How is egalitarianism negotiated and enacted in marginalized groups? What are the possible egalitarian dimensions of anonymous commentaries on digital fora? How is egalitarianism reflected in questions of gender and sexuality? What are the egalitarian potentials of technology?

These are only a few of the questions raised at the kick-off workshop of the ERC-funded research project “Egalitarianism: Forms, Processes, Comparisons” that took place on June 2nd -3rd 2014 at the House of Literature in Bergen. 24 national and international researchers participated in an intense program, exchanging ideas and research findings related to the ambitious questions of concern to the project.

The broader aim of the first workshop was to facilitate general and open discussion on how to approach the research problem of Egalitarianism, initiating a conversation that will be continued through the five years of the project. Guiding the discussions was an aim to generate multiple ways into the field of Egalitarianism and to open up the many potential conceptual possibilities for research that the concept harbours.

The quest of the Egalitarianism project is to pursue not only tried perspectives but to introduce relatively new issues, perhaps urgent ones, that might concentrate research but which may not have received the attention they deserve given the fact that the current historical moment from most accounts is one of intensive transformation. For many the indications are that the predictions that many advanced concerning the futures of capitalism, for instance, are now at the cusp of their disastrous realization. For others, things are less bleak. New Paths and possibilities for humanity are opening up. If the future is still very uncertain, broadly things are on the improve and egalitarian possibilities that were part of dreams and fantasies have a chance of actualization. Such as well as other opposing views constituted the frame for debate throughout the meetings relating particularly to matters of theoretical perspective.



Monday 2 June:

Welcome – by Anne-Lise Fimreite, Pro-Rector of the University of Bergen,
Chair: Bruce Kapferer

Introduction: Thinking Openly About Egalitarianism
Bruce Kapferer
Chair: Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

10:30-10:45: Coffee break

Session 1: Key Statements of Overviews: Conceptual Frames, Issues and Problems of Egalitarianism
Jonathan Friedman: Globalizing Processes and Egalitarian Configurations
Don Kalb: The Counter-valences of Class in Europe
Joel Robbins: The Egalitarian Spirit of New Christianities
Annelin Eriksen: Gender and Sexualities as Egalitarian Reflections
Andre Iteanu: Egalitarian Ideology and the Individual as Value
Martin Holbraad: Contemporary Revolutions
Michael Humphrey: New Systems of Control and Corruption as Anti-Egalitarian Technologies

Open discussion
Chair: Bjørn Enge Bertelsen

13:15-13:45: Lunch

Session 2: Egalitarian Forces in Pre- and Post-Industrial Societies

a)    Egalitarianism and peasant and tribal society
Chair and Discussion Leader: Rane Willerslev

Rane Willerslev: Tribal populations as Egalitarian Ideal in Western Thought
Dinesan Vadakkinyil: Caste, tribal areas and Egalitarian Dynamics
Cecilie Ødegaard: Indigenous Socialities, Labour and Egalitarian Forces

b)    New and old egalitarianisms in post-industrial society in the context of the reconfiguration of work and labour

Chair and Discussion Leader: Don Kalb
Open discussion with Don Nonini, Don Kalb, Anette Fagertun and others

c)     Societies of control and forms of egalitarian challenge: Festival, ritual, street theatre
Chair and Discussion Leader: Allan Abramson
Open discussion

15:45-16:45: Coffee break and working out project ideas

Session 3: Technology and its Egalitarian/Inegalitarian Effects

Chair and Discussion Leader: Harry Rothman

Henrik Vigh: Anonymous Political Critique in Digital Media
Marit Melhuus: Biotechnological Vistas and the Reconfiguring of Egalitarian Possibilities
Harry Rothman: Egalitarian and Hierarchicalizing Dimensions of Neurosciences
Thorvald Sirnes: Biosociality, Citizenship and Egalitarianism
Allen Abramson: Extreme Sports and the Technological Self
Penny Harvey: Technology as Intervention and Liberation

Open discussion

Tuesday 3 June

Session 4: Egalitarianism at the Grass Roots

Chair and Discussion Leader: Martin Holbraad

a)    Popular reactions and egalitarian ideals
Martin Holbraad: Revolution and Egalitarianism
Joel Robbins:  Radical Egalitarian Religious Processes
Bjørn Enge Bertelsen: Urban Riots — or the Violence of Egalitarian Desire
Christopher Taylor: Civil War and Egalitarianism
Allan Abramson: The Egalitarianism of Play

b)    The commons: Egalitarianism, ecology and the environment

Harry Rothman: The tragedy of the commons: a reactionary political myth?
Edvard Hviding: Ecology, the Commons and Globalization
Don Nonini: The global idea of the commons

Open discussion 

11:30-12:30: Coffee break and working out project ideas

12:30-13:00: Lunch

Session 5: Contemporary Elite Formation and the Effects of New Configurations of Wealth and Consumerism

Chair and Discussion Leader: Jonathan Friedman

Jonathan Friedman: Consumerism, Elite Formation and Celebrity Culture
Don Kalb:  Elite Formations and Forms of Solidarity
Don Nonini: Cosmopolitans, Proles and the New Global Order
Knut Rio:The Double System of Objects in Consumer Society
Morten Nielsen: Enclave Egalitarianism: A Typology of Segregated Democracies

Open discussion
14:45-15:00: Break

Session 6: Globalization, the State, NGOs and Egalitarian Interventions

Chair and Discussion Leaders: Bruce Kapferer and Bjørn Enge Bertelsen
Open discussion

15:30-15:45: Coffee break

Session 7: Reflections For Research: Comparison and Events

Chair and Discussion Leaders: Bruce Kapferer

Open discussion