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Announcement of results regarding the 5th Public Call for research proposals for the year 2020

3 January 2020

The Research Centre for the Humanities (RCH) happily announces the results of its 5th Public Call for Funding Research Proposals to be pursued in the year 2020.

 

After completing the evaluation process based on reports by scholars from Greek and other Universities and Research Centers, 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):

 

POST-DOCTORAL RESEARCHERS

 

  • Bourlessas Panagiotis, of Urban Studies, Gran Sasso Science Institute (L’Aquila) & Scuola Universitaria Superiore Sant’Anna (Pisa)

Title: The ‘virtual tourist gaze’ in a city of crisis: Digital geographies and virtually mediated reterritorializations of Athens “

Summary: Amidst Athens’ mounting touristification, which is being instrumentalized by City Authorities to cope with financial crisis and urban austerity, this research project attempts a critical geographic analysis of the city’s ongoing reterritorializations as produced by and through the virtualities of tourism. Going beyond the mere representational, as common reductionist views on virtuality have it, the project conceives of ‘reterritorialization’ as the performative outcome of two parallel and mutually constitutive elements: first, of visuality, referring to what and how is rendered visible/invisible and through what circuits; and second, of materiality, referring to the involved human/non-human bodies and practices. Respective to this conception, two research questions guide the proposed research: First, how is Athens (re)made through online touristic visual products: what city is rendered ‘visible’ and what city ‘invisible’ to the ‘tourist gaze’, and through what digital circuits that practically shape this gaze? Second, how is the virtual tourist gaze practised in material urban space: through which bodily practices and what are the subjectivities performed throughout?

Theoretically, the project draws from recent advancements in the emerging field of Digital/Virtual Geographies as well as from post-structuralist views on tourism and tourist geographies in particular, in order to achieve a critical theoretical-empirical account, which will prepare the ground for a further, long-term and extensive post-doctoral research. The City of Athens official online tourist guide becomes the central cultural object of analysis, whereas a two-fold focus is sought combining visual and ethnographic research methods. First, an intertextual visual analysis of the website as a ‘digital interface’ of visual-discursive elements, is expected to reveal the ways Athens is virtually reterritorialized for tourists. Second, ethnographic methods will explore the website as a ‘digital platform’ which actually connects tourists and locals in physical urban space to experience the city together via bodily practices. Participant observation of these practices and in-depth interviews are expected to reveal how the subjectivities of ‘the tourist’ and ‘the local’ are performed in novel, digitally mediated ways in urban space.

Despite the widespread diffusion of digital imagery and platforms that nowadays mediate tourist experiences and practices, as enacted in space, tourist virtualities and their subsequent urban reterritorializations still remain strikingly undertheorized. Especially concerning contexts of urban austerity, such as that of Athens, where tourism is often uncritically promoted as an economic panacea, our understandings can be substantially benefited from empirical accounts of how the virtualities of digital technologies both represent and enact novel forms of urban spatialities and subjectivities. Harnessing the digital turn in Human Geography, and attempting an innovative intersection with Critical Tourism Studies, the proposed research aspires to be a critical intervention in understanding the social, cultural and political dynamics of a fragile urban ecology increasingly transformed by digital assemblages, such as those of tourism. Athens becomes thus a powerful exemplar of the visual and material modulations of cities enabled by tourist websites, yet affecting the city overall —modulations that, relating to broader socio-spatial dynamics, are particularly important in times of rapid societal change.

 

  • Kolokytha Chara, Dr. of Art History, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

Title: “′Le Génie du Nord′ and Cosmopolitanism: An alternative cultural history of Western Europe between the wars”

