzetközi egyetemekről. Nézzétek meg!

2013. január 7., hétfő

Mapping Neoliberalism and Its Countermovements in the Former Second World (July 23-27, 2012, Budapest)


This conference had some pre-history. In July 2011, under the auspices of Budapest’s Central European University (CEU), a summer school took place. Its unwieldy title (“(Neo)liberalization of Socialism and the Crises of Capital”), stellar organizers (Mary Taylor, Csilla Kalocsai, and Judit Bodnar) and faculty (Johanna Bockman, David Harvey, and Ivan Szelenyi) attracted a group of young scholars interested in transcending the worn-out paradigms through which postsocialist societies are still interpreted in mass media, policy analysis, and academic research: communism v. democracy, transition to democracy, and the most idiotic of them all—“return to Europe.”  Once the participants arrived in Budapest, many of them turned out to be no mere detached, Weberian scholars but social movement activists in their own national contexts, whose critique of neoliberalism drew on their activist practice.

Inspired by the experience of mutual recognition, by the stakes of our conversation, and the rare opportunity to talk to other critically-minded scholars from a region whose cultural and intellectual interconnections have been largely severed, we decided to meet the following year, in late July 2012, once again in Budapest. The reunion was to be at the same time a narrower and more ambitious affair than last year’s. Narrower, because this time we lacked the institutional affiliations, the major funding, and the intellectual resources that made the last year’s summer school possible. More ambitious, because the conversation had already begun, the commonalities/ camaraderies had been established, and new allies from other postsocialist countries identified and invited. Overall, approximately 40 participants from 10 East European countries participated in the event. The dearth of funding was more than made up by the ingenuity and energy of the main organizers—Agnes Gagyi and Csaba Jelinek. And if the 2011 summer school was more exclusively focused on neoliberalism and the conversations about the social movements opposing it took place outside of the formal curriculum, the program of the 2012 gathering maintained a focus on both. Even though without official CEU participation, this time we also benefited from the sheer number of young East European scholars concentrated at that university, who would frequently drop in on our panels. With a few exceptions, most of the participants were PhD students or junior faculty. Of the disciplines represented, anthropology, sociology, and history accounted for probably 2/3 of the participants, but there were historians of literature, specialists in education and urban planning. That English was our lingua franca meant that many of us were either based in or had spent significant time at English-language universities.

The late-/post-socialist intellectuals & neoliberalism

Joining us via skype, Mary Taylor (City University of New York) opened the conference by putting conference participants on the same page by giving with a magesterial account of the 2011 summer school she helped organized. The panels then proceeded chronologically. Organized by Dan Cirjan and Piotr Wcislik, the first of them continued the work of last year’s summer school by identifying the origins of today’s neoliberal order in the late-socialist period and thus of defetishizing 1989 as a watershed. And if last year the focus was on the practices of the Soviet-bloc states, the three main presentations of this panel dealt with the attitudes of the late-socialist intelligentsia. Starting with Yulia Latynina’s oft-repeated ruminations on the (limited) capacity of ordinary people to choose their rulers, for example, Ilya Budraytskis (Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Science/ Russian Socialist Movement) offered a detailed historical account of the Russian intelligentsia’s relationship with “the people.” To simplify his argument, if the emerging nineteenth-century intelligentsia sought to overcome its enormous social distance from “the people,” its late-twentieth-century successors took exactly the opposition direction: towards greater distinction from the masses. Specifying his terms, Budraytskis argued that today’s intelligentsia comprises two vastly different social categories—poorly paid teachers, museum workers, and others who have not become part of today’s capital flows, on the one hand, and well-to-do urban middle classes, on the other—and is thus primarily a residual ideological and historical category with little real economic basis. The huge irony Budraytskis pointed to was that it is precisely Latynina and her peers throughout Central and Eastern Europe who have achieved virtual monopoly on the category “democrats” while at the same time denying the right and capacity of “the people” to govern themselves. While Latynina represents the reductio ad absurdum of the anti-populist liberal position, this attitude is shared by the majority of postsocialist intellectuals, who view the poor and the less educated as the major obstacle to their countries’ accession to “the West.”

Other talks throughout the conference kept returning to that motif of the anti-populism of the intellectuals in its different manifestations. Drawing on Spanish material, Nellie Buier (CEU/ Critic Atac) showed how professional historians have suppressed the histories of working-class militancy in the last years of Franco’s rule in favor of a more orderly transition narrative with settlements negotiated between political leaders. The intellectuals’ epistemological, cultural, and political bias against working-class subjects quickly emerged as a central theme in the conference and the theme of future initiatives. Joining the conference via skype, Stefan Guga (CEU/ Critic Atac) demonstrated Romanian sociology’s scholarly erasure of the working class over the last twenty years. If it ever merited any attention, it was in the role of “homo Sovieticuses” incapable of participating in civil society (a category reserved for “the middle classes, the agent of progress in the transitology/ democratization paradigm). It suffices to look at the questions on which the Russian Levada Center bases its surveys to see that those problems aren’t confined to Romanian sociology. Continued scholarly struggle against “communism,” topics-defined research grants, and ultimately, postsocialist sociologists’ own class position and aspirations explain the huge lacunae and biases of their field.

Another whole panel run by Mikolai Lewicki, Adam Ostolsky and Maciek Gdula (Warsaw University/ Krytyka Politycna) was devoted to the banishment of the category of “class” (except, of course, in the oft-invoked “middle class”) from Polish sociology and its replacement with a stratification analysis, whose central categories (division of labor, inequality, mobility) not only offer a very weak critique of the contemporary neoliberal order but also help naturalize it. Interestingly, they argued, the substitution took place with the very founding of sociology in Soviet-bloc countries, already in the 1960s rather than after 1989. Governments, state socialist or capitalist, don’t particularly like the exposure of social conflict in their societies. Happy to oblige, Polish sociology has traditionally divided society into eight functionalist (and hence, reasonably harmonious) strata. Departing from that convention in the second part of their panel, Ostolsky and Gdula limited that number to three and offered a Bourdieusian class analysis of those categories. Their presentation was followed by a lively exchange regarding the applicability of Bourdieu’s theory beyond French society, the relevance of their findings about Polish class structure to other postsocialist societies, and the difference between Marxian and Bourdieusian class analysis. (The latter was found more pessimistic as it could not imagine a world without exploitation, unlike the former, which had a utopia.)

Right to the City

One of the most impressive panels was a collective presentation by six members of Budapest’s City for All group, comprising homeless people and student activists (Mariann Dosa, Zsuzsana Postfai, and Csaba Jelinek). After an extended introduction of David Harvey’s Right to the City (RTC) framework and the global context of urban struggles, the presenters focused on their own movement. An alliance of homeless people and younger, middle-class student activists is not necessarily an easy one to maintain. That the City for All has survived the tensions over the last several years and even come up with strategies to diminish the division of labor between the two groups is a testimony to the longevity of their initiative.

In the ensuing discussion about the applicability of the RTC framework, conference participants did not reach a single conclusion about its potential. On the one hand, the processes of urban dispossession and capital accumulation and the resulting tensions between extreme wealth and extreme poverty are if anything more dramatic in the postsocialist world than they are in Western European or North American cities, where this framework was first developed. As RTC activists assert following Henri Lefebvre, the city has indeed become the new factory, the new site of consciousness formation. On the other hand, that framework misses the poverty and social problems spatially displaced outside of the city. Many on the left would find the rights concepts on which RTC is based too liberal to offer an analysis of power relations. Complicating the applicability question is the sheer unevenness of the postsocialist urban structure: if the stories of the homeless activists were about escaping unemployment in smaller towns and villages only to find themselves without housing in Budapest, the city where the jobs and capital are concentrated, Warsaw does not enjoy such a dominant position vis-à-vis other Polish cities and the Polish RTC movement is less centered on the country’s capital. Kacper Pobocki (University of Poznan/ RTC Poland) demonstrated how RTC language and practices could be employed by both middle-class bicyclists in need of bike lanes and by working-class city-dwellers, who have seen the public space available to them diminish owing to overbuilding. Using his study of the Romanian city of Cluj, Norbert Petrovici (Babeş-Bolyai University/ Group for Social Action) examined an urban politics based on another, more problematic alliance: between the nationalist middle classes (represented by Mayor Gheorghe Funar) and working-class ethnic Romanians.

In the ensuing discussion, Volodymyr Ishchenko (Protest Data Project Director @ Kiev’s Center for Society Research/ the Ukrainian Commons journal) expressed his doubts whether Ukrainian urban movements can become the site of core leftist struggles. Urban protests, he argued, have so far failed to transcend the NIMBY (not-in-my-backyard) stage and link up in a geographically and politically broader movement. At the same time, urban struggles are easily co-optable as the far-right Ukrainian party Svoboda recently illustrated when it claimed the successes of one particular wave of urban protests in Kiev. In her comparative study of Venezuelan and Bulgarian practices of squatting and the official response to them, Mariya Ivancheva drew attention to the role of the state in those struggles. The contrast between the Bulgarian state’s eviction of the Roma inhabiting one Sofia neighborhood and the Venezuelan state’s (contradictory, but still, admirable) initiative of housing Caracas’s homeless in refugios (abandoned hotels and other unused buildings) was not in Bulgaria’s favor. When the European Court and NGOs finally intervened to help the evicted Roma, they did so in a highly problematic way, reducing the eviction to individual discrimination based on skin color rather than urban inequalities and economic structure.

The Uncivil Society: Countermovements on the Right

The discussion of urban social movements nicely set up the next two panels devoted to counter-hegemonic movements on the right and the left, respectively. A number of different frameworks have been applied to the study of right-wing movements. In terms of their origins, most scholarship has seen their members as either homo Sovieticuses unable to adapt to the new realities or as subjects driven by populist (unrealistic) passions. In terms of political function, right-wing movements are often interpreted as a surrogate left (here one is reminded of August Babel’s “anti-Semitism as the socialism of the fools” thesis) or as the Trojan horse of capitalism. Martin Marinos’s (U of Pittsburgh/ New Left Initiatives, Bulgaria) presentation sought to place the major Bulgarian nationalist party (ATAKA, which at its peak received 15% of the vote) precisely on this more traditional left-to-right spectrum. He contrasted their loudly declared interest in social justice for Bulgarians with the emptiness of the publicity stunts meant to demonstrate that commitment and the equally loudly declared support for national capitalism. Ultimately, he had to conclude that whatever their economic views, they are at best of secondary interest in their overall ideology and their coherence is thus not particularly important. The other two case studies examined the specific forms in which nationalist parties operated. Marek Mikuš (LSE) described a Serbian right-wing movement attempting to fight the Belgrade LGBT Pride Parade, among other things, by adopting the language and practices of an NGO. This, uncivil society, mimics all the features of civil society, defends its prisoners (arrested as for beating up Pride Parade participants), using the language of human rights, supports “grassroots” initiatives (to beat up some or other minority), and runs a “civic slate” of candidates for parliament. Finally, Ilya Budraytsksis contextualized right-wing movements’ trajectories in and out of the Russian system of managed democracy. In the mid-2000s, the ruling elite attempted to incorporate nationalists into the parliamentary system through the Rodina party. When the party grew in popularity on the eve of the 2005 Moscow Duma elections and when nationalists showed signs of radicalization (especially in the aftermath of the 2005 anti-Chechen pogroms in the northern city of Kondogopa), however, it was thrown out of managed democracy and the authorities set about taming its more extremist factions. Despite the nationally specific context out of which they emerged, the right-wing movements looked very recognizeable to all conference participants and the discussion proceeded without significant disagreements.

