5th seminar of the 4th Cycle of ETHNOGRAFEIN Online Educational Seminars (2023-2024)

Critical dialogues, epistemological challenges, 
field experiences, creative texts

Performance oikade (Aleksandros Plomaritis)
[provided by Dr. Christina Grammatikopoulou]

The online seminars series ETHNOGRAFEIN, since its inception in the spring of 2021, aims to contribute to a critical and interdisciplinary discussion about the theory and practice of ethnography, the epistemology of research, the significance of embodied experience, and also the modes of dissemination of the anthropological knowledge produced to both academic and non-academic audiences. The anthropological endeavour, both as a mode of research practice and a form of political writing, is based on the fundamental epistemological premises of critical evaluation, empathy, reflection, and self-referentiality and highlights the significance of a multifaceted analysis for the understanding of the local to the global. 
Organisation and coordination: Fotini Tsibiridou – Ioannis Manos – Eleni Sideri

The 4th period of the ETHNOGRAFEIN online seminars, starting in October 2023 with the title “Borders and boundaries revisited: Anthropological perspectives and public engagement“, sets the study of geopolitical borders as its point of departure to examine the diverse phenomena and processes that abound in the contemporary state border regions and have multilevel consequences for the border populations. 

By definition, studying borders and boundaries involves exploring the relationship between the ‘inside’ and the ‘outside’, or the “Self” and the “Other”. However, this is not a study of clear-cut dichotomies but an analysis of the interplay of multiple, multilevel, coexisting, but not necessarily interconnected processes. Boundaries are configured and take shape within a historically determined frame. They are subject to transformations in socio-political and economic contexts and are characterised by institutionally organised asymmetrical power relations. The complex making of borders and boundaries often emerges as a continuous interaction between mobility and enclosure, communication, coexistence, exchange, interaction, sameness and otherness, separation, exclusion, segmentation, connection and disconnection.

The anthropological study of geopolitical borders and their populations by anthropology was systematised in the mid-1990s. It was initially based on two paradigms: the study of the USA-Mexico and European borders. Nowadays, analysing social phenomena and cultural processes concerning borders and boundaries transcends disciplinary boundaries. Novel approaches such as the crοsslocations framework and the current discussion on decolonising methods and epistemologies have expanded the analytical and conceptual significance of the concepts of border and boundary. New methodological and interpretative tools have been created to study politics, trans-border mobility, materiality, transnationalism, topologies and genealogies of migration and refugeeness, border economics, and nation-state policies concerning spatial and cultural diversity, minority rights, and performative culture. 

Based on detailed explorations of ethnographic research and anthropological insights, the 4th cycle of the ETHNOGRAFEIN online seminars critically examines the theoretical, epistemological and methodological complexities surrounding the study of geopolitical borders and their imposed dichotomies. Moreover, it discusses anthropology’s potential to bring forth the subtleties of human voices often overshadowed by macro narratives and create an inclusive, comprehensive dialogue in the public sphere that demonstrates the multiplicity of lived experiences.

“Everyday Diplomacy and Crossing Boundaries: Case of Georgia” 

Ketevan Gurchiani 
Professor of Anthropology, Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia

Ketevan Gurchiani:  Everyday Diplomacy and Crossing Boundaries: Case of Georgia
In her talk Ketevan Gurchiani analyzes the practices of boundary crossings that are shaped by everyday diplomacy. Based on an example from a village, she discusses how religion, the main dividing line between groups, becomes a site of boundary crossings. The research shows how everyday peace is constantly reaffirmed through the tradition of inviting Muslim godparents to baptize Christian children. These practices also find their continuation in urban milieus. The city provides religious and non-religious buffer zones where dividing lines are easily blurred. The talk explores tactics people employ in their everyday lives to allow for peaceful coexistence, but also imbalances this kind of everyday diplomacy entails.

Ketevan Gurchiani is a professor of anthropology at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. She is particularly interested in the domesticated and non-domesticated nature of the city, materiality and religion, and informal practices of resistance. Ketevan Gurchiani is also involved in research projects that focus on diversity, migration, and peace practices. Her most recent publications include A Gallery of Ghosts: Death and Burial in Lands Marked by Trauma, Material Religion (with Catherine Wanner, Zuzanna Bogumił, Sergei Shtyrkov) and Die verborgene Macht der Bäume. Urbaner Widerstand in Tiflis. In:  Verdeckter Widerstand in demokratischen Gesellschaften in Frankfurter Beiträge zur Soziologie und Sozialphilosophie (2022)

Only those participants who wish to receive certificates of attendance register in the following form: https://forms.gle/zNpUFtrY5Rrvhh6i9

The registration form will receive answers one week before the seminar.


Seminar Platform: ZOOM

Link  https://zoom.us/j/8364531775?pwd=OVg3YVZlbmVCYWs3S0JYcEFGYlV1QT09
Meeting ID: 836 453 1775     Passcode: KB2JKa