The CITAS Brownbag Sessions offer a platform for international visiting scholars as well as colleagues working in Regensburg to present their research in a more informal setting over lunch. Colleagues and students from across the disciplines with diverse regional specialisms are welcome to attend and meet researchers from around the world.
CITAS has collaborated with a variety of partners in Regensburg in organising the events. Audiences are welcome to bring their lunch and enjoy it during the talks, once in-person events are possible again.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, most of the sessions were online but we are pleased to be gradually returning to a full programme - including being able to eat and drink during these events.
Join Professor Mukherjee in conversation with Guido Hausmann and Borbala Zsuzsanna Török as they discuss colonial imaginaries, cartography, concepts of the Global North and Global South and their significance for area studies. 27.09.2022, 14:00 at CITAS (SG.214).
This informal meeting will give students, researchers and faculty members in Regensburg an opportunity to meet Prof. Mukherjee. She is in Regensburg as part of the workshop State Descriptions Revisited: Historical Forms of Territorial Representations, 18th - 21st Centuries, organized by Guido, organized by Guido Hausmann and Borbala Zsuzsanna Török. They will chair a discussion and Q&A with Prof. Mukherjee, discussing her work on spatial imaginaries of colonialism, as well as the broader theses of historical representations of states and her perspective on the controversial but widely used division between the Global South and the Global North. This is a key issue likewise for Eastern European Studies, a field that addresses the fluidity of regional identities and boundaries.
Professor Nilanjana Mukherjee teaches English Literature at Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She is the author of the book, Spatial Imaginings in the Age of ColonialCartographic Reason: Maps, Landscapes, Travelogues in Britain and India(Routledge: 2020). She has also co-edited the volume, Mapping India:Transitions and Transformations 18th - 19th Centuries (Routledge: 2019). At present, she is working on two projects: first, a creative biography of her grandfather, Ardhendu Prasad Banerji, a Bengal School Artist at the time of the nationalist movement in Bengal; and second, a study of the Indian Desert as a spatial imaginary in its evolution as a frontier zone in North-West India.
When? Tuesday, 27 September 2022, 14:00-15:00
Where? Sammelgebäude, SG.214 (CITAS)
In the section below you can find descriptions of past Brownbag Sessions.
In this session, Nishani Frazier – Professor of history and American studies at the University of Kansas and REAF/Leibniz ScienceCampus Visiting Fellow – will discuss some ideas on how to present empirical research findings using the formats offered by digital humanities. She will explore the practices and platforms that are open to researchers who would like to take their work from paper-based formats into the digital realm. She will reflect on her own experience in this field, with her 2017 monograph Harambee City: Congress of Racial Equality in Cleveland and the Rise of Black Power Populism accompanied by an extensive online project featuring oral history interviews, source materials and interactive elements, such as maps and teaching materials. Her research on (anti-)gentrification has furthermore resulted in the Gentrifcation Project database, a gateway for activists, city residents, investigators, and non-profits united in a cohesive, integrated, and an intentionally designed program for anti-gentrification action. In the course of the workshop, Nishani Frazier will also suggest how to conceive of projects from the outset as contributions to the digital humanities. She will also touch upon questions relating to research ethics in digital humanities, aesthetics – including Black aesthetics, and how digital humanities can be used to promote social justice and reach broader audiences beyond academia.
This masterclass is open to all members of the UR and IOS communities, from students through doctoral and postdoctoral researchers to professors. No prior experience in the digital humanities is required. As part of the CITAS Brownbag format, you are welcome to eat your lunch during this session and the organizers will provide some drinks and small snacks.
Organized by REAF, Leibniz ScienceCampus Europe and America, and CITAS
CITAS is pleased to invite you to the first of a triple bill of Brownbag Lectures in June 2022. With the gradual lifting of COVID restrictions, we are pleased that we can again offer some drinks and snacks during these lunchtime lectures. You are also welcome to fulfil the idea behind the name of the series by bringing your own lunch (not necessarily in a brown bag) to enjoy during the talk with international guests. All the talks take place at CITAS, Room 214 in the Sammelgebäude tower.
On 29 June at 12:15, Noah Bender, a visiting doctoral student at UR and IOS from the University of California, Berkley, will present his research on “Agents of Globalization: Shipping Companies, Labor Recruiters, and Landlords in the Making of Global Migration, 1870-1930”. More details below.
