REPORTS

Title:Summer Session in Slavske (July 2012)
Description:
The 2012 summer session has been devoted mainly to the interrelation of culture and power in history. The goal was to locate culture, its resources, institutions and actors at the center of power relations, to show how a culture operates to produce and maintain various forms of hegemonic political and social power. A seminar held by M. Janowski about dilemmas and challenges in historical studies of the legitimization of power provided a sort of the general introduction to this major theme of our session. A number of seminars have addressed more specific issues offering multiple perspectives to study and teaching a cultural history of power. In his second seminar M. Janowski focused on ideological and political meanings of architecture in modern East-central Europe. Alexei Miller has proposed to approach royal rituals in modern East European history as invented traditions and analyze from this specific point of view their symbolic potential for the cultural legitimization of modern monarchies. The several seminars have highlighted how the emergence of new projects of culture and cultural hegemony were part of the wider process of the rise of new powerful modern ideologies like communism or socialism. Jutta Scherer has offered two interesting talks and discussions of how the cultural ideologues of the early Soviet regime designed and developed new visions of culture and were engaged in building up the new cultural apparatus of the Communist hegemony. At the seminar by Andriy Zaiarniuk the discussion has focused on the close interconnections that emerged during the first half of the 19th century between the origin of social sciences and new forms of cultural critique on the one side, and the invention of the idea of the "social" and mass political activism on the other.
 
During our discussions we have been constantly reminded that the culture cannot be reduced to the forms and mechanisms of cultural hegemony only. Instead, a culture also can be approached as a symbolic space which is open for the contest and struggle between various historical actors, and which provides possibilities for the empowerment of the oppressed and weak. This issue has been brought forward by Andriy Zaiarniuk in his second talk and subsequent discussion about the political culture of Lviv's railways workers in early twentieth century. Also I. Zazuliak has stressed the multiple symbolic meanings of violence in lords-peasants relationships in early modern Poland-Lithuania.
 
The discussion on the interrelation of power and culture in history was pursued further by focusing on the formation of confessional identities in East-Central Europe during early modern and modern times. The special attention was paid to the following problem: how resources of culture and various types of cultural institutions were used to forge confessional identities, to maintain or to cross the established confessional boundaries. Martina Steer has familiarized the participants with the analytical concept of the confessionalization and discussed in detail the case of the European Judaism in order to show the limits and possibilities of its applicability. Maria Falina has brought some insights on the old and new uses of comparative methods in historical studies of religion modern Eastern Europe. By taking the case of "Letters from Heaven" Andriy Zaiarniuk has underlined the problem of the instability and appropriation of religious texts, symbols and artifacts in various cultural contexts. In his discussion of the origin, dissemination and iconographic program of the Carpathian Icons of Last Judgment J.-P. Himka has demonstrated the balance between tradition and innovation in the cultural and confessional life of the pre-modern Ukrainian Eastern Christianity. The intersections and convergences between the confessional and national identities in the 19th century Galicia have been discussed at the seminar held by Ostap Sereda.
 
In addition some seminars have brought our discussions to the scholarly fields and problems which laid beyond the immediate grasp of the two major themes of the session. Ph. Ther has analyzed the cultural implications of the transformations in the post-communist Eastern Europe. A. Miller have introduced the participants to the new research project on the historical concepts of the Russian Empire, which has been recently finished under his supervision. J. P. Himka has invited the participants to ponder upon the role of film in the representations of historical events.
 
Similar to the summer session of 2011 we continued to hold some discussions in the round table format. They proved to be quite helpful with regard to stimulating more active engagement of the project participants into a discussion on some key issues of historiography and cultural history. Every project participants had to act as contributor for at least two round tables, and to review in advance texts suggested by a faculty member. Finally, three smaller thematic groups working on the mega-syllabus had several opportunities to present results of their collaboration and discuss further plans for work during their informal meetings.



Added Files:
Session program