Scaling and (Re)counting Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Round Table with Olessia Kirtchik (Higher School of Economics, Moscow), Borbála Zsuzsanna Török (Univ. Duisburg-Essen), Juraj Medzihorsky (London School of Economics), Vedran Duančić (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb). Moderation Lukas Becht (University of Vienna)
Organized by the initiative for History of Science in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe (HPS.CESEE) as a part of "Scales, Norms, Limit Values in Times of (Digital) Change" Joint annual meeting of the Society for the History of Technology (GTG) and the Society for the History of Science, Medicine and Technology (GWMT).
Thu, 16 September 2021, 18:00 CET / 19:00 MSK / 12:00 EST. Registration: http://tiny.cc/hpsceseeScales
Scales, norms, indexes and indicators play a crucial role in creating commensurability; however, they also produce incommensurabilities, make them visible, and can influence the comparata in reverse. This roundtable explores these dynamics at the example of the transformation of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe (CESEE) during the 1990s and will ask for its deeper discursive roots. Not only since 1989 did the commensurability of economic and other data facilitate international exchange relations (trade, for example, but not only), or change certain particularities at the micro level in the respective countries in very different ways. The discussion will explore the technical, institutional and political consequences of developing and adapting practices of counting in CESEE, in order to consider if and how these practices changed the region in conceptual and denominational terms.
From measures of social and economic "backwardness" and "advancement" to the various indicators of "progress" in the post-1989 social and political transformations, seemingly "neutral" and "objective" practices of scaling and indexing have a history which is closely linked to the constructions of regional particularities, disparities, identities. In turn, ideas of "backwardness" or "advancement" were employed by the former Socialist states in a similar manner in relations to their "Socialist brother states" in the Global South. On the other hand, 19th century positivists programmatically used the same buzzwords to argue for their reforms.
The roundtable aims at a critical historical examination of the particular role played by these knowledge practices with regard to CESEE. At the same time, it allows for a selfreflection of how historical and social science disciplines research and speak about the region. It will include both historical perspectives on ideas and practices of measuring and counting that originated in CESEE, and on their functionalities in constructing entities of research and knowledge production.
It raises questions such as:
- Which scales, norms and indicators make Central and Eastern Europe "countable"?- Where do they originate from historically? How and by whom are they used? How do they collect their data?
- How did scales shape the perception of Central and Eastern Europe, and by whom?- How did they encourage comparisons and how did they function within them?- How did they shape perceptions of "development", "modernity", "backwardness"?- How did they temporalize social realities by measuring, reinforcing changes?- How did they impact contributions to transnational scales and indicators?- How have scientific disciplines studying Eastern Europe made use of scales and indicators?
HPS.CESEE is an online platform about the history of science in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Our aim is to facilitate the exchange of information among HPS scholars in the region stretching from Prague to Perm and from Tallinn to Tirana. HPS.CESEE is a community project, which started in 2018: Please visit and send us your news in order to have them reach a larger audience! https://hpscesee.blogspot.com/
Organized by Lukas Becht (Vienna), Friedrich Cain (Vienna), Vedran Duančić (Zagreb), Adela Hincu (Bucharest), Daša Ličen (Ljubljana), Katalin Stráner (Manchester) and Jan Surman (Prague).