The Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH) proudly announces the results of its first Public Call for Funding Research Proposals to be pursued in the year 2016.
The research proposals that will be funded by RCH are the following (in alphabetical order under the surname of the applicant and presented according to the funding category):
– Nikolaos Dimakis: «The Archaeology of Child Death: children burials in Classical and Hellenistic Attica»
According to documentary sources burial customs in ancient Greece were considered sine qua non for the normal transition of the soul to the Underworld. Texts however are rather quiet about child death and the treatment children received in death and burial. Burial evidence from Classical and Hellenistic Greece suggests that society was not untouched when a child died. In Athens and Attica in particular child burials are rather numerous while some seem to stand out. Traditional archaeological approaches to child burials tended to interpret the treatment of children in death as being particularly revealing for their social and economic role in society. More recent studies focused on more symbolic issues such as memory, sentiment, movement and the degree of parental involvement. Indeed, the death of a child is rather dramatic as it is surrounded by sentiments evolved from early loss.
In this project the aforementioned models are brought together on the basis of burial evidence from Classical and Hellenistic Attica in order to a) reconstruct as far as possible the funeral ritual associated with child death, b) investigate the impact of child loss to Classical and Hellenistic society, c) examine the association, if there was any, between sentiment and the child’s identity and status, and d) explore how this association might have changed from the Classical to the Hellenistic period in cemeteries located in various parts of Attica. Even though the available bibliography on attic child burials is limited, a search through past investigations is far too valuable for Classical archaeologists to disregard. The first step is to assemble the evidence in MS Access data base by area in order to allow for a regional analysis. The latter will operate into two levels: a) Athens and b) Attica. A comparative analysis with children burials found in other places (Argos, Corinth, Astypalaia, Abdera, Olynthus) will then follow. Maps of the Greek Army’s Geographical Service, Google Earth, groundplans and in situ investigation will be employed to pin down individual child burials, clusters of child burials, their location in relation to adult, male and female burials, and in the natural, religious and urban landscape. A contextual analysis will then follow. Burial offerings, burial rites and rituals, grave forms will be questioned within their sociopolitical and economic context as well as religious beliefs. Ancient sources and modern sociological, anthropological and ethnographic studies will supplement my study.
A thematic approach on children burials in Attica will contribute to our understanding of the way children were treated in death in the Classical and Hellenistic periods. The comparative and contextual analysis adopted will allow for an engagement with status, gender, age, health and ultimately death of the children, and with variations in social, political, economic, local and interregional circumstances, religious beliefs and practices, as well as emotions and changing family structures.
– Anna Maria Droumpouki: «Repairing the Past: Holocaust Restitution in Greece»
The Holocaust was both the greatest mass murder and the greatest theft in history, an unprecedented financial crime. The revival of Jewish Communities in Europe was fundamental, and German reparations were the only way to achieve this. However, in Greece, there has been a long-drawn-out and unsatisfactory process of receiving compensation from the Federal Republic of Germany. The reparations process was a complex and multifaceted one. The purpose of this research is to explain the Holocaust restitution movement in Greece as a legal story and a human drama, its long-delayed genesis, its small successes and its big failures. There is a whole emerging restitution saga the last years in Greece and a campaign that has become a major political issue concerning the german reparations, but we fail as a society to discuss the Holocaust restitution issue, with the exception of Nazi cold, that has acquired mythical dimensions. As reparations are part of the history of twentieth-century politics, and that proves that memory matters politically, my aim is to research the impact of German reparations on the rehabilitation of Jewish life, Greek Jewish communities and Jewish cultural activities during the generation that followed the Holocaust.
