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МАГ/The International Association for the Humanities     ЖУРНАЛ МЕЖДУНАРОДНОЙ АССОЦИАЦИИ ГУМАНИТАРИЕВ | Volume 5, Issue 1 (34), 2016.

Colloquium Vilnense: Creating a space for interdisciplinary academic discussion in Vilnius

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“Виленский коллоквиум” – новый проект, организованный Центром немецких исследований и историческим факультетом Европейского Гуманитарного университета (белорусский “университет в изгнании,” Вильнюс). Цель проекта – интердисциплинарное обсуждение прошлого, настоящего и будущего беларусско-литовско-польского региона, и шире – Центральной и Восточной Европы. В рамках проекта пройдут различные мероприятия, включая семинары и публичные лекции, посвященные политике памяти, региональным мемориальным практикам. Среди партнеров “Виленского коллоквиума”: департамент музеологии и департамент коммуникации Вильнюсского университета, Лаборатория критики урбанизма ЕГУ, Институт истории Литвы и Laimikis.lt: “an interdisciplinary platform for community art, urban research and activism”. Подробнее о проекте мы попросили рассказать его руководителя – Феликса Аккермана.

Colloquium Vilnense: Creating a space for interdisciplinary academic discussion in Vilnius

Colloquium Vilnense is a new space for shared interdisciplinary discussion on issues related to the past, present, and future of the region. In 2012 it focused on cities as shared and contested spaces. We invited colleagues from Belarus, Lithuania, Germany, Poland and Ukraine to European Humanities University for a weekly Monday colloquium to develop a deeper understanding of the theoretical framework of our work on the production of urban spaces. It discusses recent research projects and gives feedback to those working on them. The colloquium explicitly provides a forum for scholars from different disciplinary backgrounds, cultures and generations.

In 2013 Colloquiums Vilnense focuses is on memory which is understood as the sum of communication processes, that result in contextually shared interpretations of the past, through which contemporary meanings and representations are constructed. Instead of focusing on the material outcomes, special emphasis is placed on the process of negotiating, communicating and mediating different interpretations. Thus, at the heart of the concept lies the idea that concrete actors deal with specific aspects of what is perceived to be memory and communicate their positions to a broader public. We critically asses assumptions of large collectives sharing a fixed set of beliefs, ideas and finally memories.

In 2012 the urban studies focus started with a philosophical discussion input by Olga Shparaga (EHU / Minsk) of the term community and its possible use to describe situational communicative links among diverse individuals, which unite under certain circumstances in order to defend their interests. From this rather philosophical starting point we moved onward and applied this to the production of urban space itself. Siarhej Liubimau (EHU Vilnius) argued that it is possible to intervene and interact with such communities in the framework of critical urbanism. Kajta Lavrinies (Vilnius) brought into the various practices of a more proactive and long term Elena Trubina (Ekaterinburg) highlighted the importance of festival in the post-industrial production mode of urban spaces on the example of mega events in the Russian federation. Stsiapan Stureika (EHU / Hrodna) applied the community concept to the Belarusian context analyzing the state run Dazhynki business, a yearly reoccurring harvest celebration in smaller peripheral towns. Among other issues we discussed furthermore a broad range of urban examples as WWII in Baranavichi (Alexander Brakel), pogroms in XIX Lithuania (Darius Staliunas), the Symbolic Appropriation of East Prussian Cities after 1945 (Vasilius Safranovas) and the problems Vilnius based nightclubs (Karolis Klimka).

A special strength of the colloquium might be the ability to bring together recent Lithuanian discussions, Belarusian and Polish examples with some discourses relevant beyond this local and regional context. This is e.g. the case with the application of the community concept to issues of urban heritage protection. E.g. in the case of Snipiskes and Novy Svet – wooden districts of Vilnius and Hrodna undergoing a sharp transformation – local urban constellations are understood as spaces of negotiation of heritage. And similarly museums in Lithuania and Belarus as layed out by Peter van Mensch (Amsterdam) and Christian Ganzer (Kiev) are understood as spaces, which are produced by the negotiation of contested heritage. In both cases during the discussion we came back to the very starting point of the colloquium – the idea of communities organizing themselves and stating their own needs as public issues.

The colloquium will continue to discuss these questions and invites scholars from different disciplines to take part. In 2014 it is planed to address the link between academic networks, labour migration and the digitalisation of the humanities, in order to update our own understanding of the conditions, under which knowledge production takes place in the earlier 21st century. Therefore, our aim is to combine different approaches from history of science, science studies, sociology, gender studies, philosophy, anthropology and migration studies.

Dr. Felix Ackermann, Visiting DAAD Associate Professor of Applied Humanities, European Humanities University (Vilnius)

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