Courses and Workshops

Ovidiu Țichindeleanu, IDEA arts+society (Cluj, România) – What is Decoloniality? An East European Introduction to Decolonial Thought

The 2017 edition of the Telciu Summer School builds on the experience of the previous editions by situating from the outset the discussion about rurality, modernities, and the politics of well-being on a background that privileges the direct encounter between differing histories and “subaltern” or “peripheral” positions with a determined take on oppression and enslavement, development and dependency, as well as well-being and noncapitalist economies of sustainability. Decolonial thought oriented the discussion about “global designs and local histories” in Telciu and the course will consequently offer an introduction in decolonial thought conceived as an effort to situate ourselves in the problem, rather than speaking about the problem. This course takes advantage of Telciu’s position as an experiment in pedagogy by investing in radical claims and rejecting the tendency of neutralizing thought. The introductory course proposes a common vocabulary, material and historical references over a contested territory, asking questions about the historical and political positionalities of “Eastern Europe”, “East-Europeans”, “Romanians” and rural Transylvanians, both in the long-durée relation to capitalism and coloniality, as well as in relation to the more recent period of the postcommunist transition.

Madina Tlostanova, Linköping University (Linköping, Suedia) – The postcolonial/postsocialist condition and the decolonial option

The course will address different interpretations of the postsocialist human condition – from the end of history discourse, situating the ex-second world in the void, to the postcolonial and decolonial readings, and post-dependence models. We will focus on the imperial difference as a key marker of the postsocialist experience and reflect on the specific futureless ontology of those who share this local history. We will also tackle the postsocialst subjectivity, spatiality, and temporality, unfolding their own categories and specific notions, that need to be further conceptualized, particularly in the present conditions of the global revival of nationalist, fundamentalist, and conservative discourses as a reaction to neoliberal globalization. The Socialist modernity will be regarded as a separate kind of modernity, intersecting with but also diverting from the capitalist one. The course will analyze the postsocialist futureless ontology and ways of its overcoming, using the material of contemporary activist art and cinema, in the changing cultural and political reality of the postsocialist world on the verge of its imminent division and reorientation.

Manuela Boatcă, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität, (Freiburg, Germany) – Forgotten Europes: Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

Official EU discourse foregrounds continental Europe to the detriment of all other territories – most of which are former colonies – that are part of European countries, but are geographically located in other continents. In the process, it links Europeanness to a narrowly defined physical location which excludes both the memory and the present of Europe’s colonial ties to other regions. At the same time, Europe‘s remaining colonies in the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and South America are graphically represented as part of the European Union in official maps, yet play no part in the definition of either the normative European ideal or the corresponding common identity. In a first step, the course offers a framework for conceiving of these multiple layers of Europeanness as a hierarchy of multiple and unequal Europes that ranges from heroic to decadent to epigonal in terms of the role attributed to each in the achievement of modernity. In a second step, the course focuses on the EU’s overseas territories as “forgotten Europe” – territories that are literally “off the chart” in terms of Europe’s self-representation and modernity’s checklist, yet “on the map” in terms of the claims laid to them by continental European states. Finally, the course focuses on how the Caribbean colonies within forgotten Europe offer a prime vantage point for upending the dominant representation of Europe and understanding the coloniality of memory in today’s public discourse of Europeanness.

Cornel Ban, Boston University (Boston, USA) – Room for Change: Funding dignified livelihoods in Eastern Europe

How can one found solutions for a dignified socio-economic life in the rural communities of the Global South? The past decade has brought to the fore the structural limits of conventional liberal solutions such as rural branches of commercial banks, microcredit and remittances. On the other side of the spectrum, state-led development models such as China have delivered impressive financial support for breakneck urban growth but scant financing for rural communities. Indeed, the emerging conventional wisdom is that the village is an obsolete socio-economic formation that has no chances to survive the urbanization steamroller. I will argue that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, not an argument. Village communities stand a chance as long as they are integrated in national and international development strategies that can prevent demographic, social, health and employment challenges faced by rural communities by delivering the right kind of financing for rural development. Just like governments once rushed to provide public support to pro-cyclical and deregulated financial sectors whose maintenance is propped in effect by public subsidies that cost societies dear, it is now time that they provide regulatory and financial support for the establishment of bank cooperatives, community savings trusts, public social and economic development banks and other forms of banking that do not fit the conventional private banking and the shareholder value logic that comes with it.

