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European Regional Master's Degree in Democracy and Human Rights in South East Europe
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Trust and Distrust in the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union, 1956-1991

Conference venue: London, United Kingdom
Period: July 4-5, 2013
Deadline for submitting full papers: Sept 15, 2012

Description of the Conference

Dictatorships like the Soviet state and authoritarian regimes like post-war European socialist societies needed trust as a crucial resource for social integration and the stability of the political order. The goal is to analyse establishment, functioning, stability and vitality of political regimes and societies in the Soviet Bloc through the terms, concepts and meanings of trust and distrust. The hypothesis is that authoritarian societies in Europe also had their own “habitus of trust” and developed their own “culture of trust”; the purpose is speak about the establishment of socialist cultures of trust based on a mixture of pre-modern and modern forms of trust and distrust analyzing the promotion of modern forms of institutionalized trust that offered more normative coherence and stability to the social order and the production of personified, pre-modern form of trust, generated through leader cults and by creating broad categories of friends and enemies.
The starting point is the process of desalinization in 1956, promoting trust led to the “normalization” of everyday life and stabilization of communist regimes in Europe. This normalization developed from the intensification of political communication as a space of negotiation—between people and state, the individual and the system—over the possibilities and limits of collaboration, tolerance and coexistence under a socialist dictatorship.
The workshop will contribute to the development of a cultural history of trust and distrust that can shed new light on several important issues, like the stability and acceptance of authoritarian regimes, processes of social integration and disintegration, practices of inclusion and exclusion and finally mobilising individual and collective actions.

Eligible topics for the conference

Tentative panels and topics are:

1. Methodological paths and interdisciplinary approaches to the history of trust/distrust from:
    -Historical anthropology, ethnography and visual studies
    -Political and social science
    -Psychology and psychiatry
    -Philosophy and pedagogy

2. Regimes of trust and distrust:
   -National traditions and legacies, ideological and scientific roots of trust/distrust
   -State monopolies on producing and distributing trust/distrust
   -Scientific roots of trust/distrust (psychiatry, psychology, pedagogy etc.)
   -Trust as state honor, distrust as dishonor: giving, withdrawing, restoring trust
   -Performative rituals, symbols, myths of trust (elections, demonstrations, assemblies) and creating communities of trust/distrust
   -Propaganda in making friends and enemies
   -Emotional bonds between people and state

3. Institutions of trust and distrust:
    -Heads of state and party leaders
    -Communist party and party members
    -State institutions (the courts, the army, the police, etc.)
    -Education and teaching trust (schools and mass organizations)
    -Security organs (KGB, Stasi, etc.)
    -Prisons and psychiatric hospitals

4. Public/private spheres, political/apolitical questions:
   -Faces of public trust: physicians, schoolteachers, university professors, clergy, factory managers etc.
   -Topography of trust/distrust: communal apartments, workplaces, pubs, smoking rooms, the marketplace, the queue etc.
   -Private faces of trust: family, kinship, friendship, neighbourhood etc.

5. Mass media and building trust/distrust:
   -Scandals, rumors and trust/distrust of the public
   -Radio, television, newspapers and their audience(s)
   -Idols, celebrities, pop-culture heroes as objects of trust/distrust
   -Letter-writing to mass media as a trust building practice

6. Socialist citizens: subjectivity between normality and deviance:
   -Individual experience, memory and resources of trust/distrust
   -Morality, loyalty, obedience
   -Marginal groups, ethnic, sexual and religious minorities
   -Hooligans and alternative (a)social groups

7. Consumerism, the market, money: informal practices and unwritten rules:
   -Practices of blat, corruption and bribery
   -Uses of money
   -Socialist goods and services
   -Luxury, leisure and free time activities

8. At the boundary of trust and distrust:
   -Domestic violence
   -Major mental illnesses and neuroses
   -Terrorist attacks and hostage-taking
   -Natural and man-made catastrophes

Guidelines for submission

Please email abstracts to Trust-Conference as the subject).
The abstract should include your full name, email address, affiliation, the title of your paper, a short description of your presentation (no more than 500 words) and a very short CV that includes only major publications.

Deadline for the submission of abstracts:  15 September 2012. The organization will inform you of the selection of participants by 30 October 2012.

Those invited to present a paper should submit an electronic version of the paper by 1 June 2013. The paper should be no longer than 6,000-8,000 words. The papers will be pre-circulated. At the colloquium each participant will have 15 minutes to outline the main points. For each panel, commentary on each paper and then discussion will follow the presentations. After the workshop authors are expected to revise their papers for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

We are applying for financial support. Should we be successful, we will reimburse your travel expenses up to 200 £ and accommodation expenses up to 3 nights in London. Please, could you inform us if your institute can cover your travel and accommodation costs.


Information & contacts

Dr Alexey Tikhomirov, SSEES, UCL

address: Gower Street,London,  WC1E 6BT,United Kingdom


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