13 Feb 2009 - 14 Feb 2009All dayCRASSH


Convener:  Harald Wydra, St Catharine's College, Cambridge, hbw23@cam.ac.uk


The end of the Cold War and the era of globalisation have entailed important transformations in societies and states, and in their relations.  In an ever more interconnected and interdependent world gloablising tendencies have achieved more uniformity and identity within societies and across civilisations.  Conversely, the uncertainties created by globalisation processes have triggered new divisions and antagonisms, which in some cases produce desperate attempts to maintain old or create new differences.


Some of the questions this conference will address are the following:

  • can the dissolution of institutional structures and of cognitive and symbolic markers of certainty be met by abstract formulas such as modernisation, secularisation, state centralisation, or globalisation?
  • Is the ambivalence of liminality to be overcome from 'outside' by models of development and the disciplining power of norms, or does the liminal experience produce new ideas, meanings, and values from within?
  • Are liminal situations anarchical, chaotic, and irrational because they do not fit the rationally constructed forms of social equilibrium?
  • Is it possible that liminality itself carries internal logics, where the intensified emotions, social magic, and the reversal of hierarchies leads to transformation of conciousness, develops new ideas, and creates new symbols?
  • What is the extent to which aspects of the contemporary, taken for granted social, political, economic or cultural institutions are themselves products of liminal situations?

For administrative enquiries please contact apm50@cam.ac.uk





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