Identity and agency in post totalitarian landscapes 
Bernhard Tschofen (University of Zurich)
Tower A, Piso 1, Room 103
Start time:
18 April, 2011 at 11:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

How do people perceive and construct their social area? What is the relationship of identity and possible courses of action to the European, national and ethnic orders? Eight ethnographical and discourse-analytical case studies examine these questions in regard to various perspectives of post socialist and post totalitarian identity processes.

Long Abstract

"People make places" - and in doing so, they allude to historical spaces, common memories and perceptions of identity and belonging. How people in post socialistic and post totalitarian societies construct their identities, which strategies they develop in dealing with the past and with this how they fall back on symbolic processes of inclusion and exclusion are the core issues of this panel. It brings nine case studies together that examine--to a great extent (but not exclusively)--Eastern and South-eastern European societies, groups and places with ethnographical and discourse-analytical approaches.

The papers from this panel go beyond just the political and economic answers to the questions of the rules and effects of post totalitarian transformation processes. Their focus is rather that of an ethnographical cultural analysis whose interest is especially valid for the everyday praxis and the meaning of symbolic action in the social field. They assume that the constructions of cultural and ethnic belonging as well as the perceptions and experiences of political borders and spaces constitute themselves in negotiation processes and gain significance in symbols and performative acts. Initially the focus of the investigations is the question of real or imaginary spaces and of the meaning of the "European" in the negotiation of national identities. The group of papers therefore deals with the handling of the past and the conflicting collective memories in the justification of contemporary social orders. Additional articles are devoted to contested places in post socialist and post colonial urban cultures as well as to the role of symbols and rituals for the communities' self-perception and perception by others. Last one case studies investigate and inquire about the meaning of the experience orientated stagings of a totalitarian history.

Accepted papers: