Monthly Archives: March 2014

Cosmopolitanism Past, Cosmopolitan Futures: A Roundtable Discussion

Why does cosmopolitanism appear both an inevitable conclusion of humanism and also an aporetic socio-cultural endpoint at which we will never arrive? From climate change, debt crises, energy security, environmental disasters, terrorism, transnational social movements, the events that lead our nightly newscasts and drive policy demand a global perspective, and yet it is difficult to imagine a historical moment without its own ‘global perspective,’ just as it is hard to envision a future that does not foster planetary, or species, or global thinking. How, then, have cosmopolitanism’s boundaries shifted in step with social, cultural, economic, and scientific developments? The twentieth century sought solutions to global imbalances through formal institutions of international governance, like the UN, the International Criminal Court, or the World Bank. Today, faith in the efficacy of such institutions has faded and our collective response to global instability is more provisional, improvisational, and contingent. So, are contemporary responses more or less cosmopolitan than those that preceded them? Has the cyclical nature of institutionalization and popular movements shifted how we conceive of cosmopolitanism’s pasts and potential futures? Situated between inevitability and impossibility, this one-day workshop will discuss these questions as well as our collective thoughts, questions, analyses, and hopes about cosmopolitanism past and cosmopolitan futures.

We are soliciting both presenters and a participant audience for our roundtable discussion of “Cosmopolitanism Past, Cosmopolitan Futures” scheduled for April 4th, 2014.  Those interested in presenting can submit a (250-300 word) proposal and a brief bio to camille.vandermarel@ualberta.ca by March 15thGraduate students and junior scholars are especially encouraged to participate. These proposals will take up ongoing and new research: interdisciplinary work is welcomed, as are extensions of seminar projects. Presentations will be short (10 minutes) in order to facilitate the roundtable discussion with panelists and the audience. This roundtable aims to connect researchers working on the problems posed by cosmopolitan futures—for instance, international migration, sovereign debt, neo-imperialism, and corporate social responsibility, etc.,—with those studying related issues of the cosmopolitan past—such as slavery, industrial capitalism, colonialism, corporate imperialism, and other related themes—in one day of roundtable conversations. Coffee and lunch will be provided.
 
For the purposes of catering, please RSVP by March 15 if you wish to attend the workshop.

Universities Build International Electronic Research Bridge

EuroMaidan is a social and political phenomenon, which began in Ukraine in November 2013. Millions of Ukrainian citizens participated in demonstrations against their government’s refusal to sign an Association agreement with the European Union. Then they protested against dictatorship in favour of democratic civic standards. The Government’s use of lethal sniper fire against peaceful protestors resulted in numerous deaths and the escalation of the political situation. The president had to flee the country to escape his arrest. Subsequently Ukraine, with a new government, came under the threat of war. EuroMaidan has become an element in geo-political negotiations among the EU, USA and the Russian Federation.

All of the above events deserve academic analysis and discussion. Five universities in Canada and Ukraine have announced the creation of a joint electronic project called the Contemporary Ukraine Research Forum. The project was started in January by the University of Alberta, MacEwan University and Concordia University College in Edmonton and by the Ukrainian Catholic University and the Kyiv Mohyla Academy National University in Ukraine. Their joint research is inter-disciplinary and topics are seen through the lens of many disciplines, including social and political sciences, economics, media studies, religion, folklore, and literature and linguistics.

The project has established both a web site http://euromaidan-researchforum.ca/ and monthly video-conferences between researchers in Canada and Ukraine. Other post-secondary institutions are invited to participate. Other topics will be added with time and alongside new participants.

The project’s co-directors are Dr. Olenka Bilash from the University of Alberta and Dr. Roman Petryshyn of MacEwan University. Bilash says that “this is an experiment in using digital means to allow dozens of researchers to collaborate in both individual and team projects in three languages – English, Ukrainian and Russian”.

The project is funded by the Kule Institute of Advanced Study (KIAS), the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (CIUS) both at the University of Alberta, the Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre (URDC) at MacEwan University, as well as the Alberta Foundation for Ukrainian Education Society (AFUES).

The coordinator of the project is Oleksandr Pankieiev who brings a strong background in historical studies and journalism to the project. Petryshyn says that “this is the first time such an ambitious electronic network has been created among universities in Canada and Ukraine. Initial positive responses indicate that there will be more projects of this kind in the future.”