EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W046)

Imagining disorder, engendering change

Location John Hume Boardroom
Date and Start Time 26 Aug, 2010 at 14:30

Convenors

Katja Rieck (Goethe University Frankfurt / Main) email
Sebastian Schueler email
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Long Abstract

The term crisis in its present-day sense first emerged during the 17th century to refer to a moment in which the existing order of things appeared precarious, even inherently contingent. 'Crisis' thus embodies a particular imagining of contingency, indeterminacy and rupture, or disorder, that is integral to human existence, but which in post-Enlightenment thinking runs counter to a supposedly determinate cosmic order grounded in rational principles. And yet it is because of this particular imagining that choices and commitments are made. As such, the notion of crisis, in being intimately linked to corresponding ideas of human agency, responsibility and right action towards the achievement of a better society, embodies a kind of structure within dissolution, an ordered disorder, that is constitutive of modern societies in the West .

Taking this particular imagining of disorder as a point of departure, the workshop invites interested participants to examine specific imaginings of disorder, how they emerge in response to particular events or in particular socio-political or historical constellations. Among the questions addressed are: How do specific imaginings of disorder become meaningful in particular contexts? What practices and sentiments do they engender that make them socially or politically powerful? How do notions of disorder relate to the (pre-)existing order, do they bolster it or coalesce into movements for change? Can fresh insights into the dynamics of social change be gleaned from focussing on actors' imaginings of disorder?

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Atomic schizophrenia

Author: Raminder Kaur (University of Sussex)  email
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Long Abstract

In this paper, I consider how a crisis of public conscience and temporality related to the dropping of the atom bombs in Japan in 1945 led to a proliferation of imaginative outputs. My focus is not the USA, Europe or Japan which have received plentiful attention, but colonial India in the aftermath of the attack. How did people in a country which was on the peripheries of World War II respond to the event in a time of colonial oppression and the independence struggle? Using theories of the 'sublime' proposed by Immanuel Kant and developed by others, and 'schizophrenia' as proposed by Jacques Lacan and Felix Guattari, I focus on how heterogeneous dynamics of past and future temporalities manifested themselves in Bombay's expressive culture from the mid-1940s onwards.

Social problems, perceptions of disorder and the struggle for a 'full implementation' of Islamic Law and Order by the Youth Wing of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (Dewan Pemuda PAS)

Author: Dominik Müller (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)  email
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Long Abstract

For the Youth Wing of the Islamic Party of Malaysia (Dewan Pemuda PAS) social problems among the young generation are a central field of concern. Among these perceived "social ills" are alcohol and drug abuse, an increasing crime rate, "unislamic" subcultures (such as Met Rempit, Punk, Black Metal, Gothic, clubbing), adultery ("zina"), as well as premarital "free sex" and gender mingling of non-married youths ("pergaulan bebas" / "khalwat").

My paper, which is based on fieldwork conducted between 2009 and 2010 will examine how Dewan Pemuda PAS tries to achieve its goal of social and political change, how they currently try to find new and more effective ways to reach out to society and especially the young generation, which challenges and difficulties they face (both from an emic as well as an etic point of view), and how that process of trying to overcome these difficulties is changing the party itself.

Surviving permanent rapid change: Montenegrin culture of change

Author: Klavs Sedlenieks (Riga Stradins University)  email
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Long Abstract

Why is there so little respect for the power of law in some ex-Socialist countries? Why are they simultaneously "changing rapidly" and "resisting change"?

I take up the example of Montenegro and demonstrate that Montenegrins divide their world in two spheres. The first changes rapidly, is to be used for solving immediate problems and is not associated with honor. Activities related with the state, the government, political parties, the business world and NGOs fall into this area. The other sphere seemingly resists change and is related with honor. This sphere includes kin and fictive kin relations.

I argue that such division helps Montenegrins navigate the world in which constant change (crisis) is a permanent feature upon which Montenegrins themselves have little influence.

Arguably similar "cultures of change" geared to surviving regular (externally imposed) crises can be observed elsewhere - in ex-Socialist or post-colonial settings.

Imagining crisis: the social construction of sequence in series of crises

Author: Alan Smart (University of Calgary)  email
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Long Abstract

There is considerable evidence that a succession of crises or disasters affecting the same group of people has much greater negative consequences than does a single incidence. On the other hand, a series of crises are also more likely to result in policy learning and more effective policy than is a single episode which can be dismissed as idiosyncratic. However, the construction of the "series" of crises is not innocent, but is socially constructed and contested. Is the current financial crisis part of a series including the 1930s Depression, or instead simply a deeper episode of cyclical downturns? This paper draws on past research on a series of crises in Hong Kong in the 1950s that produced the public housing program, and an ongoing series of crises affecting beef producers in Canada, including the 2003 outbreak of mad cow disease.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.