Human Diversity in Context

Human Diversity in Context#

The Department of Humanities of the University of Trieste and the Academia Europaea (Hubert Curien 2018 fund), are linking up key research questions in the humanities and the social sciences. With the support of these two institutions, Prof. Ferrini will organize an international conference in Trieste on the topic of Human Diversity in Context on 25-26 September 2018.

Different competences and research fields based in the Humanities and Social Sciences Classes of the Academia Europaea are brought together as aspects of the study of the production and transmission of what the European societies have assumed and represented as ‘human’, in accord with shared research interests of the Department of Humanities of the University of Trieste. Scholars from classics and oriental studies, history, anthropology, literary studies, philosophy, social and cognitive sciences will meet to develop new strategies for integrating the form and content of knowledge, expressly for public benefit, by conveying socially contextualized knowledge and understanding of the complexity of the real world and its cultural and religious structures, facets and objects.

This conference will also exhibit possibilities of synergy between the pan-European network of the Academia Europaea and members’ local university institutions and research projects.


In the last decade European countries have been restlessly animated by national and transborder debates about issues of faith and tolerance; identity and difference; marginalization and integration; heterogeneity and homogenisation; individual freedom and social security, especially when confronting the increasing waves of forced migration, ‘ethnic cleansing’, extra-European immigration, growing minorities representing ‘other’ systems of belief (whether Islamic, Jewish, or animist, among others), issues of international and foreign policy and the organising of public opinion regarding forms of intervention (diplomatic, military, economic, legal) in ethnic conflicts at the borders of the European community.

However, projects recently funded by the European Research Council which confront a Europe that questions what is European about itself as well as a Europe that needs to be able to present itself in new ways to the other cultures and civilizations, seem to confine themselves either to exploring alternatives to the dominant theoretical and political thinking from the selected viewpoints of democracy, constitutionalism, economics and human rights, or at offering a ‘grammar’ of the differences in the set of values based on the single and general key notion of ‘modes of existence’.

The new 9th Framework Programme for European Research for the Social Sciences and the Humanities aims to address major research challenges, such as fostering the union of people through mutual respect and understanding within a paradoxical context in which signs of economic growth correspond to signs indicating increasing social inequalities, racial prejudices, and anxiety over the future.

The Human Diversity in Context conference will offer a multifaceted critical examination of the ways, tools and strategies through which European societies have historically envisioned and now confront, construct and conceptualize their perception, representation and evaluation of the difference-in-unity of mankind. The scope of the conference will range from the recognition and/or reconstruction of religious identities and the legal status of minorities, together with the formation of territorially bounded human collectives, to the analysis of wounded identities or competing regimes of memory, from the dialectical examination of processes of ‘othering’ to cultural and physical anthropological narratives and classifications of mankind, exploring which cognitive skills humans share and do not share with animals. On the whole, the conference will examine the definitions, varieties and limits of what has been assumed to be and represented as ‘human’ within Western processes of identifying and distinguishing themselves from (purported) others (‘selfing’) and its valuational diversity.

The organizer of the Conference has been the general research coordinator of the AE Humanities class project, ‘Human Diversity in Context: Processes of Othering, Constructions and Dynamics of Identities, Recognition of Valuational Difference in European Tradition’. By design, that project’s structure drew upon and sought to derive added value through coordination of existing research activities carried out by members of the AE Humanities and Social Sciences clusters (7 research leaders), with the participants’ own university institutions engaged as research deliverers and collaborators in the project (15 team members). A project that the main Foundations would not support as it was presented.

The present initiative draws upon a smaller AE inter Classes research group composed by Cinzia Ferrini (University of Trieste), Section ‘Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies’; Susana Onega (University of Zaragoza), Rosario Arias (University of Málaga) and Wolfgang Pross (Em. University of Bern), Section ‘Literary and Theatrical Studies Section’; Maria Paradiso (University of Sannio), Section ‘Social Sciences’; John Tolan (University of Nantes), Iván Zoltán Dénes (István Bibó Center for Advanced Studies of Humanities and Social Sciences in Budapest) and Olga Katsiardi-Hering (Em. National & Kapodistrian University of Athens), Section ‘History and Archaeology Section’.

