Greek in the Early Medieval Balkans, ca.880-1014
My post-doctoral project, entitled Greek in the Early Medieval Balkans 880-1014, will be the first social history of multilingualism in the Balkans and, in particular, of the role and significance of Greek after the late ninth-century arrival of the newly invented Slavonic alphabet. It will argue both that the Balkans were decidedly multilingual, contrary to scholarly consensus, and reveal how medieval multilingualism was manifested and experienced on the ground. This will be carried out through a mixed-method approach using manuscripts and epigraphic monuments, approached not simply as vessels for historical information, but as objects whose materiality is central to the formation of their meaning.
Unequal Official Multilingualism in the Eastern Part of Dualist Hungary
My research project investigates explicit and implicit state language policies in the eastern part of Dualist Hungary (1867–1918). By sampling the extant fonds in eight county branches of the National Archives of Romania and complementing them with the perusal of the local press and with evidence culled from ego-documents, I have pieced together a coherent picture about the patterns of the official use of Hungarian vs. the non-dominant languages, about the factors influencing these patterns and about the gradual expansion of Hungarian. I will present my results against the benchmark of the 1868 Law of Nationalities and the linguistic rights set forth in it. The fact that later legislation eschewed such questions perpetuated the use of this document as a central reference for the contemporaries, an importance also bequeathed on historiographical treatments of the era. The central part of my work will be divided according to the contemporary domains of the official realm, covered section by section in the law: central government agencies, counties, local governments, the jurisdiction, civil-society documents and notarial acts. Each chapter will be concluded with a comparison with international trends. In addition, an introductory chapter will summarize the expectations, beliefs and historical visions in the background of policy designs and implementations.
The Chaplin Vaccine: Taylorism and Immunization in Early-Soviet Film Theory and Fiction
The project examines immunization through the figure of Charlie Chaplin, which dominated early-Soviet discourses on cinema as a means of promoting healthy work culture for the proletariat. Like vaccination, which was an important tool of managing the masses in a country where health was rapidly re-conceptualised as a state concern, cinema was expected to play an important role in moulding the Soviet worker. The purpose of the project is to explore the theoretical potential of vaccination and immunity, which were employed in literature and film theory of the first decade after the Russian revolution to construct film as a kinaesthetic tool of labour education. Through this apparatus, Chaplin became an unlikely agent of “labour vaccination.” Methodologically, the project is inspired by a relatively recent turn towards the history of biosciences in literary studies and film studies. I argue that Chaplin’s position in Soviet culture acquires unique theoretical significance when seen in conjunction with theories that advocate cinema as a tool of ideological vaccination capable of transmitting knowledge about bodily efficiency and labour optimization. Through an interdisciplinary approach my book and accompanying articles will uncover a largely neglected area of Soviet film and cultural history, showing how earlier constructions of vaccination helps us reconsider current discourses of bio-cultural contagion.
A Possible Ally from the East: The Habsburg Intelligence and the Ottoman-Safavid Rivalry, 1560s–1610s
The project will examine the dependencies in the triangle of bilateral relations between the Ottomans, the Safavids, and the Habsburgs. The series of Ottoman-Safavid wars in the extremely vibrant period of the late 16th c. and early 17th c. temporarily hindered the military activity of the Porte in the Mediterranean and Central Europe. They were hence beneficial for both branches of the Habsburg dynasty – prime antagonists of the Ottoman advance to the West. Furthermore, the perception of the Ottomans as a common enemy lead to several ambitious plans for cooperation and anti-ottoman alliances. The project will explore how the Imperial court in Vienna/Prague understood the Ottoman-Safavid rivalry and tried to take advantage of it. By examining written sources, produced by the Habsburg court and its diplomatic network, the research will aim at outlining the degree of acquaintance with different aspects of the manifold bilateral relations between the two Muslim states. Due to the lack of permanent contacts between the Emperor and the Shah, it was the Habsburg intelligence in Istanbul that regularly provided Vienna/Prague with the latest information regarding the developments in the Ottoman-Safavid relations. The poorly studied crucial practices of collecting and delivering information and its vital importance for the decision-making process will come to light.
Narrating AI. Speculating through Science and Fiction on the Future of Machine and Human Intelligence
The proposed research project offers an interdisciplinary model for analyzing artificial intelligence (AI)—through a study of its treatment in contemporary art (primarily literature and film/TV). It seeks to provide a robust foundation for thinking about the future of intelligence by engaging with promising methods and theories in current AI research and adapting them to the apparatuses of disciplines from the humanities and social sciences. This interventention is meant to facilitate the transfer of analytical knowledge between scholarly fields as varied as AI research, philosophy, sociology, and literary studies; it aims to create mental space for conceptual cross-pollination and methodological innovation. The assembled theoretical and methodological apparatus will be evaluated against close readings of a wide range of contemporary speculative fictions (SF) involving AI characters or narrators. SF is seen as a material-semiotic space for thought experimentation at various scales: it permits the kind of imaginative work which is necessary in the invoked disciplines, whenever complex counterfactual scenarios need to be modeled. SF offers a unique advantage in this respect, since it combines parameters for world modeling that are of interdisciplinary interest, and since a wide range of analytical tools have already been developed and adapted to analyze it.
