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What’s Not New in the New Europe: Ancient Answers to Modern Questions - 12-13/07/2016, Lodz (Poland)


The political, social, and economic challenges Europe faces today appear to many people as utterly new and unprecedented, but most of them had their parallels in the ancient world. Throughout antiquity, members of Greek states and communities were confronted with numerous threats to their life and livelihood, and felt the need to defend the social and political entities that defined them. They lived in a world of constant economic crises, wars, destruction of entire cities, immigration, and social instability. The remedies for these pressing issues and their causes were the subject of public deliberation and theoretical reflection, constantly in search for a more stable and viable political order. Instead of simply idealising the ‘wisdom of the Greeks’, this workshop seeks to identify those of the ancient experiences that can be fruitfully compared with the challenges lying ahead of modern Europe, along with their causes and proposed solutions. How, then, did the Greeks confront their own crises? Given their political assumptions and realities, how would they have dealt with the ‘European experience’ today, and would their solutions be acceptable to us? Is there anything in particular in their answers that may now be followed or, to the contrary, avoided?



FECHA/ DATE/DATA: 12-13/07/2016

LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: University of Lodz, Lodz (Poland)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: The International Society for the Study of European Ideas (ISSEI)

INFO: web - jakub.filonik@uw.edu.pl

INSCRIPCIÓN/REGISTRATION/REGISTRAZIONE: web

Hasta el 20 de junio 170€/ estudiantes 140€. Después del 21 de junio 225€/ estudiantes 170€. Acompañantes 50€ (incluye gastos de conferencia, pausas, material y dos recepciones de bienvenida)

Until 20 june 170€/ students 140€. After 21 june 225€/ students 170€. Accompaning person, visitor 50€ (this include conference fee, coffe breaks, conference bag and two welcome receptions)

fino al 20 giugno 170€/ studenti 140€. Dopo il 21 giugno 225€/ studenti 170€. Accompagnatore 50€ ( i prezzi includono la tassa di convengo, pausa cafe, materiale de due recepzioni di benvenutto.

PROGRAMA/PROGRAM/PROGRAMMA:

Introduction: Crisis has as long a history as the records that reveal to us the life of past societies. A number of the issues that now constitute ‘Europe at the crossroads’, as it is commonly seen in 2016, were present in antiquity, sometimes in quite similar but sometimes in utterly different forms. Back then, people likewise faced numerous threats to their life and livelihood, and felt the need to defend the social and political entities that defined them. They lived in a world of constant economic crises, wars, destruction of entire cities, migration, and social instability. The remedies for these pressing issues and their causes were the subject of public deliberation and theoretical reflection, in a constant search for a more stable and viable political order. Rather than simply idealizing the ‘wisdom of the Greeks’, this workshop seeks to identify those of the ancient experiences that can be fruitfully compared with the challenges lying ahead of modern Europe, along with their causes and proposed solutions. How, then, did the Greeks deal with their own crises? Given their political assumptions and realities, what would they have made of the ‘European experience’ today, and would their solutions be acceptable to us? Is there anything in particular in their answers that should now be followed or, to the contrary, avoided? The three main themes which emerge from these questions form the basis of our three panels. Panels – summary: In the first panel, ‘Crisis and society’, which discusses societal instability and its socio-political outcomes, our keynote speaker, Lene Rubinstein confronts the life of modern refugees, particularly women and children, with their ancient counterparts. She explores the abuse such individuals and groups faced in ancient Greece and investigates the emergence of political institutions of democratic Athens developed with the aim of protecting them. Brenda Griffith-Williams extends such comparisons to all migrants to examine the taxation of groups politically unrepresented in Athens and today due to their inability to vote, and discusses various forms of prejudice against them. Christian Thomsen explores the way in which the Greek world after 323 BCE changed from the community of citizens to that of inhabitants, where citizen status was no longer crucial to people’s shared identities, and tries to distinguish the reasons behind this change. Valentina Arena compares three ancient civilizations – those of the Near East (Hurrian and Hittite), archaic Greece, and Rome at the turn of the republic and Principate – and the way they approached societal crises linked to debt slavery through public discourse reflected in literary tradition. Finally, Georgina White debates whether Athenian liturgies, a form of private support for the state and communal activities, can serve as a model for contemporary ‘philanthrocapitalism’, and discusses its limitations. The second panel, ‘(Never-)ending wars’, is focused around the ubiquity of wars in the ancient Greek world along with the cultural changes that accompanied them and the proposed solutions to end various military conflicts, ancient and modern. Aleksandra Porada asks in her paper what is it that makes people rebel, and discusses the various answers to this question put forward by ancient authors by comparing them with theories in contemporary social sciences. Janek Kucharski discusses modern war crime legislation with reference to individuals who claimed to have had no choice during the short and bloody rule of a military junta of the so-called ‘Thirty’ in late 5th-century BCE Athens, asking about the extent of personal responsibility and the possible consequences of disobedience at that time. Anthi Dipla looks into the representation of women in the visual arts at the time of the Peloponnesian War, and investigates how the prevalent ideas about societal relations and gender roles may have changed as a response to military conflicts and social instability. Joanna Janik explores the ideas propounded by the 4th-century BCE thinker Isocrates for joint military expeditions and the common identity of all Greeks forged in opposition to the ‘barbarians’, and examines their possible implications for political discourse and practice. Lastly, Andrea Scarpato discusses the extent to which the idea of solidarity and international law can be successfully employed in interstate relations, based on a new interpretation of the dealings between Hellenistic empires. The third and last panel, ‘Redefining fundamentals’, explores ideological response to crisis and change and conceptual (re)foundations of the societies experiencing them. Mirko Canevaro asks whether we should extrapolate the modern pluralistic vision of democratic deliberation to ancient Greek democracies, where unanimity and consensus in public decision-making were crucial factors in political thinking and practice. Luca Asmonti traces Athenian democracy to the present day by analysing the ways in which its myth has been exploited in redefining the European identity in the shadow of the current financial crisis. Jakub Filonik discusses the key differences between the ancient Greek and modern conceptualizations of freedom in a democracy and their role in emphasizing people’s identities in political rhetoric. Michał Bizoń explores the extent of the ‘political’ in Plato’s Republic and how his concepts of degeneration of constitutions, freedom, and soul may be relevant to modern political thinking. In the finale, Michał Zacharski investigates the notion of mens rea (‘guilty mind’) in various modern legal systems and identifies the problems it entails by comparing it to the conceptions of intentionality present in the laws of ancient Athens.

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