Session: #178

Theme & Session Format

5. Assembling archaeological theory and the archaeological sciences
Session format:
Regular session

Title & Content

Between Autochthonism, Marxism and Turboslavism: Concepts of Slavs and Slavic Origins Through Space and Time
“The Slavs” of the past are associated with a national idea that may relate to ethnicity, an individual state or Pan-Slavism. Academic conceptualizations of the Slavic people(s) and their origins spanned into a wide range of disciplines from early on, including archaeology, linguistics, historiography and physical anthropology. Even now a whole variety of approaches and results are negotiated in academic discourse, while neo-romantic concepts of Slavic identity and ancestry undergo a growing revival in different public fields, be it populist propaganda or popular culture. Often they seek to ground national identity in ancient ethnic origins, like turboslavist creations of a Slavic past that interlocks scholarly knowledge production with identity and memory politics, old and new nationalisms, neo-pagan spiritualization as well as references to DNA data in order to locate ethnic origins. Where there is a growing idea to “make Slavs great again”, it seems largely based on outdated academic concepts and often lapses into pseudoscience.
Approaching and reflecting different understandings of “the Slavs” as well as the changing ideas tracing their origins and continuity, can disclose similarities and differences in scientific conceptualizations and constructions as well as public narrations and visualizations of Slavic identity. The organizers would like to form a dialogue with scholars within scientific and public discourse to explore the representation of Slavs and Slavic origins in academia and beyond approaching complex questions of collective identity. The session aims to enable a reflexive discussion on the entanglements of scholarly perspectives, public representations and political use of the Slavic issue, from autochthonist-allochthonist dichotomies, Nazi counter narratives, to communist rule and Marxist interpretations up to current megalomaniac phantasmata built on pseudoscientific and nationalistic notions. All contributions related to the topic are welcome, referring to diverse regions, historical periods and the present, to different political systems and social contexts.
Slavs, Slavic Origins, History of Archaeology, Turboslavism, Autochthonism, Marxism
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Main organiser:
Karin Reichenbach (Germany) 1
Monika Milosavljević (Serbia) 2
Zenta Broka-Lāce (Latvia) 3
1. Leibniz-Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO)
2. Departement of Archaeology, University of Belgrade
3. Institute of Latvian History at the University of Latvia