Rosario Arias

Carmela Baffioni

Ivan Zoltan Denes

Cinzia Ferrini

Olga Katsiardi

Susana Onega

Maria Paradiso

Wolfgang Pross

Provisional Plan (TBC)#

DAY1 – Tuesday 25.09#

Morning 1: 9:00-11:00
Session 1: Ancient & Medieval History and Oriental Studies
9:00-9:30 – Opening (authorities, introduction)
Chair: Iván Zoltán Dénes

9:30-10:00 John Tolan (MAE, Univ. Nantes). “Legal construction and co-existence of religious and ethnic identities at the origin of contemporary European societies”
10:00-10:30 Carmela Baffioni (MAE, Lincei). “Paradigm of Coexistence of ethnical and religious diversity in medieval Spain: a case study

10:30-11:00 Discussion

Coffee Break

Morning 1:11:30-13:00
Session 2: Cultural Antropology
Chair: Cinzia Ferrini
11:30-12:00 Wolfgang Pross (Emer. Univ. Bern, MAE). “Assimilating reported natural histories of human diversity: theories on the nature of mankind”
12:00-12:30 Mario Marino (Univ. Cottbus). “Describing, measuring and classifying human beings: natural science and the birth of anthropology in the Age of Enlightenment”

12:30-13:00 Discussion

Working lunch

Afternoon 1: 15:00-16:30
Session 1: Physical Antropology and Comparative Psychology
Chair: Wolfgang Pross
15:00-15:30 Antonio Russo (DiSU). “Physiognomic and criminal anthropology: from Cesare Lombroso’s biological positivism to Enrico Ferri’s psycological and social positivism”
15:30-16:00 Cinzia Chiandetti (DSV). “How the evolutive continuity of cognition challenges antropocentrism and antropomorphism”

16:00-16:30 Discussion

Coffee Break

Afternoon 1: 17:00-18:30
Session 2: The understanding of otherness in Philosophy and Religious Sciences
Chair: Antonio Russo
17:00-17:30 Cinzia Ferrini (MAE, DiSU). “Overcoming the Immediate Externality of the Other: Hegel’s Lesson on Subjective Identity”
17:30-18:00 Gereon Wolters (MAE, Leopoldina, Em. Univ. Konstanz): “Constructing the Religious ‘Other’”

18:00-18:30 Discussion

DAY 2 – Wednesday 26.09#

Morning 2: 9:30-11:00
Session 1 - Societal and related sciences
Chair: John Tolan
9:30-10:00 Maria Paradiso (MAE, Univ. Sannio). “Dynamics of Integration (Citizenship) and Dynamics of Exclusion, Self-exclusion and Marginalization”
10:00-10:30 Iván Zoltán Dénes (MAE, Founder and President of the István Bibó Center for Advanced Studies of Humanities and Social Sciences, Budapest). “Usable Pasts of Divided

10:30-11:00 Discussion

Coffee Break

Morning 2: 11:30-13:00
Session 2 - Literary perspectives: Story-telling of Injured Identities in Contemporary Narratives in English
Chair: Tullia Catalan
11:30-12:00 Susana Onega (MAE, Univ. Zaragoza). “Tales of Wounded and Healed Identities”
12:00-12:30 Rosario Arias (MAE, Univ. Málaga). “Survivor Narratives”

12:30-13:00 Discussion

Working Lunch

Afternoon 2: 15:00-18:00
Conclusive Session: Contemporary Histories of Discrimination, Self-Identity and Diaspora
Chair: Susana Onega
15:00-15:30 Tullia Catalan (DiSU). “Imposing Racial Identities: Biological Anti-semitism and Nationalistic Identities”
15:30-16:00 Olga Katsiardi-Hering (MAE, Em. National & Kapodistrian Univ. of Athens). “Diaspora and Self-representation: The Case Study of Greek People’s Identity”
16:00-16:30 Paola Toninato (Ph. D. Warwick). “National Assimilation Policies and Ethnic Resistance: Resilient Construction of Identities in Nomadic Groups”

16:30-17:00 Discussion

17:00-18:00 Coffee break
Guided tour to the Jewish Museum Carlo and Vera Wagner

20:00 Conference Dinner

This event is open to participation by members of the AE and YAE. To comply with the organization schedule for the conference and the allocation of funds, applications to register and to be considered for (potential) defraying of travel expenses should reach Prof. Ferrini by May 15th 2018 and include a short statement of reasons to attend and participate in the discussions.#


Cinzia Ferrini
Department of Humanities, University of Trieste
Androna Campo marzio 10, 34100-Trieste
+39 3493996168

Trieste and its area: maps, itineraries etc.#

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