– Menelaos-Dimitrios Kountouras: «Music and poetry of the trobadours at the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonike after 1204»
The Fourth Crusade and the fall of Constantinople to the crusaders’ armies in 1204 is well-known to the specialists and a wide public. On the contrary, very little is known about the activity of a group of trobadours who followed the crusaders’ leaders to Byzantium. In particular, our knowledge of the cultural activities on the lands of the former Byzantine Empire under the rule of the Latins remains extremely limited and obscure. The trobadours Raimbaut de Vaqueiras and Elias Cairel, as well as the trouvere Conon de Béthune resided in Constantinople and the Latin Kingdom of Thessalonike, spending some of their creative years there. The two trobadours followed Boniface of Monferrat to Thessalonike and spent some years in the city. During those years they composed quality music and poetry that survives a neglected, yet valuable primary source with a particular historical and philological value for contemporary scholars. It is my intention to trace these works produced by the Latins during their sojourn in Thessalonike, to transcribe (from manuscript), translate and analyse them as well as to transcribe the musical pieces into modern notation. In addition to these, I intend to try and trace more trobadours that might have had a connection to the Latin Kingdom of Thessaloniki and investigate the cultural background and possible cultural exchanges between Greek and Western musicians-composers. The project will be concluded with the writing and publishing in Greek and in English of a treatise on the subject that will include the actual works, the historical and cultural background as well as an evaluation the trobadours’ contribution within its historical context. A CD of the musical works performed will be part of the published work.
– Leandros Kyriakopoulos: «Performing Euphoric Cosmopolitanism: Public Space and Nomadism in Electronic Dance Music Culture»
During summers, the European continent vibrates with festivals of all kinds of art and music genres. Such a tradition builds up on a strong genealogy traced back to the movements of the 1960s and their desire for a utopia, even a temporary one, of an alternative aesthetic and affective community. Electronic Dance Music Culture (EDMC) festivals are prominent within this map of European events precisely because they embody a powerful cultural imagination of traveling and nomadism, aesthetic difference and individual transcendence. EDM techno-culture attracts people to participate in its nomadic routes and phantasmagoric practices, in ways that are akin to ‘alternative’ or ‘other’ ways of life. This fact coincides with the aesthetic and affective over-determination of the EDM event due to the audio-visual technologies and chemical-drug consumption of the participants (especially MDMA and LSD).
This research draws on the extensive fieldwork I have conducted for my Ph.D. thesis concerning Psychedelic Trance (psytrance) festivals – a music genre that belongs to EDMC. More specifically, it is based on a years-long ethnographic research of traveling practices and carnivalesque recreation, in the rave fashion, as performed by my Greek informants. Festivals and parties in Greece, Hungary, Morocco and the Netherlands have been sites I visited in order to follow my informants’ imagination for discovering the world and liberating the self through euphoric nomadism and phantasmagoric experiences. Hence, I wish to expand questions regarding EDMC by incorporating contemporary literature on affect, citizenship and cosmopolitanism, to examine the relationship between urban nomadism and recreational practices as a performative production of an aestheticized public space. Namely, I wish to ponder on the questions of how public space is performed, how borderline is defined and how it is inhabited in terms of aesthetic inclusion.
Thus, what I imply is that the euphoric mobility in transient remote ‘dream worlds’, which has gained great popularity after the turn of the 21st century, is the paradigmatic indication of techno-aesthetic forms of cosmopolitan belonging, cross-border engagement and contemporary affective conceptions of citizenship. Contrary to most academic literature that read in the EDM event a ‘liminal experience’ and a ‘heterotopic’ setup – a supposedly evidence of the possibility for an out-of-the-ordinary or utopian site against the everyday normativity – I propose to investigate nomadism and aesthetics as cultural effects of the quest of utopia in modernity; and the EDM event as a product made possible due to the value that recreation practices and self-discovery and experimentation hold within the post-1960s era.
