Monday, 29 January 2018

Urs Lindner presents a working paper on 'The Egalitarian Character of Affirmative Action. On its Desirability and Viability'

Which is the positive vision of a better society that is at stake in affirmative action policies? What kind of equality do these policies policies strive to achieve? The paper aims to answer these questions in four steps. First, it is argued that the normative conflict about affirmative action is basically one between formal and substantial equality. In the following chapters, three kinds of substantial equality are discussed: equal opportunity, distributive equality and relational equality. It is shown that equal opportunity and distributive equality run into problems both as regards the desirability and the viability of affirmative action and that only relational equality can provide a normatively and pragmatically adequate framework for this policy.

Juhi Tyagi is going to present a working paper on 'Radical peasant movements and the trajectory of capital: a comparison of cotton production in Warangal and Sabarkantha, India'

This paper attempts to answer the question of what, if anything, have radical social movements achieved for the poorest. Like most peasants in the Global South, those supported by radical movements nevertheless landed in the throes of capitalism, increasingly becoming immiserated wage labour.

Using the case of two provinces in India that had the presence and absence of a radical movement respectively, I undertake an examination of how radical social movements might shape the trajectory of the state and capital, and in turn, impact the conditions of labour.
Although both economies under consideration, I argue, transitioned to capitalist practices, in movement absent areas —  small and marginal farmers lacking a worker’s organization —  remained stuck in previous exploitative relations of production. In such areas, any break in labour conditions came only from random opportunities that arose in the local economy. In movement present areas, I find, although new relations of exploitation replaced old ones, an organizational structure of protest that had provided land and wage gains for the peasant class in the past, led to creating further contradictions between labour and the capitalists. This resulted in renewed protest cycles and an advancement in wage opportunities for the peasant masses. I conclude with what I see as the impact of armed social movements in the global south in creating ‘economies of struggle,’ where collective action organizing pays off in terms of improving peoples’ livelihoods and more significantly, in creating a protest infrastructure that can and does become deployed more willingly in labour-capital struggles.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Rimi Tadu presents a working paper on 'Understanding the State making process in the Eastern Himalayas'

This study is based on my doctoral research study on the local history of an event called Kure Chambyo, where a large group of Tanii men of Arunachal Pradesh had led an attack on the Indian military outpost called Kure near the Tanii homeland. What is interesting to note about the event is that not only in official government records the narratives of the event is almost non-existent, even the locals have never commemorated the event. While the post-Kure Chambyo occupation and oppression carried out by the Indian administrators in the Tanii valley still remain as painful memories among the elderly members of the community, the younger generations are hardly aware of the event. This event was never commemorated or retold. When I discussed with people, it is not seen as a proud memory but as a moment of ‘foolish and barbaric’ act by older and traditional Taniis. Some spoke about the event as if it questioned their sense of patriotism towards India.
This project aims to critically engage with the state formation processes in Arunachal Pradesh during the early period (1950s-1980s) For various reasons such as its geo-political location of this state, it is placed as a critical region for India. As a result it carried out a highly controlled national integration policy which has completely transformed the diverse ethnic communities from autonomous and state-less communities to a state citizen. And this happened in a very short span of time. Through a complex political and social processes, the region was integrated with India, and its people socialized to state system despite their autonomous past. However, what follows along with such state socialization is the sense and consciousness towards power and authority in one hand and the realization of powerlessness and subordination by people who are dominated and controlled.
In this working paper I am trying to problematize this national integration policy carried out in Arunachal Pradesh. While national integration on itself might not be a problem but the way it was carried out by a powerful state over a community whose consent was never taken to begin with. Raising these questions are important for the critical history of each of these communities and for the reality of nation-state of India, and for understanding the nature of the state. In this paper I have not answered any of the questions but just earmarked them and pointed out how they might look like.