Julia Roth, Center for Inter-American Studies of Bielefeld University (Bielefeld, Germany) – Rappin’ Feminism Otherwise” – Hip Hop and Counter-Hegemonic Knowledge Production

Feminist knowledge is usually associated with the so-called ‚Global North’ (or ‚West’) and in the academy. The concept of intersectionality to address interlocking axes of oppression for instance is a seemingly academic discourse. The workshop critically approaches this scenario from to angels: Firstly, we trace the originally activist and non-hegemonic roots of what would today be termed ‘intersectional’ feminist critique, and, secondly, we take a look at non-academic forms such as hip hop of knowledge production. Artistic practices like hip hop reach beyond tight academic circles and also make voices from marginalized spaces such as the Caribbean that have traditionally not been associated with ‘valid’ feminist knowledge.

The workshop discusses feminist interventions that have changed the geopolitics of white Eurocentric (and US-centric) feminist knowledge. Following Angela Davis’ claim of the important contribution of the early blues women as role models for black working-class women and Patricia Hill Collins’ take on hip hop feminism as the current non-academic field of contribution of black feminist ideas, we discuss precursors of intersectional and decolonial feminisms like the Blues women, Cuban trovadoras or hip hop artists, including videos of their performances, focusing particularly on the role of hip hop for the Afro-Cuban feminist and anti-racist movement, but also for interventions from other locations. The workshop closes with discussing possibilities of imagining feminism otherwise, beyond Eurocentrism through counter-hegemonic non-academic, non-central, and non-urban practices.

Anne Tittor, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena (Jena, Germany) – Negotiating Identities and Land Rights in Film Colonial Continuities & Land Use Conflicts in Rural Nicaragua

Zoltán Rostás, Universitatea București (București, România) – Recounted Life. Oral History and the Rural World

Natalia Picaroni Sobrado & Cristobal García Toledo, Austrian Academy of Sciences (Vienna, Austria) Santiago (Chile) – About weeds, roots and sprouts: young people, audiovisual technologies and the unintended effects of engaging in rural life in Chiloé

As a Latin American migrant who managed to study Anthropology in Austria and eventually got the opportunity to conduct long term research back home, I (Natalia) was seriously concerned about the benefit/prejudice of my work. At the same time, I was wandering on how to put into practice the decolonial, poscolonial and critical approaches and theories I was familiar with. I designed my doctoral project so that, while in the field, I could carry out tasks assigned to me by the “researched”, in this case the health team of a Williche community in rural Chiloé (southern Chile).

Totally unexpected to me, I was asked to work with the teenagers. Since I had noticed a fascination for technology – back then, in 2010, mainly television and video games – along with a passive use of it, I brought all my research devices to our first meeting. My broad idea was to share these tools with the kids promoting a creative use. They liked the idea and we began to meet every weekend with the challenge of expressing ourselves. We named this group/space Weche Folil (Young Roots). I completed my doctoral program many years ago, though Weche Folil has continued and has received support of several artists and professionals.

This workshop aim is to show the film Meli Tripantu: about weeds, roots and spouts” (20 minutes) in which the group learn how to make a documentary film by making one about the group itself. The film resulted in a self-reflexive exercise which highlights key moments of the first four years of working together. It turned out to be an exercise on thinking from the periphery of young people’s rural lifeworlds in Chiloé. We also aim to discuss some of our key thoughts about the enriching and complex endeavor of collectively construct alternatives to the ways things are.

Bogdan Iancu & Monica Stroe, Muzeul Național al Țăranului Român/Școala Națională de Științe Politice și Administrative (București, România) – Peasants, the Agriculture and Subsidies: Promises and Impasses.

In the last decade, after the integration of Romania into the EU, agricultural subsidies have become a very important income source for Romanian rural households. As the European Union directs its agricultural system towards post-production within durable development discourses, the roles that the agricultural policies assign to small-scale farmers create sources of tension and misunderstandings in the absence of explicit guidance from the authorities.

The exigencies of the agricultural and environmental subsidy system promoted by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) require adaptation efforts by peasants employed in semi-subsistence farming. The governance of semi-subsistence farms is a challenge for the EU, which resorts to ” an intricate system of farmers’ registration, audits, regulations” (Mincyte 2011). Their lives are projected in a moral and economic horizon that designates them as the custodians of nature rather than as food producers. In this way, the farmer is “tailored into a Fordist system” and lowered to the position of “passive receiver of the imposed generic sets of rules” (van der Ploeg 2008). The legitimacy and continuity of some traditional uses of land and natural resources are radically reconfigured by the normative discourse, especially in the so-called “ecosystem services” stimulated by agri-environment payments. Transformed in forms of internalized discipline (Dunn 2008), subsidy standards have privileged Western knowledge and expertise while largely ignoring the local sets of knowledge.

