research


How often do you hear a leader of a world power, a socialist one at that, say this? ‘It is time for philosophy to flourish’. The People’s Daily reports that Chairman Xi addressed a gathering leading philosophers and social scientists on 17 May.

President Xi Jinping held a rare, high-profile symposium on Tuesday on building up philosophy and the social sciences, marking Beijing’s latest effort to beef up its soft power and push for a larger say on the world stage.

He called for ‘more independent and innovative theories and ideas’ that will take root from China’s reality. ‘While China undergoes the most extensive and sophisticated social reform in its history,this is an era that needs theory and gives rise to theory, this is an era that needs thought and gives rise to thoughts’.

And you have to love this: he urged the scholars to follow the guidance of Marxism, to base their work on national conditions, and to draw on achievements from foreign countries and history.

 

In October, I am off to one of the great places in the world: Transylvania. It is for a conference in Baia Mare, but the experience is much more than merely a conference. If you can go, go. I’ll be talking on socialist theory and practices concerning nationalities, with China as a case study.

The International Conference of Cultural Studies

 “Multiculturalism and the Need for Recognition”

Baia Mare, 14-16 October, 2016

 

Baia Mare

Key note speakers:

Professor Roland Boer, Newcastle University, Australia

Professor Paul Cliteur, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Professor Otoiu Adrian, Tech Univ of Cluj-Napoca, North Univ Centre of Baia Mare, Romania

Mohandas K. Gandhi once said “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive”. This adage surely favours the ethics of multiculturalism placing the accent on the acceptance and integration of different cultures in a given society. And indeed, the basic objectives of multiculturalism have always been to assist cultural groups in retaining and fostering their identity, at the same time overcoming barriers to their full participation in society, to promote creative exchanges among all cultural groups, and to assist immigrants in coping with the inherent processes of cultural adaptation, mixing, and mélange.

In spite of all these, there are still voices which claim that multiculturalism does, in fact, undermine the main cultural identity of a state, endangering social unity and cohesion, and being a constant cause of conflict. Although there are voices which tend to emphasise the benefits of McLuhan’s “global village”, there are also pessimistic previsions which incline to the belief that the universe we now inhabit is nothing but a global dystopia in which various ethnic groups are engaged in asserting their need for recognition.

The idea that we are all in each other’s back yard is not so easily digestible. Not if we have in mind countries that see and understand the concept of nation in terms of ethnicity, placing the accent on the role of the ethnic group.

Presently there are countless voices that have expressed their reluctance and resistance against multiculturalism. The best example in this respect is the answer given by Central and Eastern Europe to the refugees’ crisis, an answer based exactly on the previously mentioned idea of the ethnic based national state.

The global pattern seems to have lost the contest, although there is still a lot of evidence which can testify to homogenization in global media, tourism and many other aspects of consumption. There is, nevertheless, plenty of evidence of the opposite, i.e. a constant, gradually increasing interest in ‘ethnic’ products and a need for recognition translated into a search for local authenticity.

Multiculturalism also makes reference to political correctness which can be easily translated into the efforts of previously marginalized groups to construct new identities, based on the questions of “Who am I?”, “What is my cultural heritage?”. The advocates of political correctness underline the necessity that the language employed in dealing with various ethnic groups be consistent with the principles of multiculturalism, thus avoiding stereotypes of all kinds, at the same time enhancing minorities’ self-esteem. However, there are voices which claim that political correctness and consequently multiculturalism threaten free speech, being contrary to reality and human nature.

In view of the already mentioned ideas, we invite scholars from all fields of research to explore issues related to the concepts of multiculturalism, globalization, glocalization, political correctness, politics of identity and their impact on our everyday life in the larger context of present day migrational movements.

The questions we invite you to answer are:

  • What are the lessons of multiculturalism?
  • To what degree can they be implemented?
  • Should the recent negative wave of reactions against multiculturalism mean something?
  • Are the ethnic based nations ready to be initiated in a multicultural spirit?
  • Is this tentative project of a multicultural Europe going to survive?
  • Are the former colonizers going to be colonized?
  • Can we erase the identity/alterity opposition or is it more prominent than ever?
  • Having in mind Milton Bennett’s six distinct kinds of experience spread across the continuum from ethnocentrism to ethnorelativism (denial, defense, minimization, acceptance, adaptation and integration) where would we situate ourselves?
  • Is politically correct language an imposition meant to distort reality and human nature or a way to protect cultural groups?

The organizers welcome papers in, yet not limited to, the following domains: science and technology, arts (literature, linguistics, theatre, visual arts, music) and sociology, politics, business and education, human rights and philosophy. The languages of the presentations might be Romanian, English, French and German.

Submit a 250-word abstract by May 1st, 2016 along with your professional details (name, title affiliation) to lect. dr. Tomoiaga Ligia (ligiatomoiaga@gmail.com) and lect. dr. Falaus Anamaria (anamariafelecan@gmail.com).

The time allotted to the presentation of a paper is 15 minutes, followed by 10-minute sessions of questions and answers.

For registration please visit our website:  http://litere.cunbm.utcluj.ro/multiculturalism/

Participation fee:

  • 40 Euros for international participants paying by 1 June 2016 and 50 Euros for the rest of them;
  • 100 lei for Romanian participants paying by 1 June 2016 and 150 lei for the others

Participation fee shall be paid to the account bellow, with the note:

“International Conference of Cultural Studies”

Beneficiary:
Technical University of Cluj Napoca – North University Centre of Baia Mare

Address:
62A Victor Babes Street, 430083 Baia Mare, Maramures, Romania
Fiscal code: 3825886
Bank: Banca Comerciala Romana
SWIFT: RNCBROBU
IBAN: RO 21 RNCB 0182 0341 4879 0026

The peer-reviewed papers of the conference are going to be published in a Cambridge Scholars Publishing volume.

