It is with a certain nostalgia and great sadness that we begin this issue by announcing the death of one of our journal's founding editors, Prof. Christian Giordano [1945–2018], in the final days of last year – an obituary will be published in the next issue. With the passing of Ina-Maria Greverus in 2017, AJEC is now orphaned from its two founding editors. At a time when the Soviet Union was collapsing and Europe would begin facing even more drastic changes, Grevenus and Giordano had the collective vision in 1990 of launching the Anthropological Yearbook of European Cultures.
And now we face another significant moment in AJEC's historiography. As many of you know, our esteemed friend and colleague Ulli Kockel is stepping down as chief editor of AJEC after over a decade of outstanding service to this periodical. As incoming editors (well, Elisabeth has been underway for several months already), we would like to include a collective thank you to Ulli in this year's first issue. Since neither of us are that well acquainted with him, however, we felt more comfortable as enablers rather than authors of such an appreciation. We thus invited colleagues to write a short paragraph or two that acknowledges some facet of his contributions to the journal, SIEF as well as his scholarship in more general terms. The seven astute statements below are the result.
Overall, this is by no means a comprehensive appreciation of the influence Ulli has had within the humanities and social sciences; rather, it is constrained by an invitation to a limited number of people. But we're sure many of the words below will resonate with your own perceptions of Ulli, should you be so fortunate as to have had the opportunity to know and/or work with him. All we could add at this stage is that we hope we're able to suitably stand in for (as we could never adequately fill) the larger-than-life shoes we have inherited in taking on this editorial role.
One of the last innovations that Ulli introduces is the Forum: This section shall make AJEC a place of vivid debate that also includes more essayistic formats. In this issue, the forum and special section articles share the politicisation of embodiment. By placing different types of emphasis on what are E(e)uropean corporeal ways of knowing and being, these parallel formats take us straight into concerns that are very much of significance to the 21st century.
The body as analytical category has never been neutral as such. Even before Michel Foucault, ethnologists interested in the experiential and the sensorial have been aware of issues dealing with hierarchies, domination and resistance. Yet phenomenological and more existentially grounded approaches to understanding human behaviour, cultural meanings, cognitive patterns of organisation and social structures have indeed come a long way in recent decades. And one of the important contributions that this issue of AJEC makes comprehensively is to put notions of socio-cultural embodiment into a setting that not only deals with identity politics, but equally captures the (infra)structural influences of policy making at the European Union level. Or should that be, at the ‘eu’ level? Perhaps we should all take inspiration from bell hooks in terms of thinking of the ways in which capitalisation, or the lack of it, can act as an instrument for making our statements more subversive and/or political. This is certainly one of the many provocations in this issue of ajec.
Elisabeth Timm and Patrick Laviolette