The Disciplines Series: The Idea of Development Malinowski's Children: East Central European "Betweenness" and Twentieth-Century Social Science

Academic: Conference
Event Location: 
Columbia University Morningside Campus The Heyman Center Second Floor Common Room
Date from: 
2014-05-16 12:45:00
Date to: 
2014-05-16 18:15:00
Workshop with pre-circulated papers.

Registration required by Monday, May 12, email 

This one-day workshop positions Eastern and Central Europe as a critical field for global modern knowledge by looking at the “betweenness” of East Central European intellectuals and their contributions to the history of social science in the twentieth century. Betweenness is here understood in both regional terms—that is, East Central Europe’s historic position as a culturally and developmentally ambiguous periphery of the West—and biographical ones, including experiences of exile, dislocation, and/or statelessness. As an analytic category, betweenness forges transnational histories among regions and countries (such as Israel or India) that based their global position and intellectual production on their liminality.

Such an approach re-illuminates the history of twentieth-century social science in important ways, reflecting James Clifford’s reminder that these disciplines were always part of the very “processes of innovation and structuration” they hoped to investigate. On the one hand, it highlights the seminal role of colonial subjects and stateless exiles like Malinowski and Znaniecki in generating early and influential—albeit highly contested—disciplinary models, suggesting that key narratives of social science history may be best understood from the margins. On the other, it illuminates how East Central and South Eastern Europeans have used their position between “West” and “East,” “civilized” and “savage,” and “first” and “third world” to mediate global regimes of knowledge.


Heyman Center for the Humanities

East Central European Center, Columbia University

Balassi Institute: Hungarian Cultural Center, New York

For further information regarding this event, please contact Violetta Tutunik by sending email to .
Contact Name: 
Violetta Tutunik
Event Contact Email:
Event Date: 
Friday, May 16, 2014 - 12:45 to 18:15