For any additional information do not hesitate to contact us:

lect. dr. Tomoiaga Ligia (ligiatomoiaga@gmail.com)

lect. dr. Falaus Anamaria (anamariafelecan@gmail.com)

 

The burden of growing up in China. A youthful Mao reflects:

The study of how to be a citizen is the study of the history, geography, political doctrine, and artistic climate of one’s country … Certainly, the study of being a person or a citizen is easy, while the study of being a Chinese is difficult. There are five thousand years of history, the land extends over seven thousand li, political doctrine is extremely complex, and human feelings and customs are broad and complex. How can we approach all this? If we were Japan, with only three islands within our borders, or Germany, with a history of only half a century and land equivalent in size to our two provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong alone, how easy things would be! (Mao’s Road to Power, vol. 1, p. 79)

Mao might have his criticisms of useless scholarship and writing, but he also has some suggestions as to how one might write:

Articles should store up forces within. Emerging from Longmen, the Yellow River rushes all the way down to Tongguan. As it turns eastwards, it again rushes to Tongwa. Again it turns northeastwards and rushes to the sea. Once it comes out of hiding and changes its course, it goes for a thousand li without stopping. This is called a big turn. So it is with composition. (The Writings of Mao Zedong, vol. 1, p. 18)

To compose (zuo wen) well, we need to be skilfull, hence the use of the word ‘do’ (zuo); to write (xie), we need to wield the brush furiously, hence the use of the word ‘sketch’ (xie). (p. 19)

This is a place where you should publish at least one article: Memoria Ethnographica.

The journal is published at the North University Centre of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. It is based in Baia Mare, in the Maramures district of Transylvania (where I have been on a couple of occasions). Articles are published in both English and Romanian. The editor has made an urgent call for papers, especially by international authors. The twist: the due date is November 9.

So the call is: if you have a decent article that deals with anthropological and ethnographic matters, and if you can complete it by November 9, then the editor is interested. Contact me via comments and I will be able to identify your email address – that is, unless you know my email address already.

Go on, you can do it. These are the places where real work gets published, and the journal is published in one of the great parts of the world.

As a writer who happens to be connected with universities (for a pittance), the issue of publishing is somewhat important. I have also been involved extensively in major editing roles over the years, with both journals and books. A question that keeps coming up is where one should publish? I do not mean the best press for the sake of one’s career. I mean whether one uses conventional publishing at all. Perhaps the biggest threats to conventional publishing for profit are free access to books (such as library genesis) and open access publishing. I have commented on the free book matter earlier, when library.nu was closed down through court action by a consortium of publishers. And I have observed that publishing as an intellectual is probably one of the most exploitative exercises around, for you do all the work and receive virtually nothing for your efforts. Any profits made and retained by the publisher, let alone the copyright.

As many know, open access publishing is another dimension to that challenge. No wonder, then, that there is open warfare between traditional publishers and open-access publishing. Open-access is characterised as dodgy and third-rate. Example of scams abound, such as the Review of European Studies, which asks for a few hundred dollars to submit your article. Universities also play the game, or rather an old game. In the past, they have shored up publishing by constructing an aura of respectability around certain ‘reputable’ publishers, whether commercial or university presses. Positions rely on publishing in such places, as does the obnoxious practice of promotion, as do research assessment exercises, as do grants. Open-access publishing continues to be frowned upon by many. I recall a left-wing scholar saying to me that he always found material in print by traditional publishers much better than open-access work. But then, I guess that figures if you are after a conventional career in the star system of academia. It’s refreshing, then, to view once again the Hitler video concerning open-access:

So what would it mean to say that you will no longer publish in, review for, or do anything to assist profit-based publishing. That you will give your energy only to open-access publishing? The question is as much one for me, since I have published and continue to publish widely in conventional forms. So it was sobering to read through some of the journals listed in the Directory of Open-Access Journals. A vast number of them are from places in the world where money is very tight, where people can hardly manage rent and food, let alone journals and books. Of course, we like to forget the fact that genuinely new ideas always appear outside the mainstream avenues of intellectual work and publishing. A few of those include Spinoza, Negri, Darwin, Descartes, Leibniz, Rousseau, Kojeve, Schweitzer, Guattari, Lacan, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Mao …

Just completed a PhD? If so, you are probably completely sick and tired of the whole process. The last thing you want to do is engage in further research, since the PhD thesis was like scaling a Mt. Everest of information, ideas, and directions. Who would want to do that again in the near future?

So take a tip from a film director, whose name escapes me: after a first blockbuster, make your second film quickly. There’s plenty of ideas in your head, many of which could not make it into a PhD. You have done the reading and thinking. So write that second book quickly. Six months is all it needs, for a sharp, short book.

Why? That way you realise it doesn’t take another massive effort to complete a writing project. By the time you have finished, new ideas will be forming, further books planned.

Too often I meet people who peaked with a PhD. It may have been a solid, perhaps even influential work that made it into a book. Then they fiddle, become distracted, think of a second book that would surpass the PhD and make a huge splash. A year, two years, a decade flows by, with no result. Some bury themselves in teaching, others are seduced by administrative positions and the associated crumbs of power. By now the chance is gone, and what may appear is a strangled effort, squeezed out between short nights and the petty political games of overblown egos.

Forget all that crap. Get your head down and write the second book, quickly.

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