Καλώς ορίσατε (Welcome)!
We are happy to announce that this summer we will be hosting the 2nd Pelion Summer Lab for Cultural Theory and Experimental Humanities (PSL), an initiative of the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology and the Laboratory of Social Anthropology of the University of Thessaly. Τhe aim of this 10-day program (June 28-July 8, 2018) is to convene an interdisciplinary group of graduate students, advanced undergraduates, academics and cultural producers from fields such as anthropology, history, arts, political philosophy, gender studies, literary and cultural studies and new media studies for a period of intensive and provocative exchange regarding the pressing problems and questions of our research and our worlds.
Given that the humanities and social sciences are themselves critically at stake in these developments, both as target and launchpad for critique, a fundamental aspect of the summer lab is the reimagining of our habitualized modes of teaching, researching and disseminating knowledge. Thus, we do not see this summer meeting as simply an extension of our normal way of doing things to another time and place. Instead, we envision these days together as an opportunity to experiment and reflect together on how to better develop communities of learning and intellectual exchange outside of established routines and hierarchies. We have to say that PSL 2017 was incredibly inspiring and intense. Among the many takeaways from last year’s experience was the simple fact that it’s always better to take risks with our certainties in situations that are not quite set up for us, than to wait for the so-called ‘right time’. This winter, as we processed last year’s lab and pondered the feedback of our first cohort, we decided that it is imperative to further shake up our methodology: a decision that in part led to our choice of theme this year.
PSL 2018’s Liminal Lives and Para-Sites will address new aspects of an ‘old’ issue. In our digital contemporary, liminality -- as a situation, experience, quality, subjectivity -- keeps expanding, unfolding itself over vast territories. In camps where intense refugee flows set down for indefinite time periods, in refuge and asylum sites where relations of care, kinship, community, confinement/freedom and nature/culture are reassembled, in public squares occupied by unpredictable political crowds and flash mobs, in bodies demonstrating new somatic possibilities and unboxing gender regimes, in hybrid monetary units and deterritorialized fiscal products, in new materialities, relationships, voices and images of self generated by digital machines and algorithmic systems, liminality increasingly claims and defines organic lives, social spaces, technological networks and material artifacts. This year’s summer lab will center on the liminal lives and parasitic/viral networks of the early 21st century through a genealogical perspective, which brings out the constitutive power of experimentation as a way of reshaping the world from early modernity to today.
Indeed, liminality does not just speak to our historical situation, but also to our intellectual, methodological and institutional positionality in a neoliberal university structure, the contemporary ‘knowledge economy’ and an age of digital unschooling and DIY maker culture, affecting how we might work, talk and play. Our intent at PSL 2018 is to move beyond manifestos and nostalgia regarding the ‘crisis’ of the humanities to inhabit and explore a liminal humanities. What more appropriate, then, than to make Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus (1818), Mary Shelley’s ur-text of monster tech and experimental novel par excellence, one of the touchstones of our investigations. Joining others around the globe this year in celebrating the novel’s bicentennial, we will discuss aspects of experimentation -- both ‘scientific’ and grammatological -- from the threshold of industrial modernity to digital capitalism, in search of revisiting experiment as a robust and productive methodology provoking critical engagement.
This year’s summer lab will have us heading up to the top of Mount Pelion, to the cool, leafy mountain perch of Hania (1200m), with its spectacular views over the city of Volos and the Pagasetic Gulf. Just across the mountain ridge, the green slopes, beaches and coves of Aegean Pelion unfurl below. It is no wonder that in this majestic and yet ‘hidden’ setting one of Greece’s first sanatoria was established in the first decade of the 20th century, attracting prominent Greek intellectuals and cultural producers. The evocative ruins of the structures of this complex, a short hike from the site of this year’s PSL, resonate with this year’s theme. Participants and faculty will be lodged at a local hotel (half-board) in Hania, and we will have the 15-acre beech forest “Centaur” Scout Center with campfire circles and tree houses at our disposal for our conversations and explorations.
We believe that meeting and working in this space supports our vision of creating a convivial environment for informative and challenging conversation, productive inquiry and creative production, laying the groundwork for future collaborations.
We look forward to meeting you this summer,
The organizing committee,
Penelope Papailias, Associate Professor of Social Anthropology, Dept. of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly
Mitsos Bilalis, Assistant Professor of History, Dept. of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly
Christina Mitsopoulou, Ph.D., Classical Archaeology, Laboratory Teaching Staff, Dept. of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly
Petros Petridis, Ph.D., Social Anthropology, Lecturer, Dept. of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly
Pantelis Probonas, Ph.D. candidate, Dept. of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, University of Thessaly