Too numerous to capture: Countermovements on the Left

That wasn’t true of the counter-movements on the left, the panel meant to be the centerpiece of the whole conference. Whether it was the exhaustion of the fourth day of the conference or the fact that most of us had left the bar at 2 am the night before thanks to Gáspár Miklós Tamás’s presence, the accounts told of leftist political protests in postsocialist societies did not stick together very well. It was suggested later, at the end of the conference, that the panel’s coherence problem might be symptomatic of the lack of knowledge of each other’s social movements and our absence of a common language to articulate them. The conference was not assembled under the formal principle of representing different groups from the postsocialist world: it just so happened that a significant portion of the participants were involved in one social movement or another. Those movements took very different forms. The panel was opened by András Istvánffy, the leader of the Fourth Republic, a Hungarian formation that identifies as a populist left and is in the process of entering electoral politics in Hungary. Other participants identified their organizations as journals of social critique: the Polish Krytyka Polityczna, the Ukrainian Спiлне (Commons), the Belorussian Прасвет (Dawn) or the Romanian Critic Atac. In each case, the journal serves as the basis for a much wider range of activities of the group. But even within the range of those journals, the situation is barely comparable. Founded in 2002, Krytyka Polityzna is the oldest such magazine and the largest organization. It has a huge publishing house with over 100 employees, discussion clubs in a couple of dozen Polish cities and ongoing international efforts such as a London branch and a Ukrainian-language version of the journal. By contrast, the Нови Леви Перспективи (New Left Perspectives) collective to which most Bulgarian conference participants belonged emerged only this year and is only now developing a journal of its own. Nevertheless, in addition to the impressive speaker series it initiated this year, they are frequent travelers to smaller Bulgarian cities where they screen political documentary films as well as active participants in Sofia protests. A member of that collective, Mariya Ivancheva spoke at length about her experience of trying to persuade young middle-class ecological protestors from Sofia to act beyond their immediate class interest and link their struggles with other social or labor protests. Another organizational form represented at the conference was student activism and even then there were several different instantiations of it: the Ukrainian independent student union Direct Action, the Croatian union of students and faculty, and the Hungarian Student Network. The three groups represented different types of response to the inaction and bureaucratization of the official student unions in their country. Such a variety of organizational forms reflects the specific conditions faced by activists in a given society but also complicates their interaction.

Longer talks

While the conference was conceived as a “school without teachers,” several senior scholars did support our effort with a talk. In the opening day of the conference, the Hungarian historian and sociologist Attila Melegh (Corvinus University/ Global Civil Society Program) offered a comparative view of political violence in the post-WWII world, the world of Stalin’s Gulag and political purges in the newly-constructed Soviet bloc but also of colonial and racial violence perpetrated by the British, French, and US state. Melegh argued that the latter is usually missing from discussions of totalitarianism, a discourse usually reserved for Nazi Germany and the Soviet bloc. This kind of erasure allows a figure such as Robert Schumann to be remembered solely for his role as the founding father of the European Union rather than a major figure of mid-twentieth-century French colonial policy. What allowed Melegh to conduct such comparisons was not some measure of the political violence such as numbers of casualties, but the economic relations that underlay that violence, whether of a Stalinist or capitalist kind. Defining capitalism as a global fight for resources, for example, he posited that there is no such thing as a capitalist state in itself. Such a state necessarily exists within a capitalist state system of which colonial capitalism constituted a major part in the post-WWII period.     

In his talk “Whitened Histories,” the Hungarian-American sociologist József Böröcz (Rutgers U, New Jersey) continued his long-term project of applying a postcolonial perspective to the European Union. In this talk, however, he focused on race relations in Hungary’s postsocialist politics. Defining a racial view of the world as a perspective that divides humanity into distinct populations, which could be placed in a hierarchical and trans-historical order, Böröcz claimed that the coincidental development of that view, of classical sociology, and of many of the institutions of the modern East European state meant the incorporation of that view into scholarship and state bureaucracy. The socialist state was only partially interested in or successful at its elimination. Since the end of that regime type was divorced from critiques of pre-1945 capitalism, what we have now is the full-fledged restoration of that racial worldview in the postsocialist world. In its pursuit of its pre-communist origins and the privileges of global whiteness, the Hungarian state has been rehabilitating fairly odious expressions or proponents of that racial worldview, especially from the interwar era. Employing the trope of “whiteness”—both physical and metaphorical,--Böröcz went on to interpret a number of cultural debates in today’s Hungary that range from the politics of memorialization (the ghettoization and leveling of art produced during state socialism or the rehabilitation of some odious pre- or anti-communist figures) to representations of Africans or Roma in mass culture. For him, the whole pursuit of a “European” identity in the postsocialist world is a deeply fraught activity because of the inextricability of “European identity” from whiteness and colonialism.

