Facets of structural thinking. Reasons and methods of a rediscovery

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Organisateurs : Lorenzo Cigana & Sémir Badir

Dates : 27 et 28 avril 2022

Lieu : Université de Liège (Belgique), dans la Salle de l’Horloge (Bât. A1, 2e entresol).

Le colloque, organisé sur deux demi-journées, se déroulera en anglais. Le programme est présenté sur l’affiche ci-contre. Pour plus d’informations n’hésitez pas à contacter : lcigana@uliege.be  ; semir.badir@uliege.be

Présentation :

This symposium, originally conceived in 2020 as an outcome of the project Infrastructuralism,
aims to foster debate concerning the reasons for and interest in the contemporary revival of
structuralism, as well as the methods implemented in such a revival. The myriad approaches
to reassessing the relevance of structuralism cannot be ignored, and, indeed, one may
venture so far as to say that structuralism never really died in the first place. The reasons for
this, however, are not always clear, and such endeavors often struggle to situate themselves
between historical reconstruction and theoretical re-enactment. This might result from the
fact that such research sometimes fails to address basic background questions, such as ‘why
do we need structural thinking?’, ‘in relation to what?’, and, ultimately, ‘which approach
should we choose?’.
The traditional difficulty in defining structuralism – qualified variously as a “method” (Piaget),
“doctrine” (Benveniste), “practise” (Barthes) or “new classicism” (Hjelmslev) – lies not only in
the variety of its implementations, but also in its somewhat blurred timeframe. One might
suggest referring to something termed as “long structuralism”, in the sense in which historian
E. Hobsbawm spoke of a “long 19th century”, thus extending the traditional span of 30 years
(1930-1966) so as to also cover post-structuralism and the contemporary reappraisal.
Some issues display better than others why such critical reappraisal is desirable: (1) the
current debate concerning the concept of “markedness”, one of the clearest outputs of the
structural mindset; (2) the re-evaluation of the role of affectivity, deemed to be a largely
overlooked aspect alongside subjectivity; (3) the re-evaluation of the so-called “Boas’
imperative”, once wielded as a presupposition for a sound general grammar, nowadays used
as an argument against universalist stances.
Participants of the symposium are invited to present their research on structural thinking,
showing its relevance and discussing the reasons behind the contemporary renewal of
interest in structuralism and the methods for catalyzing such a process.


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