The 14th Konitsa Summer School teaching and fieldwork activities
The 14th Konitsa Summer School offers a full academic programme with an emphasis on theoretical, epistemological and methodological issues in Sociocultural Anthropology. The course "Ethnographic Research in Border Areas" is the core course, which explores the borders, border crossings and boundary construction processes in SE Europe.
Moreover, the School’s programme includes courses discussing the current political and economic conditions in SE Europe. The relationship between data gathering and data analysis and the writing of ethnography are discussed as intellectual, methodological and epistemological tools for the conduct of the fieldwork practice. A special ethnographic focus on environmental history and cultural ecology which explores issues related to the border area complements a rich and advanced curriculum.
The participants have a chance to conduct short fieldwork projects in three Balkan countries, participate in the BCN’s publication series, actively engage in local issues, and become acquainted with the border area. Various lecturers join their forces to teach providing an international aura and enhancing the School’s interdisciplinary character.
22 – 25/7
1. New trends in economic anthropology
2. Post-socialism in Bulgaria: a very short introduction
3. Environmental history and cultural ecology of the Mediterranean and the Balkans. The case of Pindus and the adjacent borderlands
4. Doing fieldwork: theory, method and the production of anthropological knowledge
Ethnographic Research in Border Areas
|5. Fieldwork exercise in Albania, Greece and the F.Y. Republic of Macedonia for all participants
(the participation in it is obligatory and a prerequisite for the certificate of attendance)
|Preparation for the presentation of the fieldwork exercise results|
Presentation of the fieldwork exercise results
*See the attached documents of the course description and the daily plan below
Prof James Carrier
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany
Department of Anthropology, Indiana University, USA
LECTURE: Moral economic anthropology
Michel-Rolph Trouillot argued that anthropology filled the Savage Slot in Western thought. That Slot began to disappear around the middle of the twentieth century, the discipline began to lose its legitimacy, and interest in Western thought turned increasingly to what Joel Robbins called the Suffering Slot. The discipline followed suit, increasingly casting itself as the moral voice of the Suffering downtrodden. As a result, economic anthropology, like most of anthropology, became moral and political in a way that it had not been previously. This change has significant costs. In particular, it induces anthropologists to see Suffering in many places, encourages them to attend to the Suffering and ʽgive voiceʼ to them, and to ignore other people and other situations. The result is a picture of the world that is partial. That partiality makes it more likely that we will construe a world that conforms to our sensibilities and so makes them seem natural and self-evident, what Bourdieu called misrecognition, the naturalisation of the arbitrary. This has unfortunate consequences, both for those who want to understand the world and for those who want to change it.
This is to explain the organisation of the workshop and an important concept.
The workshop will start with a welcome and an introductory talk. After this, attendees at the workshop will be divided into groups and each group will be asked to spend 10 minutes discussing one of the assigned readings, and preparing a brief answer to one of the questions on that reading.
After the 10 minute preparation period, each group in turn will have five minutes to lay out their answers and thoughts to the wider workshop. Five minutes is not much time, so you’ll need to be concise and focus on your main points. This approach will ensure that we get to cover all the readings and questions, and that everyone gets the opportunity to contribute to the workshop. Practice in doing this sort of presentation is one of the purposes of this workshop.
Some of the questions for each reading refer to ‘abstraction’. I use that word to mean taking some thing, activity or person out of the context in which it normally exists and placing it in another context. So, a man I know who worked for the British Museum went to a village in Papua New Guinea and bought things that people made, like shields and bags. He took them back to the Museum and put them in an exhibition. Physically, then, he took things out of the village context in which they existed and put them in a new context in the Museum.
This physical abstraction often goes together with another type of abstraction that is important for these readings. That is mental abstraction, something that we all do every day. Mental abstraction occurs when someone looks at a thing, person or activity from a perspective that is different from the perspective of those who are normally involved with it. This could involve a thing that people are making, the people doing the work or the activity of the making.
Those people view themselves and what they are doing in their own way, the conceptual context in which they and their activity normally exists. Those villagers look at a shield in terms of how well it identifies the person who carries it and how well it blocks arrows and spears. To look at things from a different perspective means mentally abstracting the thing from its normal context and placing it in a new one. The Museum man looks at a shield in terms of changing shield design and how it would add to the exhibition, which are very different from the way that villagers view it.
An important thing to remember is that abstracting things in this way means seeing them from a distinct perspective, and from that perspective certain things about them become less important or even invisible, while other things become more important.
An excursion to the Greek-Albanian border area will take place on Friday, 26th of July as an introduction of the participants into the border landscape, proximity and its function as well as to its people and its history.
July and August are months in which many social events, religious celebrations and public feasts, that include traditional music and dancing, take place in the town of Konitsa and the surrounding area.
These occasions are great opportunities for the participants to get more familiar with the area and its people, know each other, socialize and get entertained. As every year, we will attend as many as possible.