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Bielefeld Graduate School

in History and Sociology

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Workshops and conferences 2012

National, regional and local identity/ies in media and music:
Evidence from Europe and Russia (7-8 Dec. 2012)

Organisers: Chiara Pierobon and Verena Molitor

In cooperation with: BGHS, Bielefeld University, Center of European and German Studies (Bielefeld University and St. Petersburg State University, Russia) and St. Petersburg State University

The workshop aims at bringing together Doctoral and Post-Doctoral researchers from the field of sociology, history, linguistics and literature, media and communication studies, political science etc. interested in the studies of the complex relationship existing between national, regional and local identity/ies and media/music in Europe and Russia. The participants will present contributions addressing the following questions:

  • How do media and music take part in the production and dissemination of local/regional/national identity/ies?
  • What kinds of "imaginary geography" are constructed and what kind of national ideologies and mythologizing narratives are widespread through media and music?
  • How are these media embedded in social structures and in (transnational) cultural dynamics? What is their relationship to institutions and power and which technological and financial means do they have at their disposal?
  • Which methods can be employed and which are the methodological challenges faced by researchers of this topic?

Ambivalent playful musical practices in the middle ages and early modern times, 1200-1800 (18-19 Oct. 2012)

Interdisciplinary Workshop


Organisers: Julia Breittruck, Philip Knäble

Luther's chamber music, the court masquerades of Louis XIV, processions and mystery plays in late medieval towns, musical theatre and opera or Brueghel's wedding dance are all famous examples of musical practices in European pre-modern times. However, there are a multitude of lesser known musical practices, particularly in the connection between music and play. By moving beyond existing conceptions of musical practices, this workshop has aimed to incorporate the study of hitherto neglected and under studied practices. By doing so, the workshop focused on peripheral practices, through which different and unexplored sounds can be investigated. This has brought delimitations such as of the sacred and the profane, or "the animal" and "the human" to the fore.
The first panel explored the church as an institution where playful practices seem unexpected. The second panel looked into the inclusion and exclusion of animals in practices formerly regarded as purely human. By comparing liturgical singing with animal voices and with historical experimentations on animal sounds in bird keeping, we worked on broadening the concept of music. To this end, the third panel gave the opportunity to discuss a new field of study: the nuances of sound, voices and noise. The scope of the workshop was to grasp the numerous playful music practices in their border zones with an interdisciplinary approach in order to generate fresh approaches to the cultural history of pre-modernity.

Bielefeld University
Internationales Begegnugszentrum (IBZ)

Entwicklungsrhetoriken (18-19 Sept. 2012) (Rhetorics in development)

Organisers: Luise Stein, Katharina Pohl

The workshop dealt with the question by which concepts the international development policies have been influenced and in how far these concepts may have changed. Based on that, it was discussed to what extend the use of these concepts influenced the perception of the "donor" and the "taker" countries. The participants presented research work on development aid from (Western) countries in Africa within the time from 1918 up to now. This timeframe allowed to integrate (late) colonial development projects, modernisation theories from the 1960s and 1970s and current rhetorics appearing to be contradictory like "equal partnership" and "aid dependency" as well.

Culture, Society and Memory: The Challenges of Historical and Sociological Research on Russia, Germany and the US (12-14 May 2012)

Organisers: BGHS, Semion Lyandres, Stephan Merl, Andreas Vasilache, Dietmar Wulff, Tatjana Zimenkova

In cooperation with: Department of History (Bielefeld University), Department of History (University of Notre Dame, USA), Center of European and German Studies (Bielefeld University and St. Petersburg State University, Russia), European University St. Petersburg, Russia

Guests: Anna Amelina (Bielefeld University), Patrick Griffin (University of Notre Dame), Boris Kolonitskii (European University St. Petersburg)

Rapid developments of societies in the edge of globalisation, glocalisation and transformation pose new conceptual challenges for scholars in history, sociology and other social sciences. Do comparative approaches become necessary in historical and sociological research? Are comparisons still possible in the absence of enclosed academic, cultural, political and societal settings? Do such developments affect historical and sociological research in the same manner and to the same degree? Does the study of culture, societies and memory become interdisciplinary? Doctoral researchers from Russia, the United States and Germany will discuss these and related questions and problems during this interdisciplinary workshop. The workshop is part of a close cooperation between the institutions mentioned. The first was held in 2010 in Bielefeld, the second in 2011 in South Bend, and the Fourth Interdisciplinary Workshop will take place in spring 2013 again at Notre Dame University.


The City: Analyzing Contemporary Transformations and Structures (09 - 10 Mar. 2012)

Organiser: Anna-Lisa Müller
Guest: Dr. Catharina Thörn, University of Gothenburg (keynote speaker)

This workshop brought the social scientist's perspective on contemporary urban transformations and structures into focus. What are the specific challenges for inhabitants, city planners, but also for us as researchers? What is life like in (post)modern cities, how can these cities be characterised? What kind of relation exists between cities and the societies they are embedded in?
The workshop thus focussed on urban transformations and urban structures. Several questions then come up: What are recent developments and transformations of cities? How can we adequately analyse and analytically formulate contemporary urban phenomena? In what respect do cities possess features that are specific for the late 20th and beginning 21st century, i.e. what are typical structures? What kind of social transformations influence the character of cities and in how far do cities in turn influence social developments? In what respect can cities be understood as specific physical-spatial structures resulting of (social) developments?
Therefore, we worked on adequate theoretical frameworks for urban transformations and structures and their thorough empirical analysis. Additionally, the workshop asked for methodological reflections on adequate forms of researching these developments.

Programme of the workshop

Populäre Musik und Gesellschaft im 20. Jahrhundert (16-17 Feb. 2012) (Popular Music and Society in the 20th century)

Organisation: Linda Braun and Klaus Nathaus

The interdisciplinary workshop brought together historians, sociologists and a musicologist who discussed current research topics on popular music in Germany, France, Great Britain, Jamaica, the US and the Soviet Union. The spectrum of topics discussed included a historical research on emotion regarding popular music, the formation of "World Music" as a genre and the development of the music economy in Jamaica. Finally, aspects of authenticity and the heuristic value of the genre concept have been made up.

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