Emiliano Rubens Urciuoli gives a working paper on 'Unoffered Pain. Sacrifice and Martyrdom: An Uneasy Companionship'

This paper is on religion but not the city. Based on a 2017 conference talk I am now reworking for publication (the volume will be edited by the organizers of the conference, Jennifer Otto and Katharina Waldner), its genesis predates the series of intellectual, financial, and organizational events that have resulted in my personal ‘axial age’ called ‘Urban Religion’. Actually, the core of this piece dates back even before Otto’s and Waldner’s workshop, since it was drafted in between my first research stay (2013) and my first research contract (2015) in Erfurt. Over these four years, the shape of the text has significantly changed and some of the people attending this colloquium have played a role in this metamorphosis – without being accountable for its shortcomings.
The structure of the text reverses the actual chronology of the incorporated materials. In 2014, I was invited to a cross-disciplinary workshop in Lausanne whose title was ‘Martyres et sacrifices. Atelier comparatiste d’histoire des religions’. The presentation text featured a definition of martyrdom aiming at providing the participants with a common framework. It read as follows : ‘le martyr est celui qui se sacrifie volontairement pour une cause supérieure, parfois en entraînant d’autres personnes avec lui dans la mort’. My idea was to question these definitional guidelines by tackling the problem of the conceptual-discursive blending between martyrdom and sacrifice and sketching an archeology of this connection in the early Christian literature. The long second section of today’s paper reworks and expands this issue. It aims to show how uneasy, unstable, and situational the textual beginnings of this relationship appear to be and seeks to explain this find – a find that flies in the face of many scholars’ assumptions and perhaps some readers’ expectations.
The first part of the paper is far more recent. It is a theoretical reflection building on cognitive studies of religion and stimulated by Otto’s and Waldner’s emphasis on violence as one of the three main axes of their 2017 workshop (the other two are ‘Trauma’ and ‘Identity’). Comprising deep-rooted, panhuman mechanisms to encode and react to experiences of violence, the cognitive substratum is the first of the three intertwined dimensions I look at in order to dig out the nexus between sacrifice and martyrdom. I call the other two layers ‘socio-symbolic’ and ‘discursive-conceptual’ dimension. Only the latter will be thoroughly examined in the paper. Yet now that I am thinking backwards in order to write this introduction I clearly realize how and to what extent all the three dimensions actually bespeak of violence, namely: 1) the deep-historical, universal experience of physical violence that has long triggered and stabilized ways to encode knowledge and memories about context-depending ‘things’ like sacrifice and martyrdom; 2) the material and symbolic violence of an ancient social system comprising social technologies of reciprocity that imposed restrictions to the manners of thinking and talking about sacrifice and martyrdom; 3) the hermeneutical violence of a religious tradition that has long endorsed the conceptual-discursive blending between sacrifice and martyrdom, channeled it through the centuries, upgraded it to commonsense, and now is inviting us to read this ‘winning’ paradigm back into the earliest extant texts.
This paper is also looking forward. Right from the start, it attempts to smuggle the ‘Urban Religion program’ into its subject by saying that ancient Christian martyrdom is ‘a full-blown urban religious practice’. This sentence opens a small window onto the role martyrdom is going to play in my ongoing research.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Giulia Pedrucci is going to present a working paper on 'Epistemological and Methodological Reflections on the Study of Religions, Gender, and Women. Demeter and Kore/Persephone: The mother-daughter relationship as a fruitful case study'

Through an approach that combines the academic study of religions with motherhood studies, this paper examines rarely considered maternal aspects of Demeter, a goddess of the pantheon of ancient Greek religion. We first discuss which theoretical inputs and categories of maternal theory are relevant to uncover innovative lines of research on religious representations and practices in polytheistic systems of the past, thus also contributing to broader epistemological reflections in the history and study of religions. Then, considering the Homeric Hymn as well as key ritual elements of the Thesmophoria festival through the lenses of maternal theory, we examine the mother-daughter relationship and place emphasis on the role of the mother as maternal trainer. This concrete case study from the ancient Greek world demonstrates the relevance for historians of religions of considering past polytheistic systems while harnessing the fruitful interdisciplinary potential of maternal theory.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Arthur Bueno presents a working paper on 'Simmel and the Forms of In-dividuality'

