[MaFLa] Call for Papers: "The Unbearable Charm of Frailty. Philosophizing in/on Eastern Europe."

prblum at t-online.de prblum at t-online.de
Thu May 8 14:07:58 CEST 2008

Call for Papers: "The Unbearable Charm of Frailty. Philosophizing in/on
Eastern Europe." 


A Special Issue of  "ANGELAKI - The Journal of the Theoretical




Guest Editor: Costica Bradatan (The Honors College, Texas Tech


ANGELAKI hereby invites contributions on the topic of "Philosophizing
in/on Eastern Europe." 


This special issue is scheduled for late 2009.





Over the last several years European Union has welcomed a number of new
member countries, most of which used to belong to the "Eastern bloc."
While, thanks to the influence of mass-media, tourism, immigration,
etc., Western Europe has come to acquire some general geographic
knowledge about these countries, relatively little is known about what
happens there in terms of production of knowledge and cultural
artifacts, in terms of intellectual debates and marketplace of ideas.
Although all of them are now part of the same "European family," there
is comparatively little knowledge in the countries of the Western Europe
about the cultural physiognomy of the East-European newcomers. 


The intellectual traffic between East and West within Europe seems to be
most often one-way traffic: it is as if ideas and intelligence can only
move eastwards, as though from East westwards almost nothing
(intellectually valid) is to be expected or desired. As such, the face
of the "new Europe" that the West most often sees is that of "le
plombier polonais." 


The originality of thinkers such as Slavoj Zizek, Julia Kristeva,
Tzvetan Todorov, Jan Patocka, Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran or Leszek
Kolakowski, who have at different times made a significant contribution
to the shaping of the Western intellectual discourse, is somehow taken
for granted, and the character of the world they have come from is
passed over in silence. These people come from nowhere - out of nothing.
No significant attention is being paid to their complex backgrounds, to
the specificity of  their cultural origins, to the unique blend of
intellectual challenges and ethical concerns that shaped their thinking,
strengthened their personalities and, in the end, made them who they


The special issue we are proposing addresses precisely this situation in
an attempt to bridge this gap of intellectual communication between
Eastern and Western Europe. Its plan is to map out the complex
intellectual landscape, the major intellectual debates and their
historical origins, as well as the current marketplace of philosophical
ideas in the countries of the Eastern Europe. This issue aims at
offering insights into the recent (or not so recent) history of "the
East-European mind" and its many facets, as well as into what takes
place philosophically right now in these places. It also seeks to point
to the specific contributions that East-European thinkers might have to
the shaping of a new, more comprehensive European intellectual project. 


More importantly, this special issue will pay special attention to what
connects these countries, giving them as it does a certain "family
resemblance." One important thing that these East-European newcomers to
the EU have in common - despite their many cultural, linguistic,
political and social differences - is the fact that all of them shared,
not long ago, the same historical failure: the failure of the Communist
project of Soviet inspiration. Whether you are in Prague or Budapest,
Riga or Bucharest, Sofia or Warsaw, you cannot help noticing the traces
of this major historical event: they are everywhere, in the public
discourse as well as in the private conversations, in the ways people
articulate their thoughts, in the language itself. For people living in
Eastern Europe simple words such as "freedom," "human rights,"
"Communism," "capitalism," "left" and "right," "poverty" and
"inequality" mean something different from what they do for someone who
has been living in Western Europe. Much of what happens intellectually
and philosophically in these places is deeply marked by the haunting
memory of this historical failure of grand proportions, with its
accompanying sense of immense collective suffering, frustration and


That being said, it might be precisely this failure, frustration and
bitterness, that place the East-Europeans - somehow paradoxically - in a
philosophically interesting and potentially creative position. It is
exactly the point that Václav Havel made in a speech in 1990. For him,
the failed Soviet system left behind "a legacy of countless dead, an
infinite spectrum of human suffering, profound economic decline, and
above all enormous human humiliation. [...] At the same time, however
unintentionally, ... it has given us something positive: a special
capacity to look, from time to time, somewhat further than someone who
has not undergone this bitter experience. A person who cannot move and
live a normal life because he is pinned under a boulder has more time to
think about his hopes than someone who is not trapped in this way. [...]
We too can offer something to you: our experience and the knowledge that
has come from it." 


The philosophizing that takes place in Eastern Europe is highly relevant
today not only because it has gained some privileged access to the
topics of historical failure and frailty, collective suffering and
trauma, but also because it comes to bear a special relationship with
the notions of hope and political renewal, ethical openness and the
reinvention of the human. 


We invite submissions dealing with the history and the current state of
philosophy and the philosophically minded disciplines in the countries
of the Eastern Europe, some aspects of which have been pointed to above.
Interdisciplinary approaches (combining, for example, philosophy,
critical theory and intellectual history) are particularly encouraged. 


Here are only some of the possible topics: 


-          (Philosophical) texts in/and their (cultural) contexts 


-          Lost in translation 


-          The traffic of philosophical ideas between Eastern & Western


-          Centrality and marginality in the European philosophical


-          Canon(s) and canonization in the European philosophical


-          Specifically East-European philosophical topics 


-          Making philosophical sense of (disastrous) historical


-          The (quite) bearable lightness of being East-European 


-          (Eastern) Europe as a laboratory of ideas 


-          Genealogies, contaminations & disseminations of ideas


-          Philosophy and politics in Eastern Europe (before and after
the collapse of Communism)  


-          Philosophy & civil society in Eastern Europe


-          The tragic (East-European) fate of some (Western)
philosophical ideas


-          The European project, philosophically speaking 


Paul Richard Blum
Dept. of Philosophy
Loyola College in Maryland
4501 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21210
Tel. 410-617-2815

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