Starting from a series of ethnographic examples, Bogdan Iancu and Monica Stroe will investigate the institutional practices that govern the subsidy policies on the one hand, on the other, they will analyze the local and dynamic understandings that have a transformative impact produced by the agro-environmental payments upon farming practices and the property relation of the lands. The presentation will analyze the effects of the subsidy schemes not only as supports and “opportunities” but also as “barriers” (Dunn 2008) or forms of short-circuiting local practices.

In the last decade, after the integration of Romania into the EU, agricultural subsidies have become a very important income source for Romanian rural households. As the European Union directs its agricultural system towards post-production within durable development discourses, the roles that the agricultural policies assign to small-scale farmers create sources of tension and misunderstandings in the absence of explicit guidance from the authorities.

The exigencies of the agricultural and environmental subsidy system promoted by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) require adaptation efforts by peasants employed in semi-subsistence farming. The governance of semi-subsistence farms is a challenge for the EU, which resorts to ” an intricate system of farmers’ registration, audits, regulations” (Mincyte 2011). Their lives are projected in a moral and economic horizon that designates them as the custodians of nature rather than as food producers. In this way, the farmer is “tailored into a Fordist system” and lowered to the position of “passive receiver of the imposed generic sets of rules” (van der Ploeg 2008). The legitimacy and continuity of some traditional uses of land and natural resources are radically reconfigured by the normative discourse, especially in the so-called “ecosystem services” stimulated by agri-environment payments. Transformed in forms of internalized discipline (Dunn 2008), subsidy standards have privileged Western knowledge and expertise while largely ignoring the local sets of knowledge.

Starting from a series of ethnographic examples, Bogdan Iancu and Monica Stroe will investigate the institutional practices that govern the subsidy policies on the one hand, on the other, they will analyze the local and dynamic understandings that have a transformative impact produced by the agro-environmental payments upon farming practices and the property relation of the lands. The presentation will analyze the effects of the subsidy schemes not only as supports and “opportunities” but also as “barriers” (Dunn 2008) or forms of short-circuiting local practices.

In the last decade, after the integration of Romania into the EU, agricultural subsidies have become a very important income source for Romanian rural households. As the European Union directs its agricultural system towards post-production within durable development discourses, the roles that the agricultural policies assign to small-scale farmers create sources of tension and misunderstandings in the absence of explicit guidance from the authorities.

The exigencies of the agricultural and environmental subsidy system promoted by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) require adaptation efforts by peasants employed in semi-subsistence farming. The governance of semi-subsistence farms is a challenge for the EU, which resorts to ” an intricate system of farmers’ registration, audits, regulations” (Mincyte 2011). Their lives are projected in a moral and economic horizon that designates them as the custodians of nature rather than as food producers. In this way, the farmer is “tailored into a Fordist system” and lowered to the position of “passive receiver of the imposed generic sets of rules” (van der Ploeg 2008). The legitimacy and continuity of some traditional uses of land and natural resources are radically reconfigured by the normative discourse, especially in the so-called “ecosystem services” stimulated by agri-environment payments. Transformed in forms of internalized discipline (Dunn 2008), subsidy standards have privileged Western knowledge and expertise while largely ignoring the local sets of knowledge.

Starting from a series of ethnographic examples, Bogdan Iancu and Monica Stroe will investigate the institutional practices that govern the subsidy policies on the one hand, on the other, they will analyze the local and dynamic understandings that have a transformative impact produced by the agro-environmental payments upon farming practices and the property relation of the lands. The presentation will analyze the effects of the subsidy schemes not only as supports and “opportunities” but also as “barriers” (Dunn 2008) or forms of short-circuiting local practices.

