STEREOTYPICAL REPRESENTATIONS OF ROMA AND JEWS IN PHOTOGRAPHS

A workshop review by Pavel Baloun

The workshop “Stereotypical Representations of Roma and Jews in Photography”, which took place in the French Institute in Prague, October 15, 2018, was the third event in 2018 organized by Kateřina Čapková for the Prague Forum for Romani Histories (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences). The Prague Forum itself was founded in September 2016, and intends to create a space where scholars working on various topics concerning the subject of Romani histories can debate and forge connections and dialogues. Since its creation, the Prague Forum has organized events including scientific conferences (“Tracing the Legacies of the Roma Genocide. Families as Transmitters of Experience and Memory”, September 2017), workshops (Forced Sterilization of Romani Women in the Czech(oslovak) and European Contexts: Past and Present, June 2018), public discussions, and exhibitions.

The workshop itself, arranged in cooperation with the Seminar of Romani Studies (Faculty of Arts, Charles University), the French Institute in Prague, and CEFRES, was divided into two sections. The first was devoted to historical perspectives on the topic. Here, Ilsen About (founding member of the Prague Forum and researcher at the National Centre for Scientific Research, CNRS) presented the depiction of so-called Gypsies at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries in Europe. His main goal, however, was to move beyond simply illustrating the variety of practices of stereotyping, and he showed the importance of understanding the social contexts in which particular photographs were taken, and how photographs could be grasped as a perfect tool to show the agency of those inhabitants who were labelled Gypsies. Secondly, Karolina Szymaniak (Department of Jewish Studies, University of Wrocław) added her expertise on Jewish self-portrayals and their reproduction in Poland in the interwar period and contemporary historiography. Her presentation emphasized the significance of the comparative perspective in thinking about the production and circulation of Jewish and Roma representations in photography.

The second part of the workshop constituted two different presentations of contemporary photographers. Sabin Badžo showed her own cycle entitled “Kalokagathia”, and discussed why and how she uses photography to create representations of contemporary Romani women. She also referred to another recent collection, “Invisible Power” by Tomáš Vrána, who creatively uses the statements of the individuals captured in the photographs to give them their own agency. Another photographer, Iren Stehli, then presented the cycle “Libuna”, documenting her close Romani friend. In this way, the workshop succeeded in interconnecting present practices with the past, encouraging debate which transgresses traditional disciplinary and scientific boundaries, and bringing together diverse interested audiences (historians, Romani-studies scholars, photographers, artists, and Roma).


Photo David Kumermann

Crisis and Renewal in the History of Political Thought

A Conference report by Martin Pjecha

The conference “Crisis and Renewal in the History of Political Thought”, hosted in Heidelberg 11-13 October, 2018, was the fifth conference organized by the European Society for the History of Political Thought (ESHPT, https://europoliticalthought.wordpress.com). The Society itself, founded in 2009, intends to function as a platform for international academic communication between established and young academics on the vast field of “political thought”, broadly defined. To this end, it has organized events, workshops, publications—the most recent being László Kontler and Mark Somos (eds.), Trust and Happiness in the History of European Political Thought (Leiden: Brill, 2017)—and biannual conferences. The latter have all been thematically-focused on issues like citizenship, constitutions, and this year’s crisis, a term linked to sudden change and opportunity in politics.

                The conference’s program represented quite well a broad chronological framework, with papers devoted to authors of the ancient, medieval, early-modern, and modern periods. Yet the focus of the conference clearly lay in the two latter periods, particularly in the early-modern and Englightenment leaning into the modern. It could be argued that some organizers relied on a particular understanding of political thought, evidenced by the weak representation of medieval thought, political theology, and political thought from outside Europe in general; such welcome additions would more fully fulfill the conference’s desire to exhibit the field’s current research trends on a global scale.

                Shortcomings in scale and focus aside, the conference was of quite high quality, with both presenters and audience engaging in thoughtful and well-informed discussion. A part of this may be explained by the proportion of established academics and emeritus scholars in the program; this was by no means a graduate conference. This brings us to the question of the goal and identity of the conference and the ESHPT moving forward, which can either highlight its current strengths in more traditional political thought, or expand its scope to a more precarious but representative notion of global political thought, with the accompanying necessary inclusion of disciplines like religious studies and theology (among others). This conference was clearly an attempt to do both, a challenge which it met with varying success, despite its high intellectual quality.


Peter Szendy : Le Supermarché du visible. Essai d’iconomie

compte rendu par Thomas Mercier

PETER SZENDY, philosophe français d’origine hongroise, enseigne aujourd’hui à Brown University. Même si ses livres défient toute catégorisation hâtive, Szendy est peut-être connu avant tout pour son travail de philosophe de l’art, de philosophe du sensible. C’est d’abord un musicologue, qui s’est également intéressé aux arts visuels et au cinéma, comme c’est le cas dans son dernier livre, Le Supermarché du visible : essai d’iconomie (Minuit, 2017). Continuer la lecture de Peter Szendy : Le Supermarché du visible. Essai d’iconomie

Michaela Passini : L’œil et l’archive

Michaela Passini : L’œil et l’archive. Une histoire de l’histoire de l’artParis, La Découverte, 2017

compte rendu par Adéla Klinerová (EPHE / FF UK)

Michaela Passini est ancienne élève de l’École normale supérieure de Pise et elle est actuellement chargée de recherche au CNRS, à l’Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine. Elle est spécialiste de l’histoire de l’histoire de l’art, précisément le sujet du livre, et spécialiste aussi de l’histoire des musées et du patrimoine. L’œil et l’archive est sa troisième publication à titre individuel, après La fabrique de l’art national. Le nationalisme et les origines de l’histoire de l’art en France et en Allemagne (1870-1933) et La correspondance allemande d’Eugène Müntz. Aux origines de l’institutionnalisation de l’histoire de l’art, parus tous les deux en 2012. Leurs sujets étant proches, ces deux ouvrages résonnent dans certains chapitres de L’œil et l’archive, lorsque l’auteur retrace l’histoire transnationale de l’histoire de l’art : elle s’interroge sur l’histoire et l’évolution de la discipline depuis son institutionnalisation dans le dernier tiers du XIXe siècle, jusqu’au moment de sa refonte dans les années 1970. Continuer la lecture de Michaela Passini : L’œil et l’archive

Quand tous les chemins menaient à Paris. Les échanges artistiques entre la France et l’Europe médiane au XIXe siècle

Compte rendu par Adéla Klinerová

Les 26 et 27 juin 2018 a eu lieu à Prague une journée d’étude organisée par le CEFRES en collaboration avec l’Institut d’histoire de l’art de l’Académie tchèque des sciences (ÚDU AV ČR), l’Institut d’histoire de l’art de la Faculté des lettres de l’Université Charles (ÚDU FF UK) et la Galerie nationale de Prague (NG). Des chercheurs de six pays européens se sont réunis à cette occasion dans les salles solennelles du siège central de l’Académie tchèque des sciences pour discuter des échanges artistiques entre la France et l’Europe médiane au cours du long XIXe siècle. Continuer la lecture de Quand tous les chemins menaient à Paris. Les échanges artistiques entre la France et l’Europe médiane au XIXe siècle

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