The Interdisciplinary Laboratory of Black Sea and Mediterranean Studies, of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, is holding an international conference for doctoral candidates and young scholars currently exploring new directions in social and historical research, focused on modern Europe.

The conference, organized in Thessaloniki, will be held online on August 27-28, 2021. Aiming at disseminating research conducted by young researchers, it will present to a wider scientific audience new questions and interpretive schemes. We call for papers presenting pluridisciplinary or unidisciplinary approaches of social history, intellectual history, political history, social anthropology, political economy, sociology, constitutional and literary analysis.

Αs Charles Tilly had remarked, the creation of a state system and the formation of the worldwide capitalist system are the “two interdependent master processes” of our historical era. Historical depth being necessary for any analysis of the systemic dynamics of our society, perspective-changing historical landmarks, such as economic crises, wars, and pandemics can only be explained and interpreted when inscribed in long processes. Drawing on several disciplines in order to offer an analysis usable by the political forces now fighting for equality, liberty and solidarity, this conference will consider issues from radical contemporary standpoints, while also highlighting the prominent historical and comparative dimensions of issues involved.

We call for papers reflecting on both analyses of the past and our experience of the current historical moment. We all feel, when perceiving our own life, the pandemic as a watershed. We remember the time “before the pandemic”, and we live the present time of COVID-19 wondering how things will be in the hoped-for “after the pandemic”. A feminist visualized the pandemic crisis as a vortex, «a movement spiralling down at increasing speed [that] seems to be getting ever deeper, swirling ever faster and wider, ever more out of control». Both personal and social time split open, creating a “before” and an “after”. A similar “before” and “after” is being experienced in peripheral countries, such as Greece, as regards the Great Crisis of 2007-9, while many other countries in the last decades have experienced traumatically wars, refugee currents, and nutritional crises caused inter alia by financialization.

Whatever its outcome, the unexpected contingencies of the Covid Crisis magnify existing tensions and frictions between classes, states, regions, and cities, in the sense of making them both more acute and more visible. More acute because COVID-19 functions as a force multiplier to social actors, often strengthening established societal tendencies. More visible too as the Pandemic Crisis, comprising both the public health emergency and the subsequent economic crisis, also οperates as a huge magnifying glass to social observers. It shows in bold relief capitalism’s complex and contradictory social patterns and tendencies, feeding geopolitical tensions, polarizing class structures, mutating political systems, and stocking racism, nativism, and national and religious conflicts. As for sexism, at a cellular level the Pandemic Crisis also revealed that patriarchy is alive and well, having never gone away and now returning with a vengeance, like a victorious virus, wherever conditions allow.

In the course of both world crises, the Great Crisis and the Pandemic Crisis, the sovereign state emerged as paramount agent of globalised and financialized capitalism. Its domestic interventions turned it both into the effective cause of the Pandemic Crisis and the main rescuer of the system. Sweeping aside liberal precepts and prescriptions, states foisted upon social and private life invasive measures centered on public health and hygiene, plus severe restrictions of civil liberties and economic activity, even including partial nationalization. These actions, scarcely even envisaged before the pandemic, startle less when seen in context.

Exactly this context we will examine in our international conference, where we will also present basic notions helpful in elucidating and analysing the current conjuncture. Drawing on existing theories, while also listening to heterodox analyses, we will use tools borrowed from various disciplines and schools of thought, and utilize wide-ranging techniques to assess social and political parametres and deliver answers to key questions.

The conference will be held in English. Each presentation will be allocated 20 minutes. There will be no participation fee.

Researchers interested in participating are invited to submit the title and abstract of their proposed presentation (approximately 350 words) including reference to the methods and sources used, as well as a short CV.

All proposals must be submitted by July 20, 2021, to the following e-mail address: 

Papers selected for presentation must be sent to the same e-mail address by August 22, 2021, in order to be published electronically after the conclusion of the conference.

Scientific Committee

Bilgin Ayata,

Loukianos Hassiotis,

Alexandra Ioannidou,

Charalambos Kouroundis,  

Costas Lapavitsas,

Nese Ozgen,

Charikleia Yioka,

Grigoris Zarotiadis,

Please note that the deadline for the submission of abstracts has been extended until 31/7/2021. The Organizing Committee of the Conference