Call for Papers for the Interdisciplinary Conference CONTEXT AND CONTEXTUALIZATIONS

Monika Vakarelova's picture
Call for Papers
October 15, 2016
Subject Fields: 
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Contemporary History, Cultural History / Studies, Intellectual History, Philosophy


announces a


for the sixth in a series of international interdisciplinary conferences on the cultural history of contemporaneity. The subject of the conference is:


The conference is open to young and established scholars from Sofia University and elsewhere, as well as to people working in the sphere of culture and the arts. Papers on general topics within the thematic area of the conference are welcome, along with analyses and presentations of social case studies, specific research hypotheses, processes in philosophy, science and the arts, and art projects and works.

The conference will open on 6 December 2016 with a session at Sofia University, and continue on 7, 8, 9 and 10 December at the Centre Hotel in the Apriltsi resort (near Troyan). The official languages will be Bulgarian and English.

Application deadline: 15 October 2016

Applications, including the title of the paper, a 300-word abstract and a short bibliography, should be submitted electronically to

Expenses of participants from Sofia University (for travel, meals and accommodation) will be covered by the organizers. External participants are expected to cover their own expenses.

Here are some possible questions and lines of enquiry:


  • Is an integral theory of context possible?
  • Are there theoretical aporias related to the term “context”?
  • How is knowledge of context imagined, and how is it attained practically? Is “objective” knowledge of the context/contexts possible, or does it always depend on the perspective of the chosen research problem? What is the role of analysis, generalizations, the search for general patterns, and what is the role of practical intuition, wisdom, and intellectual experience?
  • Is it possible to speak of universal and situational contexts, and are there truly universal, determining contexts? Could globalization become a context, or is context always local? Doesn’t every local problem actualize new relevant contextual relationships, unlocking its “own contexts”? If we say that context is always local, isn’t this a tautology? How do contexts intertwine?
  • Contemporary relationship between fundamental philosophical approaches: universalism, scepticism, relativism, contextualism.
  • Contexts, theories, and hierarchies of knowledge. Are researchers from the peripheries by default merely providers of context to the grand theorists from “the centre”? How are the scholarly roles of collectors, analysts, theorists distributed?
  • The relativizing role of contexts with regard to morality and politics. Doesn’t historical context make moral universalism impossible and justify solely Realpolitik? What is the role of context in contemporary moral philosophy?
  • How does context give rise to “anti-context”: how is something separated and differentiated from the context? How does it become autonomous and emancipated from the web of relationships that has made it possible – becoming something else, an Event?
  • Are narratives still a privileged form of representing context? How do we narrate today, how will we narrate in the future? Are other, non-narrative techniques of representing contexts possible?


  • Upon what cultural and historical, technical and practical conditions does “context” begin to be spoken of?
  • The term “context” as a derivative of cultural and communicative situations of “lost context” that are related to print culture, telecommunications culture, digital culture.
  • Is the term “context” interpreted in the same way when referring to print, electronic, digital, and other such communicative contexts? Is it related to “spatial order”, and what happens with it when this spatial order is de-actualized (Virilio)? Examples of theorizations on the term “context” from various sciences: historiography, cultural history, anthropology, sociology, but also logic, pragmatics, computer sciences, cognitive science, etc.


Here we invite papers that give examples (to present case studies) of heuristic and in-depth contextualizations – historical, anthropological, art-historical, sociological, etc.


  • “Context today”: what is it, what do we refer to as “here and now”? How are we to describe the context we are living in today, how can it be identified and understood? What are its social, political, military, economic, philosophical, natural, and cultural forms and relationships, its boundaries? Is it possible to speak of an “integral contemporary context”, or does it break down into separate systems of relevances and plays of perspectives?
  • Which are the main determinants of the relevant context today? Is it identical to the technological environment we are immersed in, and is this environment a new, transformed Enlightenment in which instead of enlightening people we will be enlightening machines?
  • What has happened, and what is happening, with the “space-” and “posthuman” era? Is this our widest possible context? Do “eras”, “epochs”, “periods” and other such periodization terms bring us closer to the problem in question?
  • How are we to treat what some call “mixed reality” – the amalgam of virtual reality, augmented reality, and physical reality? What is this new context, and what are its cultural and political implications?
  • Is a new universalism possible today? What happened with “the end” and “the suspicion” of “Grand Narratives”? What could be the vehicle of a new “universal and shared” context, a shared “here and now”?
  • Are we living in a new political situation (beyond left and right), new political contexts – in relation to terrorism as well as in relation to the expected “mass migrations” or environmental changes?


  • Is it possible to speak of a national context today and to avoid the spectre of methodological nationalism?
  • What is the horizon of contemporary Bulgarian culture and publicity? To what extent are there universal problems and contextual solutions, or contextual problems and universal solutions in it?
  • What could be referred to as “local knowledge” in Bulgaria?
  • Do we have to transform “our contextual” into a universal contextual, and how is this actually done?
  • Is there an intra-national cultural blindness between groups, ethnic communities, religious communities, subcultures, and the relevant contexts through which they reflect themselves, self-identify, and act? How (and do) the different social communities and networks form a common context? What does “our own context” actually mean?
Contact Info: 

D-r Monika Vakarelova 

Coordinator of the conference "Context and Contextualizations"

Science Project Coordinator at the Cultural Center of the Sofia University "St.Kliment Ohridski"