Gregor Moder (University of Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Project – title: Truth in Politics
“According to Spinoza, rights of individuals or groups are identical to their physical or psychical capabilities. If contemporary theory, including in its Marxist variations, explains political and social relations as the relations of power and domination, of ideology and hegemony, then one could say that it follows the basic premises of Spinoza’s Political Treatise. However, while there is little doubt that power relations are a required condition of any sensible political theory, do they also constitute its sufficient condition? The assumption of the proposed project is that this is not the case, and that one must indeed study not only power relations, but also a category which we shall call the truth. One cannot explain contemporary phenomena in politics without an explicit theory of truth. Let us take a typical proposition of the day, “We will build a wall and Mexico will pay for it”. It is obviously an untrue proposition. No one is fooled by it. How come, then, that it is politically successful? What if the obvious falseness of this claim is precisely that which makes it so effective? What if the fact that everyone immediately recognizes it as a lie is precisely the precondition of its success?”
Gruia Bădescu (Oxford University, UK)
Project – title: Spatializing Cultural Policies and Activism in Croatia and Romania: A Comparative, Transnational Study
“For decades now, many European cities have embraced a repertoire of cultural policies thought to stimulate spatial development —such as the cultural mega-event or the Bilbao-emulating contemporary art museum — and democratic practice— including diverse processes, ranging from the spatial memorialization of public crimes to an opening to citizen participation and inclusion. Participation and inclusiveness in city-making have been packaged in EU documents as a “European best practice”. Exported through various EU channels in new member states, these policies intersected –and at times clashed- with a strong local activism and grassroots organization calling in particular for more inclusive, participatory practices. My project will explore in a comparative and transnational frame the spatialisation and democratization of cultural policy in two such contexts, Croatia and Romania. It will examine the entanglements of various actors at the local scale, as well as similarities, differences and links between urban activism and policies in the two countries, often researched separately because of language limitations, historical differentiations, as well as narratives and imaginaries of exceptionalism. Aiming to understand the wider region as a space of flows of ideas and practices, and using the lens of comparative urbanism, I will explore how two particular themes in cultural policy and activism have been included in debates of spatial development and inclusiveness: the cultural mega-event and the process of memorialization. First, I will scrutinize the role of European Capital of Culture bids in spatial development and inclusive city-making, with a particular focus on how the theme of participation has been mobilized in the bids for capital of culture in Rijeka, Zagreb, Timisoara and Bucharest. Second, I will build on my current research as part of the AHRC-Labex research project “Criminalization of Dictatorial Pasts in Europe and Latin America in Global Perspective” to investigate the spatialisation of memory policies and politics and the entanglements between actors, both locally and transnationally.”
Marek Szilvasi (Budapest, Hungary)
Project – title: Between Commodity and Common Public Good: Access to Water and its Relevance for Roma People in Europe
“Management of water resources and water services, especially in the regions threatened by droughts and climate change, have been increasingly elevated to the centre of governmental and corporate private sector attention. Water scarcity has gradually become a topic of public scrutiny and various anti-capitalism and anti-globalisation social movements have adopted water supply among their agenda.
The research will examine how the perspective of Roma living in socially excluded neighbourhoods at the outskirts of selected towns in Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro confronts and informs the agenda of water privatisation and water municipalisation interest groups. It will examine the aspects of the contemporary debates on recognising water as public good and human right in three selected countries and analyse how is the advocates relate to the situation of socially excluded Roma.
Due to the persistent situation of social exclusion and ethnic discrimination, Roma across Europe find it difficult to have their voice heard and their situation considered by either one of these interest groups.”
Marija Ott Franolić (Zagreb, Croatia)
Project – title: Read, Think, Act
“In an unstable and shifting world with growing social injustices, the ability to think critically and creatively, as well as to show solidarity with others, could be a path to social change. The aim of my research is to interdisciplinary connect Adorno’s concept of education for “general enlightenment” to the act of critical and creative reading. The questions are: can the merging of critical and literary theory give us some answers on how to enhance critical thinking? Can reading fiction encourage the development of open-minded, solidary people ready for change?
I shall define and analyze the connection between reading literature and becoming an autonomous subject. I will connect Adorno’s views to literary theory and phenomenology, in order to inspect how creative and critical reading of literature can heighten our empathy, along the lines of the theory of Martha Nussbaum. In the light of Marx’s claim that one should educate the educators, I will implement my theoretical findings at the critical reading workshop with the students of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Rijeka. We will read creatively and try to imagine alternative, better ways of living.”
