[CfP] The Balkans as a Space of Nourishment

(Press release of the Department of Cultural Anthropology / Cultural History of the University of Jena)

Hybrid Conference
The Balkans as a Space of Nourishment

Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena
16-18 November 2023

We welcome context-sensitive, site-specific accounts that explore rich history of nourishment in theory and practice across the Balkans.

In the international news as well as in a vast majority of scholarly accounts, the Balkans figure first and foremost as a site of violence, destruction, and deprivation. The region’s rich tradition of nourishment, whether of plants and land, non-human animals and human relationships, and collective solidarity in challenging surroundings gets little, if any, spotlight. This conference aims to explore the history of the Balkans as a space and idea of nourishment through frameworks offered by the recent care turn and attention paid to compassion, healing, and eco-restorative practices of companionship (Haraway, Tsing, Brown).

The concept of nourishment goes beyond care in foregrounding thriving, flourishing, nurturing and nutrition, pleasure, joy, and rest. When informed by environmentalist thought, feminist and decolonial accounts of care centering on interdependencies and local knowledge, the concept of nourishment has a capacity to go beyond individualized notion of self-care and widely used concepts of resilience. The theoretical framework of nourishment explores tending to soil and animal husbandry, histories of food and hospitality, and spiritual practices advancing well-being.

We thus welcome context-sensitive, site-specific accounts that explore rich history of nourishment in theory and practice across the Balkans.

We invite historians of the region to consider some of the following questions: How was thriving of body, mind, and soul envisioned by different members of society? Departing from the reconfigured view of human-nature relations, i.e., dwelling “interwoven with land, water, plants, animals,” how can we approach “spirit world[s]” (Chazan) that go beyond the Cartesian divisions body/mind? In this vein, how have people nourished themselves, other human and non-human animals, the land, and the city? What traditions of social thought decisively shaped the understanding of nourishment?

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • (anti-)extractivism and nourishment
  • farming, foraging, agriculture and nourishment
  • architectures, materialities, infrastructures of nourishment
  • spaces of nourishment, wellness and leisure
  • medical and environmental humanities and concepts of nourishment in sickness and health
  • theoretical accounts on nourishment, thriving, and well-being
  • body and nourishment
  • spiritual notions of nourishment
  • agencies and ambivalences of nourishment

We welcome proposals (250 words) for 20-minute presentations in English. This is a hybrid conference that will take place both at Friedrich-Schiller-Universität in Jena and online. We will be able to offer some reimbursement to those attending in person.

Please, send your abstracts and a short bio (including whether you plan to attend in person or online) to Lea Horvat (lea.horvat@uni-jena.de), Ana Sekulić (ans401@pitt.edu) and/or Snežana Stanković (snezana.stankovic@uni-jena.de) by March 31, 2023.

Further information