Description of the 2019 edition

Race, Sovereignties and South-Eastern Thought

4th Telciu Summer School, August 11 – 18, 2019

This year’s Summer School engages with the entanglements of race and sovereignty from both the Global South and the European East perspectives, in an effort to explore the potential of a common decolonial, politically radical South-Eastern thought. It traces the origin of both processes of racialization and (sovereign) state formation to a colonial imaginary that still shapes racial state politics today. This includes exploring the relationship between natural resource frontiers, territory, and the construction of ethno-national others. Maintaining this framework, we propose a biopolitical approach regarding the coming into being of an anthropomorphise nation, and its effects on the individuals. Also, at this year’s edition we will explore the possibility of greening the economic model, from an economic sovereignty perspective.

For a long time, mainstream historiography and social science viewed the rise of nation-states as the gradual overcoming of multinational political organizations and multi-ethnic empires throughout the world. The resulting conceptualization of empires and nation-states as mutually exclusive and chronologically discrete political formations, and of the nation-state as the modern norm generated its own anomalies. The Habsburg, the Ottoman, and the Tsarist Empires, powerful global actors until well into the twentieth-century, were explained away as anachronistic survivals of the old order in the face of mounting national challenges.

In spite of ample evidence for the coexistence of imperial and national state structures in the nineteenth century and most of the twentieth, the dominant view is that they no longer coexist in the twenty-first. Dozens of state formations which are still colonized in the twenty-first century, such as Europe’s and the United States’ outermost regions and overseas territories, continue to be viewed as exceptions from the above trajectory from empire to nation and as anomalies in a modern world of sovereign nation-states, while their inhabitants retain colonial citizenships and unequal rights with respect to their counterparts in the metropole. At the same time, as outright authoritarianism plays havoc with the facades of parliamentary liberalism in places as different as Brazil, India, and Hungary, the term “sovereignty” has become a compulsory signifier of the far-right chorus. Once associated with emancipatory calls for radical democracy, the “sovereignty” churned out by these authoritarians is little more than a signaling device for ethnocentric politics, oligarchic capitalism, and a revival of racist, xenophobic, and anti-gender tactics.

Against this background, can sovereignty be recovered into a field of emancipatory politics at a time when transnational issues like climate catastrophe and mass migration are the defining condition of our times? Does the inclusive definition of popular sovereignty resonate less with mass publics than its exclusionary recovery by the “take our country back” reactionaries because of ingrained racial logic? Why was it so easy for authoritarians to convert popular sovereignty into a veneer for racism and homophobia? Do we still need sovereignty as a basis of emancipatory politics or are “postcolonial sovereignty games” (Adler-Nissen/Gad 2013) increasingly the rule and “non-sovereign futures” (Yarimar Bonilla 2014)?

Like in the previous editions, this year too there will be activities for, and with the local community, which are described here.


We have a unique and progressive policy on fees. Similar events, especially those held at the major European university campuses, involve prohibitive costs for a large number of potential participants, especially those from the Global South (in which we include Eastern Europe as well). To top it off, those summer schools have high accommodation and food costs.

Our response is to come up with the most affordable summer school out there without compromising on the variable that matters: the intellectual quality of the events. Specifically, the lectures will be given by accomplished national and international academics, however, the fees do not cost an arm and a leg.

All activities are free for the residents of County Bistrița-Năsăud and for the children that accompany their parents to the summer school, within the limits of available places. Due to the financial support received from the local and county authorities, to which we can add the funds obtained through cultural funding bodies and donations, we have the possibility to charge very low fees for participants from outside the locality and the county:

  • 25 euros for Romanian students
  • 50 euros for students from countries with minimum wages below 1000 euros/month
  • 100 euros for those in countries with minimum wages above 1000 euro/month.

The fees include free participation in all events, a tent site in a quiet camp provided by the local municipality and facilitating the rental of rooms in the homes of the locals at prices below those required by the small hotels and bed and breakfasts in the village.

The local restaurants are partners in our project and offer superb local fare at unbeatable prices. The price for 3 meals per day is the same as last year 30 RON/person.

The final program will be published in June, when we will also publish the final list with our sponsors, partner institutions, and media partners of this edition.