Civil Society in the Humanities Community?
Call for Essays for the Seminar (Kiev, Ukraine, April 4-6, 2014)
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, higher education and research was roiled by rapid changes, including the rise of independent initiatives. New institutions and new media opened opportunities, especially for young scholars. Waves of innovative ideas, analytical approaches, and practices streamed into Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine from the west.
Today we can take stock of the changes since 1991. Which new institutions, media, and intellectual trends have had the greatest impact on higher education and research? Was the impact positive or negative? Which of those journals, associations, and informal groups remain important today? What is the status of international communication among scholarly communities in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine? What are the points of intersection between the civil society of humanists and the public sphere of NGOs and media? How should the two civil spheres influence one another? How do young scholars assess today’s landscape of informal associations? Are there new “new initiatives”?
Independent initiatives in the humanities are a key concern of MAG and “The Bridge-MOCT” MAG was founded by peer reviewers of an independent initiative of research grants (the Humanities Program in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine). “The Bridge-MOCT” serves as an informal, horizontal forum of communication across borders, across disciplines, and across scholarly generations.
Call for essays
The seminar welcomes MAG members, readers of “The Bridge-MOCT”, and anyone interested in the seminar themes to apply for an invitation. To apply, please send a five-page essay on one of the seminar themes to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Deadline for essays is December 10, 2013. Essay writers selected by the organizing committee will each receive a prize of $200 and funding for regional travel to the seminar. Young scholars are especially encouraged to submit essays.
1. New institutions and new media. Describe the role played by a specific new initiative in post-Soviet scholarship – an institution, a university program, an informal association, a journal, a bulletin, etc. Why was it formed? What needs, what audiences did it seek to address? Was the impact local or felt beyond the community in which it arose? How did it change over time? What are its prospects? The initiative can be local and irregular, for example, a methodological seminar with a senior professor organized by doctoral students, or an association for Kant studies, phenomenology, etc. The only criteria are that it be organized from below as an alternative to vertical-hierarchical, institutional structures.
2. New intellectual trends. Innovations can be mere fashions that come and go. They can also initiate changes that endure. Describe one of the many new ideas and approaches – oral history, studies of religion, gender and women’s studies, postmodernism and post-colonialism, etc., that has influenced the quality and substance of research. Was the influence productive or did it reach a dead end? Did it lead to cooperation between researchers and the public sphere – NGOs, media, and opinion makers?