Summary: The project focuses on the examination of the typology and cultural permeability of Nordicism within the Western European cultural sphere between the wars. It traces the cluster of ideas developed around the problematic historical trajectory of Nordicism, paying necessary attention to questions of meaning, reception, interpretation and identity. Its central objective is to set the foundations for the writing of an alternative cultural history of Western Europe in which Nordicism is not reduced to interpretations of nationalism, racism and regionalism but advocates a distinct transcendental cosmopolitanism. The term ‘Nordic’, which literally refers to Scandinavian countries, is employed here to describe the cultural identity of the northern provinces of Belgium and France, as described in the book titled Le Génie du Nord by the Flemish author André de Ridder in 1925. De Ridder envisions the spiritual renaissance of Europe through the creation of a Nordic classicism that combines French rationalism with Flemish expressionism, an eclectic dualism in Edmond Picard’s words. This aspect of Nordicism that was cultivated as a distinct phenotype in Western European artistic and literary discursive nexuses between the wars falls within a larger web of cultural trends such as Pan-Germanism or Gothicism but nourishes aspects of cosmopolitanism. This research seeks to fill critical gaps in the broader understanding of North/South typologies and dichotomies during the development of regional and national identities in Europe after World War I. Taking as a point of departure the 1925 publication of Le Génie du Nord, which has reflected most thoroughly and most programmatically on the concept of a Northern Genius, my project involves a threefold research strategy: 1. It seeks to examine the Génie du Nord concept in its direct cultural context starting with discursive and narrative analyses of De Ridder’s text, embedding it in his own biography, 2. It inquires the genealogy of the concept in Western Europe from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century, attempting to trace preceding patterns of thought that gave birth to the concept, 3) It surveys the Nachleben/afterlife of the concept in interwar and post-war Belgium, France and Germany.

 

  • Stergiou Gianna, Dr. of Classical Philology, University of Edinburgh

Title:Economic thought in Archaic Greece: the case of Pindar and Bacchylides”

Summary: This proposal offers a new approach to the epinician odes of Pindar and Bacchylides based on a methodology derived from economic anthropology and Marxist inspired literary theory. Both poets made their living by composing epinician odes for the victors of panhellenic Games. The victors belonged in the aristocratic elite, while some of them were tyrants. The society in which they lived had a fluid economic structure in which there was a form of embedded economy with elements of market economy. After all, the widespread use of currencies and the new class of traders had overturned the old situation. it is important to view the poems through this dual economic lens in order to access their ideological manoeuvres and negotiations. Bacchylides’ poetry remains attached to the old economy, as expressed in Homer, and therefore follows the rules of the gift economy. For Bacchylides, the patron’s wealth and the poem are not things but relationships amongst people about things. For Pindar, however, things are different, as the poet seems to have been adapted to the new situation in which money is what defines and shapes human relationships.

I shall dispute the view of the Pindaric poetic world as economically unified, as it is analyzed in the most important book about the Pindaric economy, that of Leslie Kurke (Leslie Kurke, The Traffic in Praise: Pindar and the Poetics of Social Economy. Myth and Poetics Series. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991). I argue that Pindar’s ideological strategies do not efface commodities by reinscribing them as gifts, but rather draws attention to the co-existence of commodity exchange and gift economy. I argue that a holistic view of a fully embedded economy applies only to Bacchylides. His poetry is more obedient to the ‘cultural hegemony’. I shall explore the issue of why Bacchylides maintains a ‘structured silence’ about the economic realities of his world.

The analysis of the odes devoted to Hieron and to the Emmenids composed by Pindar and Bacchylides brings to light the function of poetry as an ideological ‘state’ apparatus on behalf of the wealthy class. My research shall show how do or do not the poets oppose the absolute hegemony of the tyrant.

 

  • Vassiliadou Dimitra, Dr. of History, University of Crete

Title:Ruptured Humans: Sexual Crimes in Interwar Greece”

Summary: The proposed research focuses on the diverse insular communities of the Aegean to uncover a history of sexualised violence in interwar Greece. Premised on the assumption that sexual practices and ideologies are social and cultural constructs and, like anything else, are subject to change, this project explores rape in its historical specificity, as a criminal act, court case, public scandal, offence against common morals, and individual experience. Its archival backbone consists of rape and attempted rape cases that somehow reached local police and legal authorities. A second pillar for the understanding of rape as a criminal form of offence would be the national statutory laws and their various interpretations by Greek legislators and jurists.

Adopting a methodological strategy that enables a multifaceted exploration of sexual coercion, the study will draw on pretrial documents, trial proceedings, penal codes and law treatises. These sources can reveal transformations in legal understandings and treatments of rape, as well as in the ways that important power dynamics of difference (for example, gender, age, and socioeconomic status), act upon ideologies and practices of sexual violence. They can also unpack the multiplicity of cultural meanings assigned to rape over time, privileging the voices of the individuals involved: policemen, jurists, perpetrators, victims and witnesses. In doing so, the project will highlight how authorities, communities and individuals evaluated the moral injury that a rape provoked to the social reputation of victims and their families. It will also uncover official and lay perceptions on proper and unacceptable sexuality, on coerced and consensual sex and their shifts over time.

 

RESEARCH GROUPS

 

  • Kouroutzas Christos, of Sociology, University of the Aegean
  • Trubeta Sevasti, Professor of Sociology (Vertretungsprofessur) on “Childhood and Difference (Diversity Studies)”, University of Applied Sciences Magdeburg-Stendal, Germany
  • Paraskevopoulos Dimitris, Dr. of Sociology, University of the Aegean

Title:Family Reunification Post-Mortem – Dead Border Crossers as ‘Biological Thanato-Citizens’”

Summary: This project deals with the identification of dead migrants and refugees that uses DNA tests in order to hand over the corpses to their families. We consider this process an act of family reunification and raise the guiding research question as to how far a genetic criterion for family reunification gives rise to new post-mortem refugee and migratory subjectivities, given that, in this process, the family and the individual are defined not in social but in genetic terms. Drawing upon theoretical concepts such as “biological citizenship” (Novas and Rose 2011) and “thanato-citizenship” (Simpson and Sariola 2013), we suggest the term “biological thanato-cizenship” to describe a post-mortem biologically determined social subject.

The aims and objective of the proposed research are the following: a) to explore the ways in which biology acts as a certificate which allows for the reunification of the dead refugees and migrants with their biological families; b) to examine the post-mortem identity construction of refugees and migrants as a specific form of subjectivisation engaged in by both the living members of their families as well as the state authorities responsible for the identification of the corpses; and c) to revisit the current sociological debates on biological/genetic citizenship and thanato-citizenship and to advance these debates by placing the focus on an underexposed issue, i.e. the family members themselves, and by elaborating the concept of biological thanato-citizenship.

The research plan relies on qualitative methodology from the social sciences and combines qualitative document analysis and ethnographic fieldwork. The finding of this empirical research will be appraised by critical discourse analysis. The empirical research will be conducted in Athens and on Lesvos island.

 

  • Spourdalakis Michalis, Professor of Political Sociology, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
  • Gousis Konstantinos, PhD candidate in Political Science, Roehampton University, London
  • Prepi Alkisti, PhD candidate in Urban and Regional Planning, National Technical University of Athens

Title: The Condition of Unaccompanied Children in the Athens City Centre: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Institutional Framework.”

Summary: This research is positioned to examine the principle of the Best Interest of the Child and how it can ensure the highest protection standard for unaccompanied children (UAC) in the Athens city centre. Focusing on Greece’s largest municipality, it aims at “translating” this principle into concrete practices in law, policy and urban governance and as a method of cooperation and intervening. Deploying the interdisciplinarity of our research group, in the first part the national legislation, case law and everyday practice will be examined questioning whether they fulfil international human rights obligations. Combining, through the method of critical legal reflection, everyday realities of human rights practitioner with the principle of the Best Interest of the Child, gaps between theory and practice will be rethought building on the local and international experience on ensuring UAC rights through the innovative advocacy tool of “strategic litigation”. In the second part, Athens Municipality is viewed through the lens of the role that the metropolitan urban centres are called upon undertaking in the wider context of international governance transformations. Therefore, through the method of content analysis 5 development projects for the Athens city centre will be examined based on both the amplitude of their survey and the impact they seem to have up to the present day. Within these projects, we will focus on examining the way the refugee/migrants question is approached and consequently the way the Municipality draws its main directions, as well as investigating whether and how the issue of UAC is specifically developed. Aiming at a deeper understanding of the contemporary governance landscape and the interconnections between the different institutions responsible for UAC, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with social workers and lawyers working in NGOs, as well as with Athens Municipality officers, responsible for Migration issues. This research will lead to a report with propositions which will be discussed and completed through a workshop including researchers, institutions (Athens Municipality, NGOs etc) and representatives of migrant and refugee communities, for a constructive engagement between academics, experts and key actors in the field. Interdisciplinarity gives us the opportunity to combine legal tactics with the prioritisation of the Best Interest of the Child in the wider urban policies, as a de facto element of the Right to the City. This approach enriches the broader discussion on strategic litigation, urban planning and welfare system and can contribute to the implementation of best practice initiatives, beyond spatial and social segregations. The resulting Final Report will be distributed to the related institutions as a toolkit for informing practice and contributing to policy development.

 

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We wish to congratulate the researchers who will be receiving the funding for the year 2020, as well as warmly thank all researchers who honored us with their applications.