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ERA 2021
Space, Place, and Locus: mapping the new Europe

2-4th June

Online Conference

“We are at a moment, I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of
a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points
and interacts with its own skein”

M. Foucault

The recent experiences of the global pandemic and national lockdowns have forced us to slow down and scale down, but also to deviate from our routines and to rethink our mundane activities. We have become intimately acquainted with the private space of home while simultaneously detached from the public spaces of shared communal life. Inspired, rather than hindered, by these new circumstances, we invite young scholars and early-stage researchers to join ERA - a space of academic disruption where horizontal alliances are forged, hierarchies from the old world don’t matter, and new ideas are born. Before the pandemic, we fought for grants to attend prestigious conferences and events, we tried to outsmart each other and we competed against one another in a publish-or-perish environment. ERA is a project which aims to foster transnational cooperatives between early stage researchers and build bridges between  people, places, and institutions, instead of vying for grants, scholarships and publications. We want to bring a new approach to academia by creating an inclusive space of encounters and the starting point of conversations for our very first meeting is thus space, place and locus.  

Space and place are crucial categories of analysis when looking at our societies and their functioning, as noted by Michel Foucault who saw a deep connection between power, social order and space. Similarly, Doreen Massey observed the role of space in shaping gender relations, and vice versa, the way our gendered bodies shape the space around us. Many others, most notably David Harvey, Henri Lefebvre, and Edward Soja, noted the importance of space as a research category and its role in building social networks and inter-human relations. Thus there has been an epistemic shift labelled by some scholars as the spatial turn, where space, place, locale, and their impact on various fields of research has gained increased academic attention. Embracing this approach and recognising its usefulness, we invite early research academics to redraw with us a map of Europe. Consequently, we welcome papers on the topic of social, political, and cultural changes that have taken place in the broadly understood European space since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991. 

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We witnessed new players entering the global arena and new spaces that have emerged such as post-communist countries or new republics of ex-Yugoslavia.  We have seen the eastward expansion of the European Union and a great migration from the Global South to the Fortress Europe. New boundaries have been set as the old ones crumbled and we face new challenges today as the  rise of right-wing populism, the global pandemic and climate changes have an increasing impact on Europe and its inhabitants. Making use of the spatial turn in humanities, we want to investigate how these shifts and changes in Europe an space and beyond have impacted our understanding of the world; how our digital technologies are increasingly compressing timespace and bringing together seemingly distant and incompatible ideas, peoples, and objects. We want to bring into the conversation about culture, history, and media a new perspective, which would intersect across humanities, art, and social sciences to include the notions of space, place and site as important markers of our times. We want to contest the boundaries of what has been traditionally considered ‘Europe’ and thus we particularly look for researchers who work with spaces such as Eastern and Central Europe, the Caucasus, Turkey, Russia, the Nordic countries, or other places not otherwise belonging to the traditionally understood West European centre. We propose to shift the discourse from  

the centre towards the peripheries, and push the existing geographical, social, and historical boundaries in order to form new ways of mapping and interpreting Europe. 

We propose three panels over three days of our virtual event, with each day devoted to one the  following categories: Media, Literature, and History. 

The deadline for sending abstracts (up to 300 words) is 16th May 2021, midnight GMT.  

We seek papers that are intersectional, engaged on several levels of categories and cut across  traditional academic divisions, while also incorporating the notions of space/place. We  particularly encourage novel ways of presenting research such as short videos, workshops,  conversations, or artistic installations but welcome more traditional papers, too.


Some of the  proposed themes are: 

  • Loci of resistance and change: multi-nationality experience in Europe post-1989, 

  • Crossing borders: refugees and the refugee experience, in particular the LGBTQ+  refugee experience, 

  • Margins and centre: literature/culture/media in post-1989 Europe, 

  • Building bridges: decolonial option, post-colonial studies and neocolonialism in  postcommunist spaces, 

  • Collaborative practices: transregional and transnational modes of culture production,  dissemination and spectatorship in contemporary Europe, 

  • Global space and local sites: the impact of globalisation, digitalisation and capitalist  neoliberal policies on European culture & art since 1989, 

  • New Europe: cultural geographies, the Peaceful Revolution and eastern expansion of  European identity.

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