Vasile Ionescu, Institutul pentru diversitate media/Romanothan (Iași, România) – Roma and the Critique of Primitive Rationality

In reality, everything can be reduced to the observation that the Roma continue to have no real and equal public identity (citizenship, respectively ethnic identity), but that they are present in the underground of every European culture, “in brief, every nation, every people, every country has its own failures” (Caragiale). Therefore, the Gypsy/Roma is neither the Near (the Same/the Identical), with whom the com-Union and the civic and religious com-Unity can be constituted, nor the Other (the Alien), who is put in quarantine, with the right to plead in front of the local community about the utilities and benefits their social crediting, their communitarian inclusion can bring. The Gypsy does not have a community identity, because they do not enter into the schemes of interdependence of spatial and mental solidarity, their state – when arrogant, when humble (of former slave, former servant, even former poor) – is equivocal of someone who is defeated but dreams themselves the winner, even though “the willow is not a fruit tree nor is the Gypsy human” (Romanian rhyme). They are not the stranger, but the strange, not the enemy but not a friend, not primitive/barbarian, nor civilized, they do not inspire love, nor hate, but indifference, they enter the discussion only to leave it! Presumably to have rather a secret agenda, not a public one, with claims that reclaim in resentment a new social contract, which would delegitimize the custom and the status quo to become equal among equals (affiliation, conversion, undifferentiated inclusion) or to beg or to scrounge something, the minimum, because “the Gypsy is Gypsy even on Easter day!”

The stereotype, the dehumanizing meaning of the radical formulation, “the Gypsy is human from afar” contains not only racism, as a popular ideology of denying the recognition of the dignity of a human being, but also the institutionalized practice of discrimination, as un-inclusion or social exclusion (ghettoization). On the other hand, the closure in itself of the Roma culture does not follow the deracialization and decolonization dialectic of the Jewish and the African-Americans, with whom the Romania Roma share trans-racial and historical similarities (Holocaust, slavery). The Roma stay far from ideas of mobilization, solidarity and the institutionalization of ethnic-identity of the Jewish enlightenment (Haskala) or the Renaissance of the African-American ghettos (Harlem Renaissance), although lawfully recognized as national/ethnic minorities and subject to some national and European public political redistribution, such as positive discrimination through which the state proposes to balance out the previous negative discrimination. Despite the good intentions asserted by both sides the situation of Romanian Roma in Europe has become a humanitarian catastrophe.

The fact of being “the invisible human” or the “human from afar” to live anonymously because society negates your existence, through racism and indifference – as Ralph Elisson defines it in his celebrated book (1952) the Kafkaesque and Musilesque condition of the former slave, as the “Man without Qualities” (identity), “Underground Man”, in which the ghetto is a “Penal Colony”, in a continuous and hypocritical “process of civilisation” through an endless and rhetorical inclusion masking the exclusion – it presents the example of the special social status of the human condition of the Romanian Roma (Gypsy).

Vitalie Sprânceană, Platzforma (Chișinău, Moldova) – Living in the West, in the Centre and in the East … Without Leaving the Native Village: A Personal History

I was born in a village that was part of a country. Several years after my birth, that country dissipated and split intro several smaller countries. One of them has become my new country. The old country thought of itself as a country-world, and its inhabitants were living their lives as inhabitants-world. The new country perceives itself only as part of a world (which one?), but its inhabitants have left it and went into the world… The village exists now merely as a history or as a communication on social networking sites…

My class will explore topics such as political geography, the geographical imaginary and the imagined geographies in a Moldovan village.

Veda Popovici, Gazeta de Artă Politică (București, România) – History is Written Elsewhere. Coloniality, the Romania of Eastern Europe and the Future of Solidarity

If the 1989 Revolution is the archetype of political events that followed, its interpretation establishes the norm of our political subjectivity. In other words, we are the children of the Revolution. But which Revolution? Recent political events show us that we are the children of a recuperative “Revolution”, the mission of which is to assure that we gain upon the West. The workshop “History is Written Elsewhere” explores that through the multiple interpretations of the 1989 Revolution as a foundational political event, some ideas remained dominant over time and influenced what we understand today through protests, mobilization and a radical critique of the contemporary politics. We will outline together ways through which to break with the infantilization process projected through coloniality and to understand the social changes beyond become as rich, civilized, white and powerful as the West.

David Schwartz, Macaz –Teatru, Bar Coop. (București, România) – Representations of the Transition in the Romania Theatre after 2007

The beginnings of the period of „transition” from the socialist to the capitalist system are marked by the brutal transformation of the economy (the privatizing of the industry, of housing and land, the inflation of western commodities) and the progressive inclusion of Romania in the Euro-Atlantic sphere of economic, political and military influence. These material transformations were accompanied by an abrupt and radical change of the public discourse, that had as main components: the definition of the western political, economic and cultural model as the „natural” form of social organization, thus not only desirable, but also inevitable; and the anti-communist discourse, with the dismissal of all leftist ideas, as well as any positive traits of the socialist period. The present seminar aims at discussing the representation and understanding of these processes and transformations in a series of theater shows that were staged in the last ten years.