PERSPECTIVES IN HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES: HINTING AT INTERDISCIPLINARITY
4th Edition: Revolutions, the Archeology of Change
Iași, Romania, 26-27 May 2017
FRAMEWORK AND AIMS:
The primary sense of the word “revolution” (still active in its current semantic sphere) comes from the natural sciences; it refers to the continuous motion of a body on a closed curving path that brings it back to the point of departure. The political meaning (also used as a strong meaning) emerged in 16th and 17th-century Europe; it refers to a reaction that is oriented against a pre-established order, against a certain social and political status, aiming to produce fundamental mutations. Now disseminated in almost all domains of life, the term “revolution” generally designates just any radical change of paradigms, of values and rules, any consistent transformation that is meant to reshape and reorganize a field on new grounds, touching on both life and interpretation of reality as such.
Nevertheless, any attempt at giving a precise definition for this concept has to take into account the taxonomy of revolutions: social, scientific, cultural, industrial, technological, and so forth. Any of the aforementioned types resembles the others; any of them also keeps its specificity due to multiple features. Grasping the concept’s core is thus not easy at all. Consequently, from de Tocqueville and Marx to Kondratiev, Durkheim, Weber, Arendt, and Giddens, attempts to define the social revolution – and social change, in general – have summoned rather unyielding approaches and concepts: forces of production & relations of production; freedom/ liberties; social consciousness/ awareness; reform; leadership, and so forth. Besides, theories concerning revolution have generated new concepts such as revolutionary consciousness, revolutionary situation, permanent revolution (in the case of social revolutions) or, in Kuhn’s terms, normal science, extraordinary science, revolutionary science (paradigm).
Always associated with the idea of progress, always occurring as natural as the crises they originate in, revolutions should be understood primarily as historical phenomena. They are apt to break the course of evolution by ending a tradition and starting out a new one. National or not, visible or less visible, peaceful or violent, social, cultural, industrial or scientific, revolutions are made possible only by a climate that puts emphasis on both social groups and individuals, in terms of their innate abilities as well as in terms of their inherent way of conceiving social role. Among other things, revolutions share in common the sparkle of new paradigms, the short span of life, and the impact on thinking, (self)-perception, and on the ways of relating to fellow people and environment. Relating revolutions to historical periods is a must do, because the former are comparable to conversions. While assuming new ways of understanding, interpreting, and organizing the world, revolutions undertake to change values and goals.
2017: 100 years have passed since the Bolshevik Revolution, but also 368 years since the English Revolution, 329 years since the Glorious Revolution, 252 years since the American Revolution, 228 years since the French Revolution, 169 years since the 1848 Revolution, 68 years since the Chinese Revolution, and 28 years since the ‘89 (Romanian) Revolution. And there are so many others to add! In the same vein, one can ask how much time it took humankind to get used to some of its revolutionary inventions: the microscope (425 years), the steam engine (305 years), the light bulb (217 years), the telephone (141 years), the automobile (131 years), the plane (114 years), and the computer (69 years). Each and every region, state or nation preserves the memory of such events as a distinctive element of identity. But is there any connection between these “revolutionary” landmarks and our way of relating to them? When does a revolution start and where does it end? Is a revolution definable by its intentions (program) or rather by its results? Are there recurrent sequences in the dynamics of revolutions, or they are all only consequences of historical circumstances? What forces dispute the political power, and what resources are engaged in social mobilization? What social, political, and economic realities become the premises of social change, and how does the State react to political revolutions? What criteria serve us in judging whether a revolution has been successful?
These are just a few questions that illustrate the rich problematics encompassed by this phenomenon. Equally, it is of utmost importance to evaluate the concept’s tiredness because nowadays we have got used to naming “revolution” or “revolutionary” those reactions that, in the last resort, emanate from the individual rights/liberties pledged by the French Revolution.
Taking into account the complexity of the phenomenon and its frequent actualizations, we endeavor to explore the archeology of change from an interdisciplinary angle. The present theme invites various approaches, from history, sociology, psychology, political sciences, communication studies, and economics, to the theory of culture, literature, and arts.
Please find below a few guidelines for discussion. Papers can develop these topics or come up with new ways of addressing the theme:
Revolution – a safety valve for crisis
- Saturation of the scientific imaginary and emergence of new concepts
- Ideologies of change: revolutionary utopias/ dystopias
- Contagion and systemic risk – revolution and global systems
- The discourse of reformation – precariousness of safety exits and leadership crisis
- The reformist inflation: politician-ism and the politicization of life
- Revolutionary ideas in technology: innovation, dissemination, adaptation
The dynamics of revolutions
- Regimes of violence: revolutions on the barricade and velvet revolutions
- The mobilization of communities for innovating paradigms (actors, spectators, and directors in the theatre of revolution)
- The factory of genius and the revolution
- Revolution and evolution in culture (“break-down”, “shock”, “explosion”, “mutation”, “accident”, and other paradigms of change)
- Dissent and dissension – from the culture of dialogue to polemical approaches
- Paradigmatic changes in communication technologies (print, telegraph, telephone, television, the Internet etc.)
Effects and consequences of revolution
- New Order, Counter-revolution, and Restauration
- The continuous revolution “final victory” and “the end of history”
- Progress and long-term cycles: expansion, recession, and decline
- Esoteric elements, occultism, and tradition in the dynamics of scientific revolutions
- Theorizing upon the interval (transition, dissolution, and emergence of revolutionary alternatives)
- Remembering revolutions (commemorations, celebrations, contestations, reinterpretations)
Cultural revolution and revolutionary culture
- What spirits for the revolution? Religious spirit vs. civic spirit
- Revolution and mass media: broadcast revolutions, new media social movements
- The Internet and its challenges: linguistic revolution, cognitive revolution, and the “revolution of things”
- Archetypes of revolution (the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, the Velvet Revolution, the Islamic Spring, etc.)
- Revolution of language (production, permutation, intertextuality, negativity, multi-lingualism)
- Rhetoric of revolutionary programs (manifests, proclamations, propaganda, the literature of revolution)
- In service of a revolution: ideologies and aesthetics of the Enlightenment, Romanticism, Modernism, the Avant-gardes, Postmodernism, and Post-humanism
- New men and Newspeak. The tropes of revolution
- Nostalgia of revolutionary times in literature, arts, and mass media
LANGUAGES OF THE CONFERENCE: Romanian, English, French.
ABSTRACTS will be written in English, and they will not exceed 250 words. For further details, please see Abstract Submission.