Italy, Acquapendente

Walling: breaking and barring reality, creating an unreal state and the absurd with to overcome it

when 26 June 2016 - 2 July 2016
duration 1 week

Contemporary challenges related to borders and encirclement, such as colonisation, migration, integration, can only be understood properly in a long-term perspective. This summer school however, seeks to go beyond even conventional definitions the long dureé by going beyond the early modern period, to locate this social practice of walling and encirclement, in the context of human history as a whole, integrating insights from archaeology and anthropology also. Such an approach, far from being esoteric, or simply academic is crucial, as it’s focus on origins helps to locate the essential dynamics in this practice, and provides a rare external position from which to view this phenomenon. Being within the modern world as we are, with its essential characteristics of the borders of nation states, and the enclosures that disciplinary spaces effect, it is very difficult to gain critical distance and detachment to see outside of conventional perspectives. The unique perspective of this summer school aims to offer an antidote to this.
Since the Neolithic, with the first encirclements analysed classically by Lewis Mumford man has chosen a form of self-protective isolation, as if walling out the troubles could secure development inside. However, it only resulted in inciting the hunger of robbers. Still, with increasing settlement more and more walls were built, increasing isolation, insecurity and a mutual lack of understanding: self-protection and efforts to conquer others grew jointly. Thus, will physical protection offer comfort and normalization, or a heightened and false sense of security?
The purpose of this summer school is to explore contributions in various fields of political anthropology and related disciplines to understand Walling or Encirclement. It will be relevant for graduate students in sociology, political science and anthropology.
Confiscating others eventually grew into an utilitarian universalism, where enclosure within walls jointly stimulated a spirit of entrepreneurship and conquests, strengthening an insular community spirit (at the expense of other communities), and the satisfaction individual desires. Given the walls, energy was entrapped, accumulated, and thus eventually had to be oriented in an aggressive manner towards the outside. As Goethe formulated it in Faust II, ‘warfare, business and piracy/ These three are one, cannot be separated’, This was the start of various conquests and colonizations, but of course meeting with the similar aims of the ‘others’. Growth and expansion increasingly lost its own inner foundations, and turned into the acquisition of the forces of the others.
A situation of crisis produces feelings and experiences that are easily intelligible. Under tension and threat our sense of security quickly, almost instantaneously evaporates, and usually produces two opposite states: one is paralysis or palsy, the inability to do anything, a resignation to fate; the other a frenetic search for a model that would solve the crisis. The latter state itself has two opposite animating forces: rational thinking, an intensive activity of the mind; and imitation, where suggestions that seem to offer a way out could be suddenly followed, alongside a spiral, by ever increasing number of people. At any rate, any crisis usually drastically changes the personality and identity of those undergoing it. If the model seems to work, people adapt it in the long run; it is in this way that people who previously walked became settlers. They found their sense of security no longer in their own qualities (this is what can be called as a ‘first power’), rather in the walls and in those ‘others’ inside the walls, thus is sheer objects and numbers, and then attempted to impose their own security on others, usually with the help of violence. The concrete human being became less and less important, while general, abstract, collective goals and desires became dominating. This logic of subordinating the concrete for the general became codified in sacrificial rituals.
The building of walls only ever produces illusory, ostensible, virtual results. The wall closes off, blocks and obstructs, making one blind to whatever is left outside is and ignore what these others intend to reciprocate. The concrete as the only token of reality evaporates, fading away, as a purportedly universal solution is offered to any delicate question. The wall blocks our ability that is necessary for living: to look around, to perceive, to comprehend, to investigate, to search for understanding and explanation. It produces a paranoid vision of the world, in which whatever falls outside the wall is transmogrified and demonised into something threatening and terrifying, justifying the ever renewed and necessarily failing efforts to exterminate it.
The 2016 International Political Anthropology Summer School will focus on the constitutive, inevitable links between this kind of dangerous expansion that walling represents, and the spread of uncertainty and the giving up of inner strength by which man is able to govern itself that accompanies it.

Application deadline: 15 May 2016
Summer School Staff: IPA Editors
Guest Speakers: Armando Salvatore (McGill) confirmed; Emilio Santoro University of Florance); Richard Sakwa (University of Kent) confirmed; Glenn Bowman (University of Kent) confirmed; Arvydas Grisinas (University of Kent); Marius Bentza (UCC).

Contact number: Diletta Tonatto +393 458.060.926, diletta.tonatto@gmail.com; Arpad Szakolczai +393 884.074.157

Course leader

Dr Agnes Horvath

Target group

Ph.D students in the fields of Sociology, Anthropology, International Politics. In some cases we also accept Master students, upon successful application.

Credits info

5 for attendance, 10 if also finishing a 5000 words paper

Fee info

EUR 0: Costs: the Summer School will have no fee except a small registration fee (45Euro, not refundable). Following even in this sense the spirit of Plato’s Academy, the philosophy of this summer school is to minimize the involvement of the circularity of money in academic life. The School will be self-supporting for meal and drinks, with free donation for the accommodation. Everyone should bring a sleeping bag.