The work of Georg Simmel is widely known for the case it makes for a strong connection between modernity and individualization. In his sociological theory as in the Philosophy of Money, in his writings on intellectual history as in his aesthetic and metaphysical essays, a perspective on modern culture is advanced according to which the latter is distinguished from other historical epochs by a peculiar accentuation of individuality. Common to all these different endeavours is, moreover, the view that such foregrounding of the individual is an inherently conflictual process. The emergence of modern individuality is thereby regarded not only as the outcome of struggles against previous forms of social organization, but also as bringing forward new tensions of its own. It is for no other reason that Simmel so often presented the forms taken by the modern individual in dualistic terms. Less visible, however, is the fact that those analyses present not only different figures of in-dividuality, with its accentuated sense of independence and self-sufficiency, but also distinct modes of in-dividuality marked by an openness to being permeated by something other than oneself. In fact, when one follows the thread of these dualisms in Simmel’s work it becomes clear that, despite an initial focus on the boundedness of the in-dividual, the in-dividual aspects of personal and social experience come to acquire over time an increasingly significant role, with decisive consequences for his view on modernity.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Eleonore Schulz gives a working paper on ' "... that everyone is free to perform his duties" - Freedom concepts of theologians in Southern Germany between 1780 and 1792'

The paper presents texts from the period 1780-1792, in which theologians from Southern Germany draft concepts of freedom. The presented theologians are the rabbi Isaak Alexander, the Catholic theologians Eulogius Schneider, Benedikt Maria Werkmeister and Joseph Rendler, and the Protestant theologians Johannes Kern and Gebhard Ulrich Brastberger. They are geographically mobile - important cities are: Augsburg, Heidelberg, Regensburg, Salzburg, Strasbourg, Stuttgart, Vienna, Würzburg - and are connected to different social spaces, the court, universities and schools, monasteries and parishes. Because of their social background, their education and often far-reaching interests that are not limited to theology and philosophy, they are very articulate representatives of the
emerging modern bourgeoisie. None of them has been examined in detail so far in his theological reference to the political and philosophical discussions and changes of his time and against the background of social and regional history. This paper focuses on an interpretation of the sources based on the critique of the Enlightenment and the interests of its social carriers. The concepts of freedom and the perception of social relationships and changes they illustrate are thus classified in their social function. By this means an argumentation common to all of them becomes clear, in which central elements of the emerging modern bourgeois consciousness are articulated: The judicial office of God is relocated into nature and the conscience of man. The fact that man makes God available in
his special function as a judge relates to a new conception of time. Apocalypticism is reinterpreted into a worldly, dynamic eternity. This corresponds to the growing experience of an accumulation of knowledge, world domination and property. The alleged universalism which the new, predictable, logically acting and omnigracious judge and planner God represents, masks the particularity of this accumulation. This judge God supposedly serving the common good is in reality biased. Via nature, history and conscience he ultimately dissolves in the civil law and state. Thus, all of the five theologians speak in principle of liberties, not of freedom.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Julia Seeberger presents a working paper on 'Traces of the Olfactory:Two different ways of interpretation of the olfactory lines in the visions of Agnes Blannbekin'

My dissertation project is based on the visions of a woman, called Agnes Blannbekin, who lived in Vienna in the late 13th century. Her confessor, an unknown brother, who belonged to the Order of the Friars Minor in Vienna, recorded her life and visions. In short articles in encyclopaedias for Christian female mysticism Agnes Blannbekin is mostly described as a representative of the typical Later Middle Ages piety, who focused on Jesus Christ and the longing for Jesus. Agnes Blannbekin is also known as the only Beguine in the Austrian area.
My research interest is twofold. I firstly deal with the manuscripts and the context of the relationship between the female protagonist and the community of the Order of the Friars Minor. The common classifications i.e. as a beguine or the name Agnes Blannbekin, could not be proved in the manuscripts. Secondly, I analyse the outstanding position of odoratus (smell or the sense of smell) in the visions or within the context of the piety.
The paper today is a short version of my theoretical frame. It presents two different ways of interpretation of the olfactory line in the text. Further, it sheds light on the specifics of sensory history and a sensory approach.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Benjamin Sippel gives a working paper on 'Spectacles, Donations, and Specialists: Local Marketing and Distinction Strategies of Egyptian Cult-officials'

It is a topos of Ancient History to see Egyptian temple-officials as „indigenous elites“ Instead of taking this view for granted, I seek to investigate and specify their social role in micro-historical perspective by asking four basic questions to the historical evidence:
1) In which way did they establish distinctive communities within the Egyptian society? (Ch.1)
2) How did they advertise their role as religious specialists? (Ch.2)
3) Have they been social key-figures beyond temple-affairs? (Ch.3)
4) How did they deal with various scenarios of conflict and when did they succeed? (Ch.4)

The result of this study is twofold: On the one hand, it contributes to our knowledge of individual and local specific strategies of distinction and self-promotion of these “elites”, but it highlights also limits of priestly influence and outreach on society. On the other hand, it adds flesh to our knowledge of several rural village communities, which provided very different social, economic, and cultural frameworks, though they share the same region and political organisation. Regarding the second point, the study is limited to five, selected settlements of the Roman Fayum.

Luise Marion Frenkel is going to present a working paper on 'Narratives of synodical harmony and consensus in Late Antiquity'

Roman and Christian identities and especially their processes of institutionalisation have often been related to the decision-making processes of select representative bodies, such as the Senates in Rome and Constantinople, and the synods. The project aims to show that the literary evidence provides little insight into the real processes and rituals of decision-making. Instead, the texts in manuscripts, papyri, epigraphy and other media provide information about the expectations about concepts and methods which could be associated to these groups and processes. In view of the evidence about the production, use, archival, transmission and translation of texts in Late Antiquity, the current research focus is on the options for using written media in what were predominantly oral cultures and on the choice of idiom and literary styles which engage with values that can be associated to the Roman Empire. The goal is a book on ‘the authority of consensus in Late Antiquity’, focusing on expressions of unanimity which envisaged imperial readership. The production and use of narratives about consensus in Christian synods will probably be the leitmotiv. Particular attention will be given to the literature de facto or allegedly produced in the first half of the fifth-century about fourth-century and contemporary events. Emphasising that the texts were created, received and modified as part of various social and cultural contexts in which they were only a fraction of the narratives and values associated to its contents and authors, a number of examples will provide a composite picture of the values and expectations about the proceedings and their literary representations.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Marialilia Cavallaro presents a working paper on 'The Shapes of Spartan Identities in the Traditions of Ritual Practices for Apollo'

The paper reprises one of the main points of my research in Greek history, aiming to underline the plurality of identities in the Greek societies. It is a kind of discussion that tries to show the very contemporary aspects of the research on ancient History, through an anthropological reflection on social behaviors which involves the relationship between religion and politics. Focusing the attention on religious aspects, I intend to analyze a kind of identity that is not necessarily connected with a principle of territoriality, pertaining to the modern so-called “liquid identities”, but that is no less founded on a strong roots of cultural belonging and social identification. 
The discourse on the forms of reception of the divine figure of Apollo, within cults and Greek festivals, finds in celebrations of the Dorian area a fundamental reference to understand the most archaic phases of the cults for the god. The study of the so-called "Dorian area" allows us to investigate a cultural dimension that is not spatially circumscribed but rather composite, specially on social level. If plural dimensions that cross the boundaries of territoriality were recognized from the Greeks by the time of the first colonization (VIIIth century), in the case of the Dorian Migrants, however, the original divergence of the relationship between ethnos and territory assigned to the identity's discussion a central importance: both within the formation of the individual Dorian communities of the archaic age, and, subsequently, with the establishment of the balance of power among the Greek poleis. 
The Spartan festivals preserved very ancient traces of this process of construction and acquisition of identity, that, conveyed by means of religious practices, intended to obtain the fundamental response through the participation of the politai, true agents of the identity. 
At the center of the narrative on the invention of a Spartan tradition it is possible to observe the figure of Dorian Apollo, as a god on which were founded the roots of the Dorian-Spartan community, both on a politic dimension and on a religious agency.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Sarah Al-Taher is going to present a working paper on 'An approach to the concept of lack/deficiency and its meaning in Meister Eckhart's work'

In this paper I try to develop a concept of “deficiency” (Mangel) in the German Work of Meister Eckhart. Looking into the Concept of deficiency in all its variations, leads to the necessity of also considering Eckhart’s use of the Terms „Nothing“ and „Being“.
I divided the relevant texts of Eckhart into two categories: (1)Metaphysical, ontological questions and (2) texts about virtue. This allows a wide Concept of deficiency which will be discussed it the paper.