Noah Bender (Berkeley)
Agents of Globalization: Shipping Companies, Labor Recruiters, and Landlords in the Making of Global Migration, 1870-1930
Noah Bender is spending June and July in at UR and IOS as a visiting researcher on the Berkeley-Regensburg Doctoral Exchange Program, supported by the Regensburger Universitätsstiftung. He will be collaborating closely with Ulf Brunnbauer while here and also looks forward to establishing contact with other colleagues and doctoral students.
In his talk, Noah Bender will discuss how German and international shipping companies were involved in the formation of the Hanseatic Colonization Society with the aim of facilitating recruitment of labourers to work on land purchased in southern Brazil. His research explores aspects of the competition over labour that emerged between German landlords back home and those seeking to establish the South American colonies. He also considers how such episodes reflect on the relationship between states, private companies and individuals as part of the formation of globalization and migration regimes. He argues that never simply neutral conduits of global interconnectivity, steamship lines indiscriminately fomented migration to countless destinations, which delivered profits far exceeding those on freight. Across Europe, meanwhile, the deluge of shipping agents and foreign recruiters provoked a backlash from commercial farmers, who had been buffeted by world markets and now faced a depleting labor force and rising wages. Simply put, even unskilled labor was a desperately sought commodity in a world awash in land and capital. From the First World War arose a wave of democratization across the globe, which led directly to immigration restrictions as the masses exerted unprecedented control over policy.
Please find a more detailed abstract here.
Noah Bender is a doctoral researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a historian of 19th and 20th century Europe, with special focus on Britain, Germany, and the Habsburg Empire. His dissertation charts the rise and fall of shipping companies as conductors of the transatlantic emigration. He argues that the liberal international economy of the late nineteenth century, in which people circulated as easily as goods and capital, allowed new, vertically integrated shipping conglomerates to seize control of the Atlantic migration system. He is also interested in European agricultural history, and the political lobbying of the agricultural sector in particular. He graduated with a BA in history from Rochester in 2017 and an MA in the same subject from Berkeley in 2020.
On 15 June, the talk takes place at 14:15 and will be given in German by Thomas Schmidt, Associate Professor in Critical Journalism Studies, at the University of California, San Diego. In his lecture, “Vom New Journalism zum Storytelling: Erzählerischer Journalismus in den USA” he will discuss aspects of his research that contributed to his book Rewriting the Newspaper: The Storytelling Movement in American Print Journalism (University of Missouri Press, 2019). In the talk, he will examine how between the 1960s and 1990s, there was a notable shift towards literary journalism and reportage in US-American newspapers, with texts marked by emotional engagement, literary flourishes, and narrative techniques of storytelling becoming part of mainstream journalistic practices. An abstract (in German) of the talk can be found on the German Brownbag page.
Thomas Schmidt graduated with a Magister from Vienna, before taking an MA and PhD at the University of Oregon. He has taught and published on the history of US journalism, global comparisons of media systems, and on recent transformations of media literacy through digitization.
On 22 June at 12:15, there will be a talk in French – with simultaneous German translation – by Éric Bédard, Professor of History at TÉLUQ (the open university of Quebec). In his talk, he will discuss the origins of French settlement of North America, focussing on what relations between Europeans and the indigenous population at that time mean for efforts towards reconciliation with the First Peoples in Canada. Éric Bédard is a visiting professor at the Romance Studies department of UR, who was invited by PD Dr. habil. Dagmar Schmelzer. This will be accompanied by another talk on 23 June and a series of films relating to Québec on 24 June. For more details see the German page.
When? Weds, 4 May 2022, 12:15-13:45
Where? SG.214 (CITAS-Office)
This presentation offers an outline of the project Historical Narratology and Spatial Chronicles: Narratives of origin and foundation in 15th century vernacular chronicle writing based on the example of Old Bavaria. It is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and based at the Chair of Medieval German Studies at the UR. In this Brownbag Session, we will focus on aspects of our research that might provide foundations for transdisciplinary models of interest to other fields. Precisely because the texts we consider come from a period of transition between the Middle Ages and the Modern, where beyond physical movements and actions embodied in a particular conception of space (equivalent to “street view”) there also emerged something akin to a bird’s eye view of mapped spaces (equivalent to a “map”), the chronicles reveal in statu nascendi the wealth of preconditions and implications that are considered self-explanatory in current notions of space (and as such, are no longer explored critically).
