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Overall approach

The joint research programme “Baltic Peripeties”, developed by an interdisciplinary network of researchers from the University of Greifswald together with partners from NTNU Trondheim and Tartu Ülikool, aims to use the term ‘peripety’ to extend ‘narration’ and ‘event’ as novel means for investigating narrative constructions of the Baltic Sea Region and how specific events, turning points or even catastrophes shape these constructions. The aim of the international research training group is less about the revival of a history of events than about turning to a more flexible research approach of the narrative turn, which understands narration as the anthropological foundation for human perception of reality. Fictional as well as factual narrations produce meaning by singling out a particular event from a per se infinite stream of occurrences. This re-evaluation of one event to an event with a turning point establishes the centre of a plot that has a definite beginning defined by the question ‘What leads to the event?’ and a definite end construed by the question ‘What consequences does the event have?’. Segmenting time and space in a meaningful way, peripety is a key to the production of meaning.

It influences our perceptions of the world and leaves its mark on political convictions and social actions, economic decisions, socio-ecological and cultural frames of meaning. On this methodological basis, the research programme aims to examine the narrative constitution of the Baltic Sea Region: Which historically relevant peripeties determine past and current perceptions of the Baltic Sea Region? What kind of social, cultural, political, ecological and economic agency do these peripeties possess – historically, currently and for the future? Do different peripeties with distinct effects exist alongside each other? If so, do they interact, stand in competition or do they exclude one another? In addressing such questions, the international research training group “Baltic Peripeties” will be the first to make theoretical and methodical advances in the application of the narratological concept of peripety as a tool of enquiry in regional studies and advance the state of the art in the field of narratology.

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