The first of a series of four workshops organized by WG2 Ideas in motion is associated with the festival Histoire et Cité, which takes place on March 31st 2020 in Geneva and is dedicated to “Fear.”
WG2 is interested in developing a better understanding of genealogies of concepts and categories in a decentered perspective, asking in which ways cultural entanglements, displacements and encounters contribute to such genealogies. In our workshops we will shed new light on various forms of cultural transfer, translation and appropriation that have fashioned the Mediterranean world and its real or imagined communities and geographies. A critical objective of our project is indeed to question the way in which the emotional experience of exile, distance, displacement, challenges traditional modes of thinking or religious traditions, transforms cultural perceptions and impacts the history of ideas.
The first workshop, revolving around a series of case studies, will be centered on the question of how migration, displacement or, more generally movement affects ideas about fear. Fear is part of the human evolutionary equipment to survive, to assert ideals, to do politics. Is it useful or is it an instrument of subjection and tyranny, of rejection and separation? What narratives exist about it? We will consider in particular how fear emerges as a topic of discussion both for displaced people and for the communities in which they enter. The fear of God will be an avenue of investigation, against the background of migration, conversion, religion and emotion. A second relates to the figures of fear such as enemies, monsters or more general Others. A third to the fear of nature and the elements: the sea, storms, foreign landscapes. Yet another avenue is that of bodily fears provoked by physical contacts, food, and diseases. And finally, fear as a political instrument is a central topic.