Methodologically, this presentation of our research on the Old Bavarian vernacular chronicles draws, on the one hand, on the historicization of the media philosopher Sybille Krämer’s concept of the ‘flattening’ (Verflachung) of space as well as on de Certau’s conceptual differentiation of lieu (map) and espace (parcours). On the other hand, it also provides a comparative perspective on socio-geographic research on East European History, especially work on sources – some produced at the same time as, some earlier than, the Bavarian sources - describing space in Prussia (or the lands of the Teutonic Order).
Selected case studies from the Bavarian vernacular chronicles reflecting origin stories about Bavarians or Bavaria, as well as the founding myths relating to the City of Regensburg and Tegernsee Abbey, will illustrate processes that in the course of the fifteenth century – stemming from the reversal of the dominance of time over space, a key element of the future-oriented modernizing dynamic – resulted in the diversification of conceptions of space. We argue that this process was manifested in linguistic texts even before it was visualized in modern maps.
This presentation will be given by the DFG Projekt Team: Prof. Dr. Edith Feistner, Dr. Verena Ebermeier and Kim Wüstenhagen B.A.
On 15 June, the talk takes place at 14:15 and will be given in German by Thomas Schmidt, Associate Professor in Critical Journalism Studies, at the University of California, San Diego. In his lecture, “Vom New Journalism zum Storytelling: Erzählerischer Journalismus in den USA” he will discuss aspects of his research that contributed to his book Rewriting the Newspaper: The Storytelling Movement in American Print Journalism (University of Missouri Press, 2019).
When? Weds, 9 March 2022, 12:15-13:45
Where? Hybrid: Altes Finanzamt, Room 319 (Landshuter Str. 4) / Zoom: https://uni-regensburg.zoom.us/j/67369135758, Meeting ID: 673 6913 5758
This presentation analyzes the exacerbation and maintenance of social division through conflict and commemoration in four different European societies – Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, and the Basque Country. These societies all experienced intense inter-ethnic conflicts that made ethnicity more salient and turned ethnic understandings into oppositional forces, a trend which has been reinforced in the years since the conflicts have ended. As the Breakup of Yugoslavia, the Troubles, and the Spanish-Basque Conflict have moved further into the past, they have become essentialized into key mobilizing events that are the focus of the memorial cultures of each respective community, which set (often literally) in stone the divisions from the conflicts, transforming them into part of the daily lives of people regardless of their ethnicity. These divisions over memory also have immense consequences for politics, education, sport, and social and cultural life.
Blaze Joel is a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley in History. He will be in Regensburg from 15 February to 31 March. His research focuses on nationalism, memory, violence, and national identity in twentieth-century Europe. He studies these issues in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Northern Ireland, and the Basque Country, as well as in an international, trans-European framework.
The Regensburg-Berkeley Doctoral Exchange Program is supported by Universität Regensburg, the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, CITAS, Regensburger Universitätsstiftung, and the Institute of European Studies (IES) at the University of California Berkeley.
When? Weds, 20 October 2021, 12:15-13:30
Where? Vielberth-Gebäude VG1.31 or online via Zoom: 698 5795 1660
Organized in cooperation with the Leibniz-Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS) and the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies
Among Eastern Europe’s postwar socialist states, Yugoslavia was unique in allowing its citizens to seek work abroad in Western Europe’s liberal democracies. This book charts the evolution of the relationship between Yugoslavia and its labour migrants who left to work in Western Europe in the 1960s and 1970s. It examines how migrants were perceived by policy-makers and social scientists and how they were portrayed in popular culture, including radio, newspapers, and cinema.
Created to nurture ties with migrants and their children, state cultural, educational, and informational programs were a way of continuing to govern across international borders. These programs relied heavily on the promotion of the idea of homeland. Le Normand examines the many ways in which migrants responded to these efforts and how they perceived their own relationship to the homeland, based on their migration experiences. Citizens without Borders shows how, in their efforts to win over migrant workers, the different levels of government – federal, republic, and local – promoted sometimes widely divergent notions of belonging, grounded in different concepts of "home."
Citizens without Borders appeared in 2021 with University of Toronto Press.
Brigitte Le Normand is associate professor in History at Maastricht University. She is currently a visiting Humboldt Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS). She has published extensively on migration and guest workers, and urban planning under socialism, with her first book Designing Tito’s Capital appearing in 2014. Following at PhD at UCLA she was an associate professor at the University of British Columbia Okanagan.
When? Weds, 12 January 2022, 12:15-13:30
Where? Online via Zoom 645 8515 9167
In the face of the global rise of migratory movements, authoritarianism, and racial violence, this talk examines contemporary literary and visual child migration narratives of transcultural borderspaces that transcend national borderlines, and turn into deterritorialized and necropolitical zones of exception with diminished constitutional protections. Drawing on selected examples of documentary, fictional, and poetic imaginaries of child migration, I hone in on the current border crisis as it plays out in U.S.-Mexican borderlands from the perspective of child refugees. Their cultural narratives negotiate—and often critique—the extrajudicial enforcement practices and politics enacted in transnational borderzones, in which “distinct national localities are linked together by migrant flows, and the diaspora formed by this migration” (Schmidt Camacho 2008, 5), and that are increasingly militarized and policed by border technology. Away from the economic precariousness, government corruption, crime, and environmental instability of the global South and towards the domestic battles of the North—and often back again by way of deportation—I argue that migrants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras experience what postcolonial theorist Trinh T. Minh-ha calls the “elsewhere [that is] within here.” This ‘elsewhere’ takes place both while migrants pass through a hostile Mexico and arrive at the U.S. southern border, before they enter a U.S. that denies them basic human rights, including the freedom “to move freely from one place to another” (Sheehan 2018, 4).
Julia Faisst is Professor for American Studies at the University of Regensburg (deputizing for Prof. Dr. Udo Hebel). Following undergraduate studies in Munich, Yale and Berlin, she completed a PhD at Harvard, followed by a Habilitation degree at Eichstätt-Ingolstadt. Her research interests include postcolonial, migration, and diaspora studies, visual cultures, and 19th to 21st century North American literature and culture.
As part of the fellowship program by the Leibniz WissenschaftsCampus Europe and America in the Modern World, we proudly present Christiane Reves, lecturer in the German group at the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University.
Dr. Reves will present examples from research and teaching: from "ecologizing" the curriculum, virtual internships, community partnerships to interdisciplinary and transnational research. She will talk about ideas on local and regional history (Landes/Regionalgeschichte) in the transnational context and introduce the interdisciplinary research project on faith-based responses to migrants and refugees in comparative urban spaces, a comparison between Phoenix, AZ and Berlin, Germany. After a short presentation, there will be time for questions, discussions, and vision casting. More information about the comming talk you can find here.
When: June 21st 4:15pm
As part of the program for international guest speakers by the Leibniz WissenschaftsCampus Europe and America in the Modern World, we proudly present Chloé Chaudet from the Centre de Recherches sur les Littératures et la Sociopoétique (CELIS) of the University Clermont Auvergne. On June 21st at 12 pm Chloé Chaudet and Sebastian Herrmann (visiting professor at the chair of American Studies of the University Regensburg) will speak about conspiratorial fictions in Europe and America. Jonas Hock und Carmen Dexl will moderate the Session.
6 Nov 19
Amin Afrouzi spoke at the Brownbag Sessions as a visiting doctoral fellow of the Regensburg-Berkeley Doctoral Exchange Programme. After graduating from UC Berkeley and a year of studying German language and literature in Berlin, Amin completed his first master’s degree in Philosophy at Oxford University and his second master’s degree in Classics at Cambridge University. He then returned to Berkeley to pursue a doctoral degree at UC Berkeley School of Law.
His two-month stay in Regensburg was funded by the Regensburg University Foundation (Regensburger Universitätsstiftung). While in Regensburg, he collaborated closely with the Chair of Practical Philosophy Prof. Dr. Weyma Lübbe.In his Brownbag Session talk, Amin examined the potential practical and ethical impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning for legal processes, both in the United States and globally. He examined the potential for machine learning to tease out legal precedent and ensure appropriate sentencing. At the same time, he considered the grounds for moral and ethical opposition to the expansion of the use of these methods.
His thought-provoking discussion inspired extensive discussion involving students, doctoral researchers and senior faculty. The discussion in particular addressed the implications of expanding the use of such technology in the context of developing nations. The participants also considered how existing biases and blind spots in the legal system could be exacerbated by machine learning and artificial intelligence, as algorithms and decision-making programmes draw on the existing archives of legal opinion.
In the context of CITAS’ research interests, the Brownbag Session with Amin offered the important insight that systems and norms that make claims towards universality – in this case both technological infrastructure and legal systems – are ultimately refracted and transformed through the local conditions of their implementation.
27 Nov 2019
Frank Mehring is Chair of American Studies at Radboud University, Nijmegen. He came to Regensburg as part of the Erasmus+ programme. His contribution to the CITAS Brownbag Series was arranged in cooperation with the Regensburg European-American Forum (REAF). During his time in Regensburg, Prof. Mehring also held a workshop with doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and gave a fascinating lecture on the transnational contestation of a US-American memory of heroism, drawing on the WWII history of Nijmegen.
At CITAS, he presented his work on the biography of the artist and graphic designer Winold Reiss, who left Germany for the United States shortly before the First World War. He developed his career there, often coming to represent minority groups, such as Black Americans, while also developing a fascination with Mexico, which he considered more “colourful” and inspiring than the USA. Ultimately, Reiss experienced a degree of disillusionment with the American Dream while at the same time producing many representations of members of groups who were excluded from realising this dream.
The two key problems that Frank Mehring addresses in his highly engaging talk were, firstly, how to restore Winold Reiss to public attention today, in an age when self-representation of marginalized groups is desired, rather than representation by a white, heterosexual male; and, secondly, how to write a transnational and indeed transcultural biography of Winold Reiss, one that would account not only for his own life story that was inflected by transnational border-crossing but also for his encounters with diverse cultural groups that he depicted in his paintings and illustrations.
In the course of an engaging discussion, Mehring proposed a prismatic approach to writing Reiss’ biography, one that would reflect the multiple and intersecting spaces that the artist encountered and shaped. The traditional linear chronology of a biography would instead cluster around constellations of events, groups and people. Mehring hopes that this approach will ultimately enable the historicization of Reiss’ life story, enabling him and his works to re-emerge today in the full complexity of his age and in the tensions around representation of marginalized groups that shape public discourse today.
4 Dec 2019
Francisco Verdes-Montenegro is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the Centre for International Studies (ICEI) at the Complutense University in Madrid. He came to Regensburg as the first Visiting Fellow of the Leibniz ScienceCampus Europe and America in the Modern World, spending a month in the city collaborating with colleagues across political science, international relations and Spanish studies.
His CITAS Brownbag Session was attended by colleagues and students from across the disciplines, with part of the discussion also taking place in Spanish, giving the students an opportunity to test their knowledge of the language with a native speaker. The multilingual discussion demonstrated the cross-cultural communication entailed by transnational area studies.
In his talk and in-depth discussion, Francisco addressed the issue of the remilitarization of Latin American politics and society. Drawing on his own research and official statistics, as well as the visual material produced by political actors across the region, he found a common trend, regardless of the orientation of the particular regimes on the political spectrum. Left-wing and right-wing governments sought to legitimize their turn towards what Francisco called the “policization” of the army with reference to perceived transnational threats, such as “cultural Marxism” or “imperialism”. Ultimately though, the goal of the regimes, he argued, is, firstly, to project an image of sovereignty as guardians of the nation and, secondly, to quell any urges towards civil unrest by symbolic shows of power. The measures are aimed at domestic audiences, since there is no recent historical precedent of Latin American countries entering into war with their neighbours.
The discussion suggested ways of positioning trends in Latin America in the global context of populism and a shift towards using defence forces for civil matters as states of exception and potential threats come to normalize the use of the army on the streets, something that impacts everyday life and can further social divisions.
15 January 2020
In the final Brownbag Session of the 2019/20 Winter Semester, CITAS hosted Prof. Dr. Pia Wiegmink. She is deputizing for Prof. Dr. Udo Hebel at the chair of American Studies, having come to Regensburg from the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Mainz, one of Germany’s most dynamic centres in the field.
In her talk, she drew on research from her recently completed habilitation study, Re-Configuring the Nation: Transnationalism and Gender in American Abolitionist Literature. This event was organized in cooperation with REAF.
She examined the cultural as well as socio-political contexts that formed the interlocking discourses of sentimentalism, gender, antislavery, cosmopolitanism, print culture, and consumerism in the work of the American abolitionist gift book The Liberty Bell (1839-1859), whose popularity peaked in the 1840s and 1850s. Its transnational connections and impact were evident in that it inspired, for example, similar endeavors in the context of the abolition of serfdom in Russia and chiming with the rising reformist movement around the world. What formed, Wiegmink argued, as an “cosmopolitan affective community” that sought to celebrate, and mourn, comrades in the struggle for liberation from slavery, including in Cuba, while also connecting with activists in Europe. The gift book’s form was particularly significant in forming the community and discourse of “American abolitionist cosmopolitanism”. Poems or letters published in the same section in different issues formed a certain dialogue with each other and with the broader imagery of liberty. Equally, as a gift book the act of giving, even of a consumer product, generated a gift economy which markets sentimentalism for a political cause,
Pia Wiegmink’s engaging talk was followed by lively discussion that addressed whether the universalist claims of those involved in The Liberty Bell and the broader abolitionist movement were matched in the realm of representation. Indeed, few African-American voices were evident in print. Thus there was support for the slave and affection for the community of those lobbying for abolition, even if the community was formed in practice of reform-minded white Americans and their counterparts elsewhere in the world, highlighting the value of pursuing a transnational approach in American Studies while revealing some unexpected connections between the USA and Eastern Europe.
WEDS 24 July, 12:15, Sammelgebäude 214 (CITAS)
Robert Priest, Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at Royal Holloway, University of London, presented at the CITAS Brownbag Session during his visiting lectureship at the Chair of European History in Regensburg. He gave an outline of his ongoing project, a transnational cultural history of the Oberammergau Passion Play. He offered insight into the local, regional and national political and theological negotiations that shaped the actual performance in ‘Bavaria’s global village’, while also focusing on the transnational networks and cultural exchanges that made the Passion Plays into a phenomenon that resonated far beyond the Alps.
Starting in the late eighteenth century, when the Oberammergau performance faced a ban, Priest focused in particular on the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, locating the Passion Play in the context of the rise of international package tourism, mass media, and the invention of traditions and nation-building, especially the efforts to develop German unity across the Catholic-Protestant divide.
Adopting a case study-based approach for the presentation, he addressed the interconnections of the Oberammergau Passion Play with US-American debates at the turn of the twentieth century on antisemitism, French efforts to transfer the work and project images of rural purity at a time of industrialization, and how a British-American actress’s reappropriation of the Passion Play’s aesthetics challenged normative gender conceptions embedded in both the Catholic play and the London theatre.
The play’s international success and its contested reception in Germany and beyond shaped not only what appeared on stage but also life in the village, as its residents negotiated nation-building, modernity and globalization. Priest demonstrated through the case of Oberammergau the relevance of localized perspectives for global history, with the relevance of a comparative transregional approach apparent in his work. This brownbag session made clear the importance of further developing multi-scalar and multi-perspectival area studies for research on historical and present phenomena.
Robert Priest has been Lecturer in Modern European History at Royal Holloway since 2014. He studied at UCL, completed a doctorate in Oxford and was a Research Fellow in Cambridge. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Higher Education Academy. His research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of nineteenth-century Europe, expanding from a focus on France into a broader transnational framework.
CITAS BROWNBAG SESSION, 3 JULY 2019, 1215-1330 CITAS
The first CITAS Brownbag Session took place on 3 July with Goran Musić, who works for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Sarajevo and is currently a visiting research fellow at the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS). The Brownbag Sessions provide guest researchers in Regensburg with a forum to discuss their ongoing project with colleagues and students from across the university while enjoying lunch together. We are grateful to Prof. Dr. Ulf Brunnbauer for his support with this event.
Goran Musić presented his work on the expansion of the Priboj Automotive Factory (FAP) into Zambia in the 1970s. He positioned his work among current research that addresses “second” and “third” world globalizations, while also addressing their intersections with capitalist or “first” world economies. FAP also collaborated with Mercedes-Benz, while at the same time serving the ideological mission of expanding Yugoslavia’s geopolitical influence through the Non-Aligned Movement.
In his presentation and subsequent lively discussion, Goran Musić addressed the difficulties posed by the incompleteness of the archives in Yugoslavia and the difficulty in accessing materials from Zambia. The discussion thus highlighted an important methodological and practical issue in conducting comparative and transnational (area) studies.
In exploring the asymmetries of the impact of Yugoslav experts and technicians travelling to Zambia, on the one hand, and the impact of expansion into Africa on workers in Priboj itself, on the other, Musić highlighted that socialist globalization also entailed inequalities. Thus, the ideological motives and ideals, such as workers’ self-management, went largely unrealized. The discussion thus turned to a global and cross-temporal comparison with China’s current influence on the same part of Africa, which largely avoids the ideological superstructure in favour of economic relations.
Musić’s project and the discussion that developed in this initial Brownbag Session thus offered an excellent forum for exploring key issues related to the comparative and transnational area studies that forms a core part of research in Regensburg at both IOS and the University.