Feminism beyond the Body: Towards a Feminist Theory of Disembodiment
Feminisms have always liked the body. The reason is somewhat reactionary, and the reaction is largely forgotten throughout centuries. It is rooted in Aristotle’s hylomorphism and its identification of the feminine principle with ugliness. Embracing this identification becomes the locus classicus of feminist philosophy’s project to institute femininity as both embodied and rational. Two sources have inspired feminist theorists to reduce and thus defend philosophical femininity as symptomatically embodied: Plotinus (Enneads, III.6) and Irigaray’s interpretation of him (Speculum of the Other Woman). In this project I critique Irigaray’s reading as central to demystifying the reduction of femininity to embodiment. My aim is to then build on this critique and offer a trajectory of interpreting femininity and womanhood as equally relevant to the Plotinian ideal of disembodiment which has traditionally been in turn reduced to a masculine project.
Hidden Madness: Mental Health Governance in Socialist Bulgaria
Bulgarian psychiatric history is, to a significant extent, an empty spot. What exists locally pertains to sanitized history written by psychiatrists themselves. The lasting impression, is they cannot, or do not, want to say what has happened, what has been the private, political, material, scientific, life of the psychiatric field. The first objective would be to reconstruct the boundary maintaining mechanisms of the socialist psychiatry in Bulgaria. The second objective would be to trace the intersections of several different lines of development– juridical framework, type and dynamics of the services, the “material” milieu. The third objective is to throw some light on issues which were among the forbidden topics during the period – suicide and psychiatric abuse. Not many documentsabout psychiatry have been preserved, archives have been destroyed, and there was ideological pushing forward of people without real contribution and the contribution of others was ignored, especially from the period before 1944. The study will use as many sources as possible and combine various qualitative methods, including archival material, and key professional journals during the period, medical press. Another source of data would be interviews conducted with representatives of the generation, whose professional lives are situated predominantly in the socialist period.
Literature and Historiography: Public Scandals over Curricula and Textbooks in Bulgaria (1992–2019)
This project is designed to study the Bulgarian public scandals in the 1992–2019 period related to education in history and literature. After the end of communist rule, education had to undergo institutional depoliticization until the development of new curricula; such were elaborated in 1999–2000, and then in 2016. The five major scandals to be studied under this project erupted consecutively in three stages and bound, in a different way, history and literature together into a common field of national mythology where public opinion formulated its notions of “truth” and “manipulation”, values, national ideals, and so on. Those symptomatic scandals have not been studied in their own right to date, and, besides, public opinion surveys on education issues are a recent phenomenon not only in Bulgaria. Using interdisciplinary research methods and main concepts such as public space of history, conceptual history, national mythology, and text figuratives to analyse the public language of the scandals in question, the project aims to reconstruct the plots of those scandals with a view to their concrete political contexts; to observe the viewpoints of the institutions involved and the public reactions, and the specific points of their intersections and correspondence; to identify their impact on institutional policies; to take into consideration their long-term resonance in the statements of public opinion in Bulgaria.
Thinking in the Borders of the Cold War: Intellectual Relations and Transfers between Socialist Yugoslavia and Latin America (1956-1980)
In the project, I analyze intellectual relations and transfers between Yugoslavia and Latin America in the years 1956-1980. For that, I draw from Yugoslav archival sources and from the intellectual production of the time in former Serbo-Croatian and Spanish. By bridging different traditions in political, intellectual and conceptual history, I aim to shed light on uncharted dimensions of the Cold War and contribute to the understanding of non-aligned intellectual networks. Two hypothesis support my research. The first one is that from the 1950s onwards, in the framework of a general strategy that aimed to gain influence in the Third World, Yugoslav endeavors in Latin America had a strong impact on local intellectuals by offering a model that stepped away from Cold War binaries. The second hypothesis is that Latin American intellectuals did not play a passive role in these exchanges, and that a number of political, economic and social ideas and theories coming from Latin America also had an impact on Yugoslav intellectuals and scientists. During the fellowship at the Center of Advanced Studies in Sofia, I aim to focus my work on the circulation of dependency theory in the framework of these transnational intellectual relations.
A Different Approach into the Philosophical Anthropology: Rethinking the Human through its Antonyms
This is a project in the sphere of philosophical anthropology to be conducted mainly through the methods of ordinary language philosophy, phenomenology, and hermeneutics. It builds on a simple thesis. In order to think through the human in general and to understand our own self-reflective cultural image as humans, we need to consider what we comprehend as opposite or even just different from the human: the inhuman and the nonhuman. As suggested by the two very different words in English our intuitions in this semantic field are divided into two basic types. On one hand, these are intuitions oriented towards that which the human is not (the nonhuman) and on the other hand intuitions towards that which the human should not be (the inhuman/e). These layers respectively reveal the descriptive and normative modes of our thinking on the human condition. The intuitions in question need to be philosophically conceptualized in order to understand their scope, limits, and claim to universality. Thus light can be thrown on the very recent ideas that seem to question our commitment to the humanist ideas. This should provide a more clear-cut interpretation of what it means to strive for a trans-humanist or a post-humanist world.