| ABSTRACTS | ACCOMMODATION
The organising committee of the conference invites proposals for
presentations at the CECT Sixth Autumn Conference. Interested
participants are encouraged to think about how their work addresses any
of the following themes listed below.
I: Revisiting key issues in the methodology of studying culture:
reflexivity, representation and experience
This panel invites scholars from diverse disciplinary backgrounds to
revisit and reflect upon recurring methodological issues in the study
of culture, many of which are furthermore tied up with epistemological
questions and ethical concerns. In the face of the recent interest of
the humanities in questions of embodiment, personhood and experience,
we ask how these concepts pertain to researchers’ own subjectivity as
well as their scholarly interests and choice of research methods.
The topic of reflexivity was brought to the foreground in
the social sciences of the 1960s and 1970s, mainly as a
counter-reaction to the so far dominant positivist programmes. However,
the characteristics that one can reflect upon by one’s (scholarly) self
appear to be unevenly accessible or highlighted. Reflections on one’s
disciplinary, methodological or theoretical identity are supported by a
set of texts and approaches that one can rely on while delineating such
identities. At the same time, it tends to be much harder to reflect
upon values and experiences one has acquired through being brought up
and living in a particular socio-cultural setting. Yet, it is often
those very characteristics of the researcher’s personality that are
exposed to other subjects in the field and that therefore determine
whether and how one is accepted by different members of the community.
Furthermore, when representing research results, some traits of the
scholarly self that mattered in the research process have to be
downplayed or pushed into the background and others exposed (above all
those relevant for disciplinary identity).
The same could be said about people encountered in the field
– when the researcher approaches and addresses them as people and not
merely as research subjects their portrayal and representation via the
chosen theoretical setting accentuates some of their characteristics
and contexts while others remain unreflected.
Topics and subtopics to be explored by panellists include but are not
limited to the following:
(scholarly) self as a source and tool in the study of culture
- using and expressing personal experiences as sources of knowledge;
- (re-)production of the researcher’s self in the course of research;
- the shared/diverging values and worldviews of the researcher and the
- ‘emotional understanding’ and ‘empathic reading’.
field and representations of the field
- creation and constant re-enactment of gendered positions in the field
(and in academia);
- transforming notions of the field and home;
- entering, exiting and re-entering the field;
- revisiting one’s own data/field, and re-intepretation – the
possibility of seeing new layers of meaning in old material;
representing the experiences of the researcher/people encountered in
the field via different media and genres (film, hypermedia, fiction).
Organisers of the panel: Kirsti Jõesalu (CECT ethnology);
Anne Kull (CECT religious studies); Riin Magnus (CECT semiotics); Pihla
Maria Siim (CECT folkloristics).
II: Negotiating embodied experiences
This panel focuses on embodied experiences which are
shaped by our relationships with other people and surrounding
environment, our everyday life and also our bodies’ physical
functioning. Panellists are welcome to discuss how corporeality
determines the limits of perception, shapes the content of human
experience in cooperation with culture, and how the bodily aspects of
individuals’ actions and interactions are socially structured.
Attention will be paid to the process of mediation and role of
intermediaries in the course of expressing and interpreting embodied
experiences in various contexts.
Bodily based experiences: borders, expressions, and transformations
The session aims to discuss bodily based experiences from different
perspectives of cultural research and addresses the concept of
corporeality. Embodied experience, the body in context and in action,
is a primary basis of how we perceive ourselves as cultural beings. The
way we make sense of embodied perceptions in turn may be shaped by ways
we communicate it to others. Questions proposed include:
- To what extent are bodily experiences determined by culture and,
vice versa, to what extent culture is determined by bodily experiences?
How do bodily based categories of perceiving the world and oneself
differ between cultures?
- How do techniques of the body, used in
various cultures, mediate religious and cultural identity? How do these
techniques cross temporal and spatial borders, and create new bodily
based affiliations and identities?
- How are bodily experiences and transformations reflected in
different folklore genres? What was the meaning of the stories and
songs that included the idea of transformation in the community where
brokerage: cultural intermediaries and interpretations
This session addresses the role of cultural intermediaries,
especially in cases of embodied cultural brokerage by individual agents
who mediate specific cultural practices and knowledge. In this
perspective the embodied performance of brokering is as important as
what is shared with others. We are interested in various strategies,
techniques and practices that are used for embodied brokerage in
various contexts (including, but not limited to tourism, museums,
festivals, workshops, etc.), considering the body as an active subject
that acts, not as a passive object to be acted upon. The questions
- How are individual characteristics of the personality and body
included in the process of embodied brokerage?
- How are subjective interpretations of cultural practices created in
the process of enacting?
- What kind of ethical challenges may arise from the embodied
interactions of cultural mediation?
Organisers of the panel: Ester Bardone, Maarja Kaaristo, Katrin
Alekand (CECT ethnology); Roland Karo (CECT religious studies); Merili
Metsvahi, Madis Arukask (CECT folkloristics).
III: Learning landscapes: stories, senses and sensitization
Landscape studies have recently seen a plethora of works
elaborating a phenomenological approach to landscape experience,
emphasizing the embodied and affective dimensions of being in and
moving through places. These studies have displaced the dominance of a
more constructivist approach, in which landscape experience was
understood to be essentially mediated by pre-existing images and
discourses. Phenomenological theorising has been criticised, however,
for being unable to conceptualise the power relations and
pre-configurations of experience that link the affective to wider
socio-cultural and economic spheres.
The aim of this panel is to explore the scope for a constructive
dialogue among different methodologies of understanding landscapes. In
particular, we attempt to find ways of bridging the gap between
embodied and mediated-constructional approaches to learning landscape.