Bennet Bergmann gives a working paper on 'Why do people meditate?'

This paper is supposed to give a first impression of the research project and should therefore retrace the research leading interest. The conceptual procedure is to be reconstructed so that the reader is able to get an impression of the forthcoming research.
At the beginning it is pointed out that meditation practices nowadays appear in a wide variety and that it is necessary for meditation research to focus on practicing subjects. Furthermore possibilities are discussed to find a comprehensive model in which meditation practices can be categorized. Rosas resonance theory (2016) is presented as such a model and the research questions are formulated in a resonance theoretical perspective. Concluding, the project is to be related to previous approaches of the study of Buddhism and meditation.
The three main questions of this project are: 1. (How) is the self becoming a source of resonance through meditation? 2. (How) is the world becoming a harbor of resonance through meditation? 3. (How) is meditation itself becoming an oasis of resonance? The assumption which is to be surveyed is that different meditation practices lead to varying effects regarding these three questions. In that it is especially interesting to compare meditation practices with an individual orientation and those with a collective/religious orientation.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Folke Schuppert presents a working paper on 'Property. Idea- and Sociohistorical Perspectives on a Legal Institution'

When dealing with the phenomenon that is usually called “property”, it quickly becomes clear that it – while often being seen in terms of economic and legal reasonings – cannot be analysed but in a multidisciplinary way. The explanation and legitimation of property can and must then also be understood from the perspectives – and in the “languages” – of such fields as morals, ethics, political philosophy and social theory. This leads to speaking about property in terms of varying “images” of society, humans and the world (Weltbilder), i. e. the analysis has to reflect about different relational fields, in which relations among humans and of humans with the world (Eigentum als Weltbeziehung) are constituted. Property can thus be framed as part of the institutional ordering of the world in different “languages” (legal, political, theological, …). These languages and their perspectives help to create a place in this world (making sense of and in it/having a share in it), but also make it possible to potentially shield oneself from the world (the division of public and private sphere).

Monday, 8 January 2018

Christopher Smith gives a working paper on 'Roman Kingship and concepts of power'

This paper is an introduction to a three year project (funded by the Leverhulme Trust) to study the archaic Roman kings (mid-8th to late 6th century BC).  The intentions of the paper are:
1.   To lay out the specific methodological problem of dealing with this evidence
2.   To propose three distinct ways of working with the evidence
3.    To give an example of how this might work in practice
4.  To encourage a discussion as to the extent to which the study of archaic Roman kingship can contribute to broader conversations about the nature of power and specifically sovereignty.
As such the paper is an overview more than a final statement of any specific part of the project, but I hope may elicit a conversation about method and the potential specific relevance of archaic Italy to more current questions

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Tanja Visic presents a working paper on ' “It’s time to move on”: Theoretical and conceptual framing of research on gendered aspects of contemporary female labor migration from the Former Yugoslavia to Germany'

 Framed as an outline of theoretical and methodological chapter of my dissertation this colloquium paper aims to to take an angle on what has been written so far and to situate my dissertation project in the broader literature on gender and migration studies whilst opening the door for qualitative research on gendered aspects of “labouring mobilities” of women from the Former Yugoslavia countries in Germany. The first aim of the paper is to take a chronological perspective, tracing the development of gender and migration studies in order to show how female migration is brought out of the shadow in many disciplines and how feminist academic critique affected main migration theories and paradigms creating a firm ground for interdisciplinary discussion in studies of migration. The second aim of the paper is to provide theoretical and conceptual framework for ethnographic research on domestic and care work from ex-Yugoslavia countries. As this is the first study discussing the relationship between gender and female migration from post-Yugoslavian societies to Germany, this paper seeks to address issues of geographical contextualization of female labor migration in order to challenge dominant concepts in the field of research while taking into account a historical background and problems of production of knowledge which contributes to understanding and explaining female migration for the last several decades. The theoretical framework will be used for researching and understanding how the citizenship, modes of employment and recruitment strategies informs life experiences and life biographies of women workers and and how contradictory migration policies allow to laboring subjects to combine irregular and regular aspects of employment – which will be the main focus of the following colloquium paper.