– Petros Petridis: «Digital Labor, Theorycraft and Databases in Massively Multiplayer Online Games»
The proposed research is an ethnographic study of MMOGs (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) in the Greek context. Although MMOGs constitute a popular field of academic study (with dedicated journals such as Game Studies), much anthropological research is either preoccupied with identity play (the alternative representation of self in respect to gender, ethnicity, age, etc.), or takes the form of holistic ethnographies (a chapter for the concept of identity, a chapter for the concept of community, a chapter for the concept of economy etc.). Theoretically, discussion has been limited to the debate between narratologists and ludologists (game studies), where the former approach exclusively focuses on the narratological elements of games (the scenario of a game, gamers’ discourse), while the latter examines only the rules, the programming code and game applications. Furthermore, and in spite of the fact that gaming is an extremely popular and ever growing social practice in Greece –even during “crisis”- the procedures through which MMOGs are culturally translated in the context of local realities remains a highly unexplored area, both in the international and in the Greek bibliography. Thus, the practice of online gaming is usually represented through oversimplified and problematic public rhetoric (media, cybercrime unit, law, medical discourse) and seen as identical to digital gambling (law 3037/2002), or treated as the cornerstone of the controversial Internet Addiction Syndrome. In the context of that rhetoric, gaming is regarded as an anti-social and anti-productive set of behaviors. Needless to say, gamers’ own discourse on their practice is completely absent from these representations.
The proposed research has as its starting point the hypothesis that MMOGs have been so successful in the cultural/creative industry and among gamers due to the fact that they are experienced by social actors, not as a waste of time, but, to the contrary, as productive and creative tasks. Specifically, the proposed research seeks to illuminate three main –and underestimated- aspects of online gaming, from the perspective of Greek MMOGs communities. A) What new kinds of digital economic practices and forms of labor emerge in relation to these virtual worlds, through techniques such as crowdsourcing, machinima, beta testing etc.? B) How is theorycraft (a systematic theory which is produced by gamers and aims at the production of rules, behavioral patterns, equations, mathematical types, graphical representations, spreadsheets, strategies, tactics etc.) articulated and how does it reshape the experience of gaming? C) How is the subjectivity of the gamer constructed through the logic of the database? Theoretically, the research aims to synthesize the narratological and the ludological approach by placing emphasis both on gamers’ discourse and other narrative frames, as well as on the technical elements (game mechanics, theorycraft, databases and applications) of MMOGs. Through this synthesis, MMOGs cultures can be seen as technosocial assemblages that are consisted by humans and technologies. Methodologically, I propose a digital multilocal ethnography which is not restricted to gameworlds, but encompasses other crucial –for gamers-digital and geographical environments.
– Nikos Potamianos: «The carnival of Athens, 1800-1940. Popular culture, bourgeois culture, hegemony»
Carnival is a multifaceted cultural phenomenon in the context of which entertainment and sociability are combined with social and political critique and ritual reversal. It constitutes, consequently, a privileged area of interest for the social historian. The carnival of Athens has not yet been studied scientifically. The objective of my research is to interpret the significant transformations it underwent during the 19th and 20th centuries. In order to do so, I intend to focus on the changing relationship between popular and bourgeois culture.
The culture of the elite was the first to be transformed. Since 1834, the Court and the upper middle class started introducing key aspects of the Western elite carnival culture such as elegant suits and disguises, European music and dances, bal masqué etc. By the end of the 19th century, this imported bourgeois carnival culture had become completely dominant in the middle class and spread to the lower strata. Popular culture was changing, too, under the impact of both urbanization and new bourgeois culture. Masks and costumes, new spectacles and masquerades focusing on current political issues replaced the older rural pagan practices. In the end of the 19th century, a hegemonic assault on the carnival from the modernizing middle class tried to transform the street carnival culture and to accelerate the “civilization process”, particularly by introducing a parade in the central streets of Athens. Despite some resistance, which has to be carefully examined, this effort was met with success. More impersonal procedures contributed to this outcome: the increasing literacy, changes in gender relations, the growth of commercialized and professionalized entertainment and the detachment of the carnival festivities from the community.
