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)

 

A new article of mine is up at Philosophers for Change: The ‘Failure’ of Communism.

Update: I am told that this article has taken off somewhat, with more than 1,000 ‘likes’ on the facebook page for Philosophers for Change.

Finally processing some photos from Romania, especially of some of the people I met:

2012 October 122 (Romania)a

 

 

2012 October 116 (Romania)a

 

IMG_8818b

 

IMG_8770a

 

IMG_8765a

 

And yes, it seems as though Jesus does really live in Romania:

2012 October 102 (Romania)a

Two weeks of perpetual motion thus far: Beijing, along the Chang Jiang (‘Yangtze’) for three days, Wuhan, Frankfurt and then all night (unplanned) on trains and stations in the Romanian countryside, Baia Mare in Transylvania, and then more trains to Berlin. A few preliminary images; reflections later.

Heartwarming to see Lenin posters about. There should be more, many more.

I guess you can really do this only in China.

But now it gets a little more interesting:

For this is none other than the bed of the younger Mao and his wife – when they lived in Wuhan. So this is, as I observed when we were ushered in, where it happened.

Couldn’t resist sharing the same space … until I was sternly reprimanded by the staff.

I really must get a sign like this for home.

But then, after 60 hours of travel, most of it on multiple trains, I was in Romania.

I spent some time hanging out with the locals in Transylvania, in the mountains and villages.

From the old woman’s house, we stumbled across the local distillery.

That small mug was full of Palincă, plum brandy. He handed it to me and said ‘drink up’ …

Which is probably why I agreed to wear some local winter gear.

Thankfully, I was not alone in enjoying such delights.

As some of you may know, I have recently spent a week in Transylvania with some of the best hosts in the world. It began in Bucharest, from where I took the ‘express’ to Baia Mare, the second last stop on the route.

‘Express’ meant it stopped at every second station, and in between it rolled along at a very leisurely pace – absolutely the best way to travel. 14 hours it took, for 690km:

Once in Transylvania (Maramureş to be exact) I enjoyed the mating rituals of the locals:

Was intrigued by the burial practices:

Was drawn to diabolically spicy Reformed churches:

And even more alluring Orthodox churches in the villages:

I even went to a rock concert:

But what really intrigued me was the fact that students and professors have different toilets – the professors a type of unisex arrangement:

Throughout this time, I kept being offered clear liquid in plastic bottles, which I naturally thought was water. Ţuică is its name, I was told, although I couldn’t figure out why it was served in small earthenware vessels and had a rather fiery taste. Which is probably why I thought this was the main road home:

By the time I realised I had been swilling the 60% proof plum-brandy, the locals were ready to celebrate my departure with gay abandon:

Can’t wait to return …

Is Reformed theology spicy?

Given that one of the Romanian words for ‘spicy’ is ‘diabolic’ – as I found with the diabolical pasta I ate on my last night there;

Given that the main source of such spicy food is the sizable Hungarian (Magyar) population in Transylvania;

Given that the religion of these Magyars is Reformed (Calvinist) Christianity;

One can only conclude that Reformed theology is indeed diabolically spicy.

That’s in the far north-west of Romania, part of Transylvania. And this was taken at first light in one of the villages: