University of St Gallen (HSG), in cooperation with the University of Neuchâtel (UniNE), Switzerland
“Samo vjeran pas?”
Workshop on Post-Yugoslav Neoliberal Academic Selves and Possibilities of Knowing the Balkans Otherwise
5.2.2020 – 7.2.2020 HSG
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What are the features and the politics of knowledge production about the Balkans in contemporary academia? Are the Western Balkans a testing ground for Western intellectual hegemony? If so, how and why do we, as post-Yugoslav scholars, reproduce these dominant forms of knowledge, however inadvertently? How does the contemporary neoliberal academy foster the self-colonization and (re-)balkanization as a career strategy? Can we disrupt the uneven power geometries in which we ourselves partake? What are the ways by which to know the Balkans otherwise?
The dissolution of former Yugoslavia – as one of the particularly dramatic chapters of the implosion of real-socialism – served as an unprecedented impetus for knowledge production.
The newly emerging Yugoslav republics soon turned into the object of vibrant research by scholars who, by and large from Central and Western Europe and the U.S., aimed at understanding the causes and consequences of conflicts, the processes of “transition”, religious revitalization, reconciliation, gender regimes, (forced) migration, and a number of other issues. In the years to follow, new protagonists are emerging together with the newly reorganized Balkan region. They embody different biographical configurations of im/mobility, which include decades of labour- and chain migration, as well as forced migration brought about the Yugoslav Succession Wars. At the same time, established and emerging scholars who stayed in the region produced knowledge under totalitarian conditions, which hindered transnational networks and mobility. In the course of developing critical (anti-nationalist, anti-totalitarian, feminist etc.) social science perspectives, these differently positioned scholars forged cooperation under global conditions of consolidating neoliberal academia. The increasing competition, precarity, marketization of ideas, concepts, and academic selves led to the bizarre result that it was/is precisely “profitable” to produce knowledge on former Yugoslavia as an “indigenous” (migrant) scholar already “equipped” with the core language and “cultural” competence non-native scholars have to invest significant time and effort to acquire. This, at times, created a paradoxical result of auto-balkanization in ways that perpetuated the myths and failed to offer a truly emancipatory project.
Detailed program and further infos: PROGRAM