Recently, this tension has been addressed in writings discussing the
multiplicity of landscape interfaces and labelled as
post-phenomenological, material-semiotic, post-structuralist,
more-than-human, etc. We would like to take this forward by probing
into the relationships between the ‘stories’ (representations,
narratives and performances), ‘senses’ (embodied experience) and
‘sensitization’ (attuning of experience in relation to particular
discourses) involved in coming to know landscapes.
We invite empirical and theoretical contributions that develop
an understanding of landscape experience grounded in the interplay of
structural and phenomenological approaches.
- How do people ‘learn’ landscapes? What role does directly
experiencing these landscapes play in this process?
- In what material and discursive processes is landscape learning
- How are stories and representations about landscapes negotiated with
- In what ways are direct landscape experiences sensitized before and
after the event?
How is embodied involvement in landscape, through work, residency or
leisure, informed simultaneously by seemingly incommensurate
perspectives, including those of maps, images and direct sensual
We expect papers that elaborate these theoretical questions based on a
range of empirical material including, for example, GIS-based studies
of landscape sensing, experimental physical and cognitive approaches,
affectual/emotional experiences, studies of landscape imagination,
pedagogical research, and landscape planning and management.
Organisers of the panel: Franz Krause, Kadri Semm (CECT landscape
studies); Tarmo Pikner (CECT cultural studies); Tiit Remm
IV: Dynamics between public and private
Culture is publicly available and privately experienced.
It is simultaneously intra-personal, inter-personal and extra-personal;
it exists, is stored and exchanged within, in-between and around
individuals. Culture and the individual, the public and private are
constantly co-constructing each other through various processes of
cultural mediation. Throughout these processes of mediation, private
experiences become externalised, publicly available, and public
meanings and values are internalised, and come to organise our private
lives. Yet these processes do not only mediate the public and private,
integrate the private into the public, but at the same time define and
shift the borders between them.
The panel focuses on the cultural processes of becoming public
and remaining private. Panellists are invited to discuss how the
public-private divide is constructed, demarcated, negotiated, and
crossed in media, arts, religion and landscape. Where are the hidden
borders and transitions between the private and public? When and how do
private experiences become public, enter into public space? What
remains private and outside public interest and access? What is the
role and relevance of private experiences and values in culture? How
are they revealed in the boundaries and dynamics of personal and
cultural basic values?
of private stories in public
- How are private stories mediated in public?
- Who mediates them and decides how and why private stories become
- What are the reasons behind publishing personal information?
- How have the conventions of telling personal life stories in public
media changed over time?
- What happens to private stories when they become public?
and dynamics of private and public in landscape
- How is personal space perceived and demarcated in culture?
- How do personal landscape experiences and stories merge into
- How does the emergence of private property change landscape?
- Interaction between private and collective value and valorisation of
between cultural and individual values and beliefs
- When subjectivity of value motivation grows into cultural
- What are the interrelations between values systems, self-conceptions,
cultural/social systems and contextual situations?
- Dynamics and stability of value change in individuals and
- How private are religious identities and how do people construct
Panel organisers: Halliki Harro-Loit (CECT cultural communication
studies); Katre Pärn (CECT semiotics); Anu Printsmann (CECT landscape
studies); Indrek Tart (CECT cultural studies).
V: Death as the transformation of personhood
The panel aims to investigate how death transforms the
personhood of the deceased as well as of the living, as death is
considered to be one of the most dramatic changes of human agency. In
the context of this panel personhood is understood as a
condition/relational state of being a person, involving constant
change, created, maintained and transformed through relationships with
humans, things, places, animals, and other semiotically constructed
entities. Conceptually personhood is understood as embracing various
modes of existence: selfhood, individuality, identity, subjectness.
Questions related to death and transformations of personhood will be
addressed from different perspectives of cultural research focusing on
their various forms in past and in present.
Various techniques of changing
the personhood of the deceased. Burial
rituals are expressions of various ways of changing or maintaining the
personhood of the dead person. As living people perform burial rituals,
it gives them opportunity to manipulate the status of the deceased. How
are mortuary practices and material remains affected by the personhood
of the deceased? And how do these rituals and remains thereof reflect
the deceased person’s identity?
Death as the transformation of
personhood in social relations. Although
dying is usually considered to be an individual and a private occasion,
burials and death takes place in social relations. The individual body
becomes the property of a society and through the change of the
personhood of the deceased and transformation of the system of
interpersonal relations the personhood of the grievers may also change.
Death is a rupture and transformation of social interpersonal
relations. How are social relations and personhoods transformed through
Dying and death as the
transformation of personhood against
the background of ultimate values. Death creates a new
the deceased for living people. Although the personhood of the dead has
many aspects in common, it could also differ depending on the previous
life of the deceased, on context, situation and ultimate values, for
example considering beliefs about an afterlife or various human
encounters with the dead. The transformation of personhood does not end
with a burial, it is a long process and the agency of the deceased can
live on through different media (literature, art, folklore, the
Internet, etc.). In contemporary and past cultures the topic of dying
itself is interpreted in different performative forms analysing basic
questions concerning human personhood.
Personhood in the face of death
and cessation. Awareness of
one’s own mortality as an individual or collective subject, reflexive
‘death-identity’ as a certain perspective in relation to the
ultimateness of existence in certain quality may be a powerful force
for transformation of personhood. Which semiotic regulators (e.g.,
ultimate values, images of death and afterlife) are activated in the
face of death? How is personhood self-transformed through death as a
regulative idea? How has the awareness of the probable end of the world
transformed individual and collective personhoods? Which practical and
symbolic activities are applied as preparations for the end of time?
Organisers of the panel: Pikne Kama, Kristiina Johanson (CECT
archaeology); Aili Aarelaid-Tart, Maaris Raudsepp (CECT cultural
studies); Kadri Ugur (CECT cultural communication studies).