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Published on Monday, April 11, 2022 by Sarah Zingraff

Summary

The international conference deals with the links between mass gymnastics and biopolitics in the modern history of East Central Europe. The conference aims to bring new insights on the history of biopolitics and eugenics in East Central Europe. It explores the role of associations, in general, and of mass gymnastics, in particular, in the production and circulation of biopolitical knowledge in this part of the world. The presentations investigate how biopolitics informed the practices of mass gymnastics, and how these practices, in turn, shaped the discourses such as eugenics, biotypology, and race science.

Announcement

Presentation

The international conference, generously supported by CEFRES, Czech Academy of Sciences, and Pasts, Inc. Center for Historical Studies, deals with the links between mass gymnastics and biopolitics in the modern history of East Central Europe. In particular, the event focuses on the Sokol [Falcon], a nationalist mass gymnastics association. Founded in Bohemia in the 1860s, Sokol was modelled after the German nationalist gymnastics association Turnverein. Embracing a discourse about Slavic commonality, Sokol associations were adopted by nationalists in multiple contexts of East Central Europe and were widespread in their diasporas, as well. By the 1930s, Sokol associations had a mass membership in Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The three-day event will bring together scholars studying Sokol gymnastics in these contexts, and encourage them to inquire about the entanglements or even symbiosis between mass gymnastics and biopolitics in interwar East Central Europe as well as about its long-term continuities.

The conference aims to bring new insights on the history of biopolitics and eugenics in East Central Europe. It explores the role of associations, in general, and of mass gymnastics, in particular, in the production and circulation of biopolitical knowledge in this part of the world. The presentations investigate how biopolitics informed the practices of mass gymnastics, and how these practices, in turn, shaped the discourses such as eugenics, biotypology, and race science. Importantly, the Sokol associations in East Central Europe were closely linked, thus proving Anne-Marie Thiesse’s point that few things are as transnational as nationalism.The presentations thus illuminate not only the circulation of biopolitical knowledge on the local level, but also point out to its transnational dimensions. Conversely, a focus on biopolitics enriches the discussion about associations in interwar East Central Europe, which so far dealt with their involvement in various agendas linked to modernisation or language use ; our conference, however, investigates the biopolitical goals embraced by these associations, and explores the complex relationship of these associations to the nationalizing states and their biopolitical agendas.

The conference engages with the recent efforts to rethink the conventional periodization of history in East Central Europe. This emerging body of literature problematizes the events that were traditionally seen as turning points, and that were derived from political history, such as the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in 1918. Instead of interpreting these political events as radical breaks, historians now tease out the continuities of actors, practices, and institutions. Our conference would like to shift the focus of this debate to biopolitics. How much of interwar biopolitics drew on older models and networks formulated within an imperial context ? Moreover, can we trace any continuities between biopolitics in the interwar period and in the postwar state socialist regimes in East Central Europe ? We argue that to discuss these questions we need to see biopolitical theories as embedded in social practices and institutions. In empirical terms, therefore, mass associations such as the Sokol provide an ideal ground for this analysis.

Program

28 April | 16 :00–18 :30 | CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1

  • 16 :00–16 :30 Welcoming of the participants Opening remarks of the Director of Cefres and the organizers
  • 16 :45–17 :45 Keynote lecture 1 Balázs Trencsényi (Central European University – CEU, Vienna), Transnational Histories of Nationalism in East Central Europe

Discussion

29 April | 9 :00–17 :30 | CEFRES, Na Florenci 3, Prague 1

  • 9 :00–9 :40 Keynote lecture 2 Petr Roubal (Institute of Contemporary History, Prague), Can the People Betray?” Continuities and Conflicts in Post-War Mass Gymnastics

Discussion

10 :00–11 :00 | Coffee Break

11 :00–13 :00 Biopolitics, Nationalism, Supranationalism. Part 1 Transnational Nationalism : Sokol and the concepts of Slavic commonality

  • Isidora Grubački (Institute of Contemporary History, Ljubljana) The Yugoslavist orientation of feminism in interwar Yugoslavia: the case of Zofka Kveder
  • Miklós Tömöry (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) Serbian Youth Movement, Military Culture in Novi Sad and the Beginnings of Serbian Sokol
  • Dušan J. Ljuboja (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) Pan-Slavism as an idea. A brief overview of its main transformations in the 19th and 20th centuries

13 :00–14 :00 | Lunch

14 :00–15 :30 Biopolitics, Nationalism, Supranationalism. Part 2 Dis/continuities Post-1945

  • Paul Batcabe-Lacoste (ENS Paris-Saclay, Sciences Po, Paris) The Peace Race, a Tour de France in the Eastern Bloc (1952-1957)?
  • Fabio Giomi (CNRS, CETOBaC, Paris) A Radical Youth: Analyzing Catholic Associational Life in Interwar Yugoslavia through the Memoirs of Marica Stanković

15 :30–16 :00 | Break

16 :00–17 :30 East Central Europe’s Special Issue contributors’ presentations. Part 1

  • Jovana Papović (EHESS, CETOBaC, Paris) The Sokol and the Shaping of Yugoslav Youth
  • John Paul Newman (Maynooth University) The Moravian Sokol in the Interwar Period

30 April | 9 :00–14 :30 | Czech Academy of Sciences, Národní 3, Prague 1

09 :00–10 :30 East Central Europe’s Special Issue contributors’ presentations Part 2

  • Vladana Putnik Prica (University in Belgrade) The Role of Architecture in Shaping the Sokol Visual Identity in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
  • Ivaylo Nachev (Institute of Balkan Studies, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) The Yunak societies in Interwar Bulgaria (1918–1939)
  • Lucija Balikić & Vojtěch Pojar (CEU, Vienna) Plastic nationhood: Eugenic thought and initiatives in the post-Habsburg Sokol

10 :30–11 :00 | Break

11 :00–12 :00 East Central Europe’s Special Issue contributors’ presentations. Part 2

  • Kamil Ruszała (Jagiellonian University, Krakow) Sokół in Partitioned Poland and Early Interwar Period
  • Irina Sirotkina (Institute for the History of Science and Technology) From Prague to Russia: The Sokol’s Turbulent Flight to the East

12 :00–13 :00 | Lunch

  • 13 :00–14 :00 Planning for the future project and publication moderated by John Paul Newman
  • 14 :00–14 :30 | Closing remarks by the organizers

Places

  • Na Florenci 3 | Národní 3
    Prague, Czechia (110 00)

Event format

Hybrid event (on site and online)


Date(s)

  • Thursday, April 28, 2022
  • Friday, April 29, 2022
  • Saturday, April 30, 2022

Keywords

  • Sokol, nationalism, biopolitics, mass gymnastics, East Central Europe, empire, intellectual history

Contact(s)

  • Vojtech Pojar
    courriel : Pojar_Vojtech [at] phd [dot] ceu [dot] edu
  • Lucija Balikić
    courriel : Balikic_Lucija [at] phd [dot] ceu [dot] edu

Information source

  • Vojtech Pojar
    courriel : Pojar_Vojtech [at] phd [dot] ceu [dot] edu

To cite this announcement

« Biopolitics and Mass Gymnastics in the Modern History of East Central Europe », Conference, symposium, Calenda, Published on Monday, April 11, 2022, https://calenda.org/986513

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