The key concepts I am going to use in my analysis include elite culture and popular culture. These do not refer to impermeable, self-sufficient, stable or especially coherent socio-cultural formations. However, this does not entail the absence of structures related to the impact of both economic inequality and power on culture. This is an issue I intend to elaborate further by employing, among other concepts, that of hegemony. Hegemony, of course, is about imposing not elite culture but elite’s cultural domination. However, I intend to highlight that, among the variety of relationships included in the generic term of hegemony, the case may be that a massive cultural exchange led to significant transformations of the culture of the hegemonized. Moreover, given that hegemony cannot be a homogeneous procedure, equally successful in all cases and periods, I intend to map its differentiated impact and to locate areas of relative autonomy regarding popular culture.
Finally, I will attempt to answer questions about the spatial and gender dimensions of Athens carnival. The increasing significance of the urban centre in carnival festivities, the changes in the way the neighborhoods were connected during the carnival, the increased access of women to public space were developments that were related, among other factors, to the empowerment of the middle class after the 1870s and its attempts to create a “civilized” environment in the central streets.
– Hypatia Vourloumis: «Performancescapes: Fugitive Athens and the Arts of the Possible»
My research proposal “Performanscapes: Fugitive Athens and the Arts of the Possible” analyzes the emergence, prevalence and proliferation of experimental performance practices during the last few years in Athens, Greece. There has been a phenomenal rise in the diversity of performance appearing from within and against the backdrop of an ongoing economic and social crisis whether in dance, experimental theatre, queer poetry readings, migrant contact improvisation groups, amongst many others, occupying both public and private spheres. These performative mobilizations, emerging from a country not usually understood as an important site for contemporary artistic production, act as counterpoints to the larger social movements of the last few years. My research proposal focuses on these critical performance practices as they gesture from within spaces, including but not limited to, the streets, apartments, and occupied artistic spaces. My research project argues that these manifestations can be understood as forms of “performancescapes”. By way of this neologism, I want to point to several things at the same time. First the creation and imagining of other times and landscapes produced through collectively run spaces, efforts and performances as well as the ways in which processes and experiences of precarity necessarily unleash new bodily positions, relationalities, languages, sounds, gestures and postures. By critically analyzing and theorizing different performance practices my research addresses how subjectivities imaginatively embody moves and resistances in response to a lack of infrastructural and economic support.
More precisely, the performances studied reveal the innovativeness and critique launched by marginalized groups, whether due to class, gender, sexuality and race through their artistic practices. Thus, my notion of performancescapes, which grapples with notions and materialities of constitutive borders, transgressions, dissonances and conflicts, points to a certain fugitivity, an escape prior to or in response to processes of subjection. Furthermore, the experimental and improvisatory practices studied reveal how the performancesacapes they ephemerally produce are not merely about a fight or a simplistic exit but rather express transformative breachings of repressive structures and orders and thus are always already intersectional and political. The writing of the word performancescapes itself attempts to perform a linguistic breaching of sorts and suggests that radical differential performance practices are always a matter of theatrical, poetic and aesthetic being.
– Zissis Kotionis, Ioanna Barkouta, Antonis Antoniou: «Housing Policies and Habitation Practices within a state of emergency in the city of Volos (1922-2015)»
The basic idea underlying this research is the “spatialisation” of theoretical discourses of “emergency” with reference to the city of Volos. Four specific crisis periods will be examined: the arrival of refugees in 1922, the bombardements of 1940-41, the earthquakes during the 50s and finally the current economic and social conditions (from 2010 until today). Choosing as a starting point the notions of housing and habitation in the vertical sense of time within the period of one century, but also in the horizontal sense of space in the city of Volos, tactics and strategies of (housing) subsistence and survival, the city inhabitants (re)describe the city history in an alternative way. From the housing realities to practices of habitation, the inhabitants of Volos remain exposed to precariousness and scarcity, get organised, re-use or destroy spaces, hence giving an emphasis on the multiplicity of needs and wishes.
