Shifting Roles. The Manifold Identities of Phenomenology (The 5th Conference on Traditions and Perspectives of the Phenomenological Movement in Central and Eastern Europe)

DATE: Bucharest, 26-28 September 2019

ORGANIZED BY: The Romanian Society for Phenomenology and the University of Bucharest

CONFIRMED KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Emmanuel Alloa (University of St. Gallen); Bruce Bégout (Université Bordeaux Montaigne); Mădălina Diaconu (Universität Wien); Claude Romano (Université Paris-Sorbonne); Bernhard Waldenfels (Bochum University)

ARGUMENT: Looking back at phenomenology’s century-long history, one is particularly struck by the puzzling variation of its function, that is, by its changing role and its shifting status as a discipline. Phenomenology, prior to being established as a “science” by Husserl, was already in use as a “method” in the natural sciences as well as in psychology. In its first years, phenomenology was conceived only as a preliminary technique for clarifying fundamental concepts, and not as a philosophical discipline in its own right. Even Husserl’s early interpretation of phenomenology as “descriptive psychology” still implied such a subordinate function. It is only after the publication of the Ideen that phenomenology actually acquired the status of a philosophy proper, which came along with Husserl’s “radicalisation” of the phenomenological method and his construction of the ultimately paradoxical concept of “pure phenomenology”. However, his tendency to regard phenomenology as an incarnation of “first philosophy” was soon challenged by thinkers like Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Schütz, Levinas or Ricoeur, for whom a “pure phenomenology” was no longer defensible. Consequently, they variously reshaped the place of phenomenology in relation to traditional philosophy and metaphysics, as well as to the human and social sciences, in the context of which the phenomenological method simultaneously developed a still on-going parallel history. In more recent times, this diversification of its functions proliferated with the advent of neo- and post-phenomenological platforms, with the repurposing of phenomenological elements in deconstructivist and critical projects, or with hybrid attempts to merge phenomenological procedures with those of the empirical sciences, most notably in the case of neurophenomenology. In addition to this, it can also be noted that through the works of Patočka, Dragomir or Tischner, phenomenology acquired a different function, as a clandestine social practice, in the specific historical context of Eastern Europe during the Cold War.

It is in view of such reflections that the present conference aims to celebrate and question the contemporary versatility of phenomenology, by addressing its manifold shifts in function, its present identity and its possible perspectives, in both a systematic and a historical perspective. We welcome papers and/or panel proposals focusing on (but not limited to) phenomenology’s various relationships with the natural sciences, the social sciences, anthropology, deconstruction, political theory and practice, metaphysics, ethics, critical theory, image theory, film and media studies, post-phenomenology and interdisciplinary research. We also encourage proposals exploring new approaches to intersubjectivity, embodiment, historicity and time.


  • Individual papers (abstract maximum 3000 characters). Abstracts should be formatted for blind review. A separate cover letter should include the title of the presentation; name, affiliation and contact information.
  • Thematic panels including 3 individual papers (description of the panel + abstract of the 3 papers).
  • Roundtables (discussions focused on recent publications, in the presence of the author/editor + 1 or 2 commentators).

Each speaker will have 30 minutes in total (20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion).

ORGANIZING COMMITEE: Ileana Borțun, Cristian Ciocan, Christian Ferencz-Flatz, Paul Marinescu.

Contact: (please indicate “The Manifold Identities of Phenomenology” in the subject heading of your email message).

The language of the conference: English

Registration fee: 60 Euro

Deadline: 15 February 2019

Confirmation: 31st of March 2019