CFP of the conference “Metaphors of Masses, Crowds, Swarms, and Multitudes in Central and Eastern Europe, 1920’s/2020’s”

Dora Keresztury's picture
Call for Papers
September 7, 2023 to September 9, 2023
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Contemporary History, Cultural History / Studies, Humanities, Philosophy


Metaphors of Masses, Crowds, Swarms, and Multitudes in Central and Eastern Europe, 1920’s/2020’s


Conference of the Research Project “The Crowd. Cultural Attributions of Meaning 1920/2020” (NKFIH OTKA_K-137650)

Hosted by the Faculty of Humanities at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

September 7-9, 2023


The surging and the dispersing crowd, the destructive and the organised crowd, the intelligent swarm and the savage herd, the “smart mob” and the global multitude: many attempts have been made to conceptualise the phenomenon of the crowd, and many examples show how different attributes and metaphors give specific meanings and significance to the diverse aspects of the phenomenon of the crowd.

Focusing on the Central and Eastern European region, the conference will explore the hypothesis that, on one hand, the post-World War I conjuncture of notions sharpened the distinction between the organized and the uncontrollable mass of people, primarily due to the rise of political mass movements and to the experience of the war. On the other hand, the more differentiated terminology in contemporary theoretical discourses seeks to take a more emphatic account of the scale, internal dynamics and structural laws of the crowd. This shift can be seen, among other things, in the modification of animal metaphors, whereby animal attributes first tended to be used to describe a wild, violent, uncontrollable mass, but, in our days, they rather refer to a crowd having mobile centres and being capable of intelligent actions. The metaphorological approach developed by Hans Blumenberg and the conceptual-historical method of Reinhart Koselleck can serve as a theoretical model for describing this shift.

Topics of interest, both in historical and contemporary perspective, include, but are not limited to:

- urban crowds and the appropriation of public space, perception and self-perception of the crowd

- traces of the shift from the crowd to the multitude and its political implications

- concepts of communities and collectives in social theory and psychology

- conceptualizations of masses in theories of mass and popular culture


Distinguished speakers:

Cornelia Wild, University of Siegen

Karsten Lichau, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin


Please submit your 200-word abstract and a short biographical note by March 24, 2023. Participants will be notified by April 3, 2023.

Submissions should be sent electronically to:




Contact Info: 

Dóra Keresztury

Research Assistant, Eötvös Loránd University