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The legacies of nationalistic ideologies: challenging the epistemological rules of ethnological knowledge production after 1945 [SIEF Working Group on Historical Approaches in Cultural Analysis] 
Lauri Turpeinen (University of Helsinki)
Konrad Kuhn (University of Innsbruck)
Hanna Snellman (University of Helsinki)
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Knowledge Production
Panel Roundtable
Tuesday 22 June, 14:00-15:45 (UTC+3)

Short Abstract:

The epistemic rules of nationalistic knowledge production have shaped ethnology and folklore studies since their earliest days. These epistemic rules remained influential also after 1945. We invite papers exploring this lingering dark heritage of the ethnological disciplines.

Long Abstract

The ideologies of national romanticism are the soil from which the ethnological disciplines of Europe grew. Hence, it is unsurprising that the academic institutionalization of ethnology and folklore studies as independent disciplines fell into a historical context in which in many European countries the search for cultural origins, theories about alleged continuous cultural links reaching deep into antiquity, and the glorification of peasants as representatives of a reputedly uncorrupted national culture were hegemonic ideals.

Especially the "Wiener Schule" emerged as a transnational influence on research on such "continuities" in early ethnological thinking. Henceforth, European ethnologists and folklorists were involved in processes of knowledge production, which aimed rather at creating putative scientific validations of such beliefs than enabling their critical examination. This complicity with nationalistic ideologies found its deplorable climax in the close cooperation of ethnologists with the NS-regime during the Second World War.

The end of the war should provide an opportunity to critically reflect the epistemological "rules" underlining ethnological research. Effectively, some critical discussions occurred for example in the German and Nordic contexts, which resulted in name-changes. Still, we argue that despite such rather cosmetic measures the "rules" of nationalistic ideology and knowledge production remained influential also after 1945.

This panel presents papers on the knowledge history of the ethnological disciplines and its power asymmetries and epistemic conflicts after 1945. We invite ethnologists and folklorists of all national backgrounds to discuss the lingering dark heritage of our ideology-driven disciplines in case studies, thus illuminating their long-lasting difficult legacy.

Accepted contributions: