Course date

30 July - 10 August, 2001
Application deadline
15 February, 2001
Course Director(s): 

Roswitha Breckner

Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration, Vienna, Austria

Julia Vajda

Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Jozsef Borocz

Rutgers University, USA

Eva Kovacs

Institute of Central European Studies, Budapest, Hungary

Attila Melegh

University of Economics, Budapest, Hungary

Mihaela Miriou

National School in Political and Administrative Studies, Bucharest, Romania

Martin Peterson

University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Mihaly Vajda

Kossuth Lajos University, Debrecen, Hungary
Course objectives
The course aims to combine theoretical explorations of different concepts of identity from an interdisciplinary perspective (historical, philosophical, psychoanalytical, and sociological) with a workshop based on empirical exploration of east-west experiences and discourses. In the course participants will examine to what extent specific formations of identities are connected to the division between the so called "East" and "West". In this context we will analyze also the meaning of "East/West" as geographical and social spaces in different times in European societies. Concerning identity, there will be a special focus on the concept of the ‘other’ The course investigation will be based on interpretive methods (narrative interviewing, hermeneutic text analysis, photo and discourse analysis) which allow to reconstruct the interchange between concrete ‘experiences’ made by subjects in their life contexts and the (changing) public discourses. Thus, the course shall provide the participants with a practice based introduction into the use of a current research methodology and its methods giving access to the visible and less visible changes in social contexts and their representation in individual’s lives.
Objectives include:
  • providing an understanding of different concepts of individual and collective identity;
  • discussing specific aspects of east and west European societies which had developed after World War II and had a structuring impact on the different formation of biographies and identities in a comparative perspective;
  • discussing results from discourse analysis concerning specific images of the East and the West always from the opposite side. In what way imaginations of Us and Them are created, how and where are the cognitive walls erected or, in contrary, differences are minimized or even played down with what means?;
  • investigating experiences of people who had lived on both sides. The focus will be put here on East-West and West-East migration biographies. Narrations of people belonging to different generations, mainly those who had spent their lives until adulthood in the ‘East’ before 1989 and those who have experienced the changes in their youth, being now adult, will be compared.
Course level, target audience
The course addresses young academics, Ph.D. students as well as researchers and lecturers of any level. Participants should be interested in enlarging or deepening their knowledge concerning identity concepts and in particular their skills in the use of qualitative methods. Building on a basic knowledge in this field, acquired by studying one of the relevant disciplinary subjects (social psychology, social sciences, history, philosophy, anthropology, cultural and regional studies) the course is conceptualized on an introductory level. Priority will be given to participants who intend to use the discussed theoretical and methodological concepts in a running or planned empirical research project.