Mateja Kurir (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Project – title: Architecture as ideology: The perspectives of critical theory from modernism to the present
“A basic entry point to reflect on architecture, which has always been deeply connected with ideology, in the realm of critical theory is explicated by Fredric Jameson in Political Unconscious:
“How is it possible for a cultural text that fulfils a demonstrably ideological function, as a hegemonic work whose formal categories as well as its content secure the legitimation of this or that form of class domination – how is it possible for such a text to embody a properly utopian impulse, or to resonate a universal value inconsistent with the narrower limits of class privilege that inform its more immediate ideological vocation?”
The ideological function of architecture is the key focus of this project. Architecture will be held here as a prominent theoretical ground for the spatial formation of ideology as such. Critical theory has largely elaborated on the formation and understanding of ideology within architecture during the age of modernism (Benjamin, Adorno) and postmodernism (Tafuri, Jameson), as well as in neoliberalism.
The aim of the project is to prepare an article outlining the basic reception of architecture in critical theory from modernism to the present, in order to reflect on architecture as a spatial formation of ideology in the age of neoliberalism, where architecture is established as one of the prominent battle fields of capitalism.”
Natasha Sardžoska (Skopje, Macedonia)
Project – title: Mapping of Spatial Memory in Limitrophe Cities: Border-Landscapes and Border-Bodies
“The project draws on political meanings of borders which are perpetually blurred and shifted in tidal geography of continuous phenomenological evolution undergoing cultural mummification and erasure of preexisting maps. In the societal porosity context, where we are witnessing a revival of “quick sand” cultural boundaries, I shall focus on the production of new map of borders, flows of non-targeted displacements and dislocations, indeterminate journeys and nostalgia for a lost space instigated by the political shattering of urban zones. The corpus of my research are social actors and artists inhabiting Istria region who are disintegrating, misplacing, reinventing and questioning invisible boundaries in urban landscapes and the interstice of artistic, nominal and liminal interpretations. I plan to elaborate interventions reflecting space, new monuments, mapping of memory, mental landscapes, re-formed urban spaces. The larger context remains in the European border politics emerged from spatial reconfigurations. I draw on Italian, Slovenian and Croatians artists inhabiting Istria arguing forms of belonging, artistic exile and self-definition that unveil interrelations of cultural mutation processes from common spatial memory towards transitory emotional memory. The goal is to rethink the interconnected mapping and bordering meanings, which have become marginalized, detached, diasporic but at the same time a center and a nucleus of creativity, ontological uncertainty, cognitive anxiety, diversifying identifications and proliferating movements and unpredictable trajectories in a city. The question I am tackling is: is it so important to draw boundaries, charts and maps when the world has turned culturally liminal, flow and creolizing?”
Marco Abram (Rome – Italy)
Project – title: Integrating Rijeka into Socialist Yugoslavia: the Politics of National Identity and the New City’s Image (1947-1955)
Marco Abram has obtained a PhD in History at the University of Udine and a Master’s degree in History of Europe at the University of Bologna. His research interests mainly focus on the national question in Yugoslavia and he devoted his doctoral thesis to the study of Socialist Yugoslavism in Belgrade after the Second World War. He worked as a researcher at the Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso, where he was involved in a project aimed at studying the Italian civil society activism during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990’s. He has published several articles in academic journals and collective volumes and has been part of the editorial board of the historical journal “Diacronie. Studi di Storia contemporanea” since 2009.
Project – title: Industrial Urban Spaces: after Yugoslavia
“The first aim of this project is to anthropologically explore how people encounter urban infrastructure in two different post-Yugoslav industrial towns – in copper processing town of Bor (Serbia) and in industrial town of Rijeka (Croatia). The study will focus on people’s encounters with district heating in both towns (which rapidly expanded during self-managed socialism) to explore how moral economy, relationship with post-socialist state, industrial heritage and neoliberal discourses are embedded in people’s encounters with such urban infrastructure. I will explore how such encounters reproduce inequalities based on gender, age, generation and occupation.
The second aim is to raise academic interest into research of industrial urban spaces across former Yugoslavia and develop fruitful collaboration on the regional and international level. The aim is to encourage public discussions around the relationship between post-socialist industrial development and everyday lives in urban industrial spaces, which have had and still have a great social importance for the region (and Europe).”