Professor László Bruszt (European University Institute/ CEU) gave a talk on critical sociology. Speaking in favor of a more pluralistic approach to critical sociology, Professor Bruszt argued that neoclassical sociology (the ideas of Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and Karl Polanyi) could also serve as basis for social critique, favorably contrasting that tradition to “dogmatic Marxism.” Despite the very cordial tone of the subsequent question-and-answer session, one was left under the impression that most of the audience were left unpersuaded by Bruszt’s argument, siding instead with “dogmatic Marxism.” The final question posed by a member of that audience—whether one could say that neoclassical sociology’s positive ideal lies in a “capitalism with a human face” whereas Marxism cannot imagine an ideal within contemporary capitalism, answered by Professor Bruszt in the affirmative—gave a succinct formulation to the difference between speaker and the majority of the audience.

The conference closed, appropriately, with an uplifting and programmatic speech by Gáspár Miklós Tamás, a leading Hungarian intellectual and former dissident. According to him, the demise of the Communist Party as a political form opens the question about the forms our challenge to the global economic order could take. Without giving concrete answers to that question, he suggested three principles in developing those forms: an insistence on spontaneity and refusal of hierarchy; no abandonment of our preoccupation with theory; and a certain monastic rigor. He went on to elaborate the last point through an extensive analogy with early Christianity, which owed much of its success to the fasting, celibacy, and life of voluntary poverty of its practitioners. Early Christians’ courage of absolute refusal offers a powerful model of the self-denial of academic accolades and institutional acceptance. Using the example of the Soviet bloc of the 1960s, which entered into a competition for economic development with the West (and lost), Gáspár Miklos Tamás argued that today’s left shouldn’t compete with the liberal mainstream on the latter’s terms but should instead build its own, parallel institutions. Similarly, we shouldn’t debate the liberals on their own terms. We shouldn’t have to accept the moralizing and naturalizing terms of today’s discourses about the Greeks/ gypsies/ the poor being too lazy, the intellectuals—too useless, the old—too old. At best, those debates put us on the defensive. The only hope we have of winning them is by reframing them historically, for our side is with history and against the moralizing and racializing discourses of the right. And if the postsocialist left is weaker than many of its kindred movements in the West or the South, capitalism in this part of the world—its institutions, its legitimacy, and its hold over people’s minds—is also weaker. Eastern Europe has always been a weak link of capitalism and this is the source of our hope. The fact remains as true nowadays as it was in Lenin’s time.

What Is to Be Done?

Following Gáspár Miklós Tamás’s speech, the conference participants spent the final hour planning what is to be done after they leave Budapest. Even after an exhausting five days there was a collective determination and sufficient energy not to let this conference be yet another event promptly forgotten after its end. The political and intellectual stakes of the conversation were simply too high. Most of the proposals voiced concerned the integration of the various ongoing initiatives (upcoming activist meetings of the Transeuropa Network, academic conferences in the US later in 2012, the ex-Yugoslav Subversive Festival or thematic journal issues by the Hungarian Fordulat and the Ukrainian Commons) that place neoliberalism and its countermovements at the center of the analysis of postsocialist societies. The Bulgarian participants graciously offered to host next year’s gathering. Most of this concluding session, however, went towards the proposal to establish an open-source online magazine, in the format of Eurozine, but postsocialist in scope and leftist in its politics. The practical labor on such a magazine would allow to both work out the collective identity and to attract new people. The success or failure of the conference will be in large part measured by the realization of those proposals.

Regardless of their fate, however, in at least one respect the conference was an indisputable success. Critically minded young scholars from different East European societies, no longer content with the mantras of “democratization,” “civil society,” and “Europe,” which have at best unwittingly obscured and at worst valorized the neoliberalization of the former Second World, met each other, walked the streets of Budapest, and drank many a beer in Budapest’s Jewish district. Getting to know each other, to compare notes, to form communities and relationships is the first and necessary step to any transnational challenge to the neoliberal hegemony in the postsocialist space.

Rossen Djagalov