Looking at the city as a kind of palimpsest, where time periods co-exist through continuities and discontinuities, ruptures and completions in the urban space, traces of the need for housing and habitation are constantly recurring, being inherent in the urban fabric. From 1922 to 1940-41 and from the 50s until today, using or re-inventing uses of space as seen through the angle of “urgency” has given prominence to aspects of habitation and habitation within historical conditions defined by “emergency”. A key issue of the proposal is the “historisation” of crisis along the axis of habitation and housing and, at the same time, the “spatialisation” of historic time, so that “hidden” aspects of politics on housing and the experience of habitation may emerge into surface. A joint review and comparative investigation of the impacts of the arrival and settlement of refugees in 1922, of bombardements during the period of 1940-41, of earthquakes in the 50s and of the current economic crisis, form an attempt to trace a “differentiated” habitation identity, such as it was formed by housing policies and the experiences of habitation in different historic periods until today.
On this basis, a complex multidisciplinary approach is proposed, making use of the methodologies offered by the fields of history, architecture and geography. Applying oral history and sources will allow us, through verbal (re)descriptions, to examine the experiences of habitation and housing. At the same time, exploring the conditions of the subjects’ memory evolvement will help us understand how representations of social notions of space are shaped, and especially that of habitation. Within this framework, one may seek to associate contemporary theoretical assumptions on “state of exception” with the living environment and housing of refugees, the “cracks” in time and habitation during the bombardements of 1940-41 and the assumption of responsibility for the city’s reconstruction by the army during the decade of 1950s. In other words, specific aspects of habitation and housing during historical “emergency” circumstances will be examined.
– Antonis Vradis, Yorgos Mattes: «Police Science in digital environments»
In industrialized societies, criminology determines who counts as deviant and has developed classification systems and other tools for assessing an individual’s degree of social conformation. Deviance in its conventional sense is the outcome of a complex juridical-bureaucratic process; moreover, crime mapping and policing are established in relation to norms both of social functioning and labor market participation. How exactly this is done is rarely apparent to the subjects of assessment. A research attempt to study the ways that statistical elements are received by the police in the metropolitan field and the way they are assessed and either presented or concealed, would necessarily look at the very fields in which the police acts. It would also carefully study the particular method of police operations in their materiality and the ways in which the theoretical-conceptual context that explains and methodically prepares them has been applied. Forms that, through repetition, self-confirm and self-improve. Police science is concerned with the practical solving of problems through systematised methodologies and the scientific grounding of such methods. Yet at the same time, it performatively constitutes a core repertoire of action for the construction of these problems and by extension, the construction of the corresponding prerequisites for its self-perception as an applied science and a scientific paradigm.
Accordingly, although there is noted a fascination with the “sciencing of crime” – as represented by developments in forensic technologies, biotechnologies, computer simulations and virtual reality- and it is promoted as a radical way of thinking about the problem of crime in society, the very notion is based on “hard science”. Actually, there is little new or radical here. What I suggest is the need for a criminology of hybrids focusing on the mapping of techno-social networks, their actants and assemblages that demand precisely the dissolution of binary oppositions and, more particularly, of the human/technical splitting in the apprehension of the phenomenon of crime.
So, are policing and repression technologies and forensic science just another technological package by which work is accomplished? What do the ANT lens have to offer in examining theoretically and empirically these technologies?
The main purpose of our research is the practicalities of valuation, assessment, governance and accountability in digital environments, broadly based on science and technology studies, geography and public policy. ‘Big data’, ‘data mining’, ‘crime analysis’, ‘geographic profiling’, ‘data visualization’, ‘crime mapping’, ‘predictive analytics’: the significance of these techniques lies in the way they frame technology. They present technology itself as neutral and unproblematic. At the same time we are interested in history and historiography of Hellenic Police (Gendarmerie and Urban Police): the everyday life, culture and practice of policemen, the institutional structure through STS prism, the relocation of materialities’ significance, the assemblages of technology and actants in practice etc.
We wish to congratulate the researchers who will be receiving the scholarships, as well as warmly thank all researchers who honored us with their applications.
Please, keep an eye on our website where we will soon announce our bilateral agreements with similar Centres around the world for the exchange of scholars, common projects and other activities.
Within the next few months, we will also announce online our second Public Call for the submission of research proposals to be pursued in 2017, as well as various other activities where researchers can participate.