Project – title: It’s Not the Thought that Counts: The Irrelevance of Intentions to the Moral Blameworthiness of Actions
“Some philosophers argue that intentions with which we act are non-derivatively irrelevant to the moral permissibility of our actions: in particular, intentions to harm or to do that which, in some relevant respect, is close to harm do not, or perhaps even cannot, render otherwise morally permissible actions impermissible or already impermissible actions more wrong. Most of those philosophers also argue that intentions are similarly relevant to the moral responsibility of actions, in the sense of their blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. Bad intentions of a kind just mentioned render blameless actions blameworthy and blameworthy actions more blameworthy. On the other hand, some defenders of the relevance of intentions suggest that, even if we accept the arguments of the critics and, in general, the conclusion that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility, it does not follow that some well-known principles which stress the relevance of intentions, such as the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE), are false, because those principles are concerned with moral blameworthiness rather than with moral permissibility. On their view, the DDE states that it is, other things being equal, more blameworthy to cause or to allow harm with intention to harm, as a means to an end or as an end, than to cause or to allow it as a foreseen but unintended side effect, even if it is equally permissible (or impermissible) to do either. Most people, then, find it intuitively compelling that intending harm, in itself, makes us open to blame. But that intuition is, I believe, false. The aim of my project is to demonstrate that intentions in acting are non-derivatively irrelevant to the blameworthiness of actions. In particular, I shall argue that if intentions are irrelevant to moral permissibility, they are irrelevant to blameworthiness, and for similar reasons. Since my PhD thesis defended the view that intentions are irrelevant to permissibility, in my project I plan to develop the arguments I expounded in the thesis.”
Project – title: The Slovene Reaction to the European Migrant Crisis: Class and Ideology at the edge of Schengen
“The European response to the 2015 migrant crisis was initially featured by warm welcome expressions from the European elites, especially from EU institutions and the German government. However, it quickly evolved into the enhancement of extremist positions and the “Fortress Europe” pretension. The opposition to the limited European Commission’s relocation and resettlement plan – initially led by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia – ended up in the conclusion of an agreement with Turkey for the return of asylum-seekers to that country. Along this process, governments, mainstream political parties and new far-right organizations have shaped cultural-related and seemingly technical discursive lines for rationalizing the exclusion and rejection of migrants. In the case of the Slovene elites, the justification for the closure of the “Balkan route” of refugees in September 2015 relied in the assumption of their responsibility to protect the Schengen external border and in the intention of remaining in the core of an eventual multi-speed Europe.
This project aims to define the state of the ideology within the Slovene ruling class during the migrant crisis, considering that ideological trends do not solely respond to agency, but also to structural relations, which take place inside polities and at the transnational level. The peripheral position of Slovenia within the EU and the consequences of the European economic crisis are departing points for assessing the existence of a contagion in the region after the arrival of migrants.”
Ernesto C. Sferrazza Papa
Project title: The “Wall”: Ontology, Politic, Culture
“In my presentation I’ve shared with colleagues and participants the current stages of my research project. I divided the presentation into three parts, namely the three point of views of my approach to the issue of the wall.
The first one is an ontological point, and I consider it the very theoretical grounding of the entire research. The wall is something that exists in the world, so it concerns with the ontology, the science of the being. But at the same time the wall is an artifact, an object existing in a social world, and its existence depends from the human hand that modifies a natural object. Thus, one of the privileged points of view for better understanding the issue of the wall is the social ontology. Therefore, I’d like to provide a clear definition of “political wall” based on the concept of “artifact”, discussing arguments and positions of authors such as Maurizio Ferraris, Diego Marconi, John Searle, Barry Smith.
In the second part of the presentation, I showed how and why such a research should deal with the political issue of the wall. Indeed, the increasingly growing of material borders all over the world shows us that walls are a global phenomenon that merit a careful and deep analysis. For this reason, french scholars Florine Ballif and Stephane Rosiere coined a neologism, teichopolitics (from the ancient greek teichos, the wall of the city) in order to define the politics of building walls at the statal borders for various security purposes. In this part of the presentation I’ve focused on the fundamental working principles of contemporary teichopolitics, namely the materialization of borders as a visible persistence of statal power (as Wendy Brown argues in his famous book Walled States, Waning Sovereignty), and the problem of the “regime of mobility”, which is a new global hierarchy based of different mobility potentialities.
In the third part, I have argued that a teichopolitical regime can work only through a specific cultural discourse on the “other” as a dangerous figure. Indeed, the teichopolitical logic is complementary to what, for instance, Ronen Shamir has defined the “paradigm of suspicion” and Ulrich Beck a “risk society”. In order to deconstruct the teichopolitical logics and its cultural “condition of possibility”, we need to rethink our political categories, and especially the fundamental figure of our time: the migrant.
At the end of the presentation, I have sketched out some possible next stages and developments of the research.”