Conference Mendoza, 3-6 November 2010
“Cultural elements in social sciences and in academic labor – Epistemological and educational challenges constructing a scientific multi-versalism”
The era of globalization confronts social thought with a twofold paradox: Firstly, in the era of globalization knowledge about foreign societies and policies has gained importance, especially since the anticipated arrival of a “multi-polar” world makes knowledge about different regions indispensable. Due to the effects of globalization on the historically nationally constructed societies also local phenomena increasingly incorporate international dimensions requiring the internationalization of the social sciences knowledge production. However, due to their emergence in the context of nation states namely in Europe, the categories social science uses for interpreting social phenomena, have strong conceptual ties with particular nation states and their societal cultures. While countries and their societies beyond Europe to which the concept of nation state had been exported rarely gained the powerful tradition as nationally constructed societies as they did from where the concept originates, the concepts and categories of the social sciences that emerged in the context of the European national based societies have been spread over the world constituting the international standards of a scientific universalism.
Secondly, while the process of globalisation adjusts the economies of the societies on the globe to the standards of market economies, the very same adjustment of the economic standards raises the attention of those very societies to their particular identities interpreting globalisation through the perspective of the role they play in the globe, constructed via the roots of their individual histories and their distinctive cultural and political traditions. The reconfiguration of space and power through globalization necessitates the understanding of the peculiar social and cultural prerequisites of social thought allowing for divers interpretations of globalization and of the emerging new world order.
However, the need for diverse interpretations of the “Global” is confronted with the need to question the scientific foundations of a former worldwide acknowledged scientific universalism, constitutive of what has been considered as modern scientific knowledge, which, however, as Said has shown for the Asian societies, is often only the interpretation of the world through the eyes and the categories of a European social science perspective.
As a result, the need for multiple interpretations of the global does not only have to encompass the parochial categories of nation-based societies as their analytical framework allowing for internationalized scientific interpretations of the world, but also have to overcome the universalization of the Western parochial interpretation of the global, inevitably questioning the global validity of Western social science concepts, thus also eroding the established universal foundations of social science thinking.
If the SSH are to be global they must become open to a plurality of cultural realities and schemes of interpretation, without falling into cultural relativism. In this process it is very likely that they become reformulated and even transformed through multiple dialogues and interactions among the individuals, groups and institutions that generate and ultimately create a new social science world order. This creation of a new global social science world order will inevitably have to go through a phase of a scientific multi-versalism, encountering all the conflicts incorporated in the epistemological contradiction of a pluralism of universalisms.
The main objective of the workshop is to reflect on how to escape from local parochialism as a theoretical framework for interpreting the global, how to overcome the universalization of Western parochialism, its concepts and categories of social thinking hegemonizing the interpretation of the global, and how to begin to create and establish a bottom up scientific multi-versalism based on the different cultural standards of sciences and of academic labor.
Call for abstracts
- Please send your abstracts by the 30. April 1010.
- The abstracts should not exceed 750 words.
Topics for papers
- The papers should reflect on cultural elements in social sciences and in social scientists’ academic labour
- If possible, they should reflect on the issues in an international comparative perspective,
- discuss individual local phenomena from and towards a global perspective
- and allow for critical reflections of the concepts and theories dominating the field.
Topics to be addressed are
- Review and critical discussion of existing theories and research about issues related to the internationalisation of social sciences and humanities (scientific universalism, academic dependence, indigenous and scientific knowledge, knowledge and culture, etc)
- Fundamental reflections about the relation of culture and social sciences
- Concepts of culture and their applicability to social sciences
- Methodological implications of the diversity of concepts of social knowledge and academic labour
- Examples of cultural dimensions of social knowledge and academic labour
- Examples from intercultural scientific collaborations
- Unknown social science knowledge “behind the northern science and language walls”
- Theories, concepts and approaches to Higher Education in the light of global social sciences
- Encountering cultural elements in international collaborations: Implication for HE
- Scientific competencies for international scientific collaborations
Contact: Michael Kuhn
Web: www.knowwhy.net, blog