Sociological and musical projects
Research and scholarly projects, bands I have played with, my musical collaborations.
Theoretical research of complex phenomena in physics, biology and humanities
Research framework programme of the Center for Theoretical Study (Charles University in Prague and Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic) and Dept. of philosophy and history of natural sciences, Faculty of Sciences (Charles University in Prague), headed by David Storch.
The research framework programme gathers collaborators from various disciplines: physics (Roman Kotecký, Bedřich Velický, František Slanina); mathematics (Petr Kůrka, Kateřina Trlifajová, Bohuslav Balcar); macro-ecology (David Storch, Arnošt L. Šizling); biology (Anton Markoš, Karel Kleisner); sociology of science (Zdeněk Konopásek, Jan Paleček); and philosophy (Ivan M. Havel, Zdeněk Kratochvíl).
Religious realities in the making: Apparitions and possessions as practical and collective accomplishments
Sociological research project, supported by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (403/08/1758): Zdeněk Konopásek - grant holder; Jan Paleček - research collaborator.
In this qualitative sociological research we will study how (mainly catholic) pastoral practice treats spiritual experiences of apparition or demonic possession. E.g., how it happens – by practical means of religious life and devoutness – that a vision is accepted as a kind of apparition? Or, quite often, that it is suppressed, privatized and turned into a psychical effect such as delusion? What qualities of such a spiritual experience are regarded as relevant? What rules, norms and imaginaries are mobilized at such occasions? How are these experiences made accountable and collectively shareable? How they are disputed, evaluated, and doubted? Or, eventually, affirmed and appreciated as religious realities? In fact, we intend to carry out an in-depth study of phenomena that are so unbelievable that their acceptance is always (more or less) in risk of being classified in terms of psychopathology or mental illness, but that are (precisely as unbelievable, super-natural and unexplainable by scientific means) key and carefully defined elements of widely accepted religious belief.
1991-1993 / 2002-2008 ::::
Dr. Konopný Quartet
Wild free improvisation band: Radomil Uhlíř - voice; René Pařez (until 2005)/Joe Karafiát (since 2005) - guitars; Zdeněk Konopásek - drums, trumpet; Jan Štolba (since 2006) - sax; and others
I played with the Quartet in 1991-93 and then again (and mainly) in 2002-2008. This weird musical group was/is dominated by the actor, poet, visual artist, traveller and singer, Radomil Uhlíř. The band initiated as a reincarnation of late Dvouletá fáma (Uhlíř, Vik, Konopásek). A number of musicians have played with the band throughout the years, e.g.: Vratislav Kydlíček (drums), Lumír Gajda (guitar), René Pařez (guitar) and Zdeněk Hmyzák Novák (trumpet). In 2002-2008 I especially enjoyed playing with the following lineup: Radomil Uhlíř, Joe Karafiát, Jan Štolba and Oto Sukovský (bass, since 2007). In 2006 a double CD was released by Guerilla Records: Skrývám se, ale nikdo mne nehledá [I am hiding, but nobody is looking for me]. In spring 2008, after a deep personal conflict with Radomil Uhlíř, I left the band.
Science and governance
Work in the expert group of the European Commission
The expert group on "Science and governance" was invited to perform the following tasks: (1) Analyse the uneasiness which is pervading the relations between science, civil society and policy-making. (2) Analyse the strengths and limits of current solutions to this uneasiness. (3) Suggest appropriate conceptual approaches which frame the interactions between science, society and policy-making. (4) Formulate recommendations for more effective science-related governance. The group was headed by Brian Wynne and Ulrike Felt; among its members were, e.g.: Michel Callon, Sheila Jasanoff, Pierre-Benoit Joly, Stefan May, Arie Rip and Andy Stirling. The following report was published as the output of more than two-years long collective work: FELT, U. / WYNNE, B. (2007): Science and governance: Taking European knowledge society seriously. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities. 95 s.
Spiritual and religious experiences in psychiatry: The construction of mental pathology
Sociological research project, supported by the Grant Agency of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; Jan Paleček - grant holder, Zdeněk Konopásek - research collaborator.
In the proposed two-years research studied how psychiatry encounters the phenomena of hearing voices or having apparitions, i.e., quasi/spiritual and quasi/religious experiences. Using qualitative data from interviews and ethnographical observations in psychiatric facilities, we focused on individual illness trajectories, encounters of patients with psychiatric professionals and practical institutional and material arrangements of the treatment. By revealing how religiosity and mental disease are jointly and practically performed by means of contemporary psychiatry, in our case studies on mental patients we intended to better understand how the spiritual and religious experiences of mental patients are translated into the psychiatric language, what are medical, social and political consequences of these processes and what religiosity, spirituality and mental illness is. We hoped to contribute, by our research, to cultivation of contemporary and future reforms of psychiatry.
Expertise and environmental politics: The case of Natura 2000
Sociological research project, supported by the Grant Agendy of the Czech Republic (403/06/0436); Zdeněk Konopásek - grant holder; Jan Paleček - research collaborator.
In this two-year project we suggested to study the preparation and implementation of the European environmental project NATURA 2000. Inspired by numerous sociological investigations abroad, we focused upon the complex and ambivalent relationships between expertise and democratic decision-making. We made use of mostly qualitative approaches (although not exclusively) to analyze various documents and research interviews. In the resulting detailed case study we paid special attention to how particular social actors continuously “translate” the issue of planned nature reserves into scientific argumentation or, on the other hand, into a political matter. What are the consequences of these translations for the project itself? By answering these questions we perhaps contributed to better understanding of expert/political culture in the Czech Republic (in relation to contemporary European trends).
Archa Theatre 2005
Applied sociological study for the Archa Theatre in Prague (http://www.archatheatre.cz); Zdeněk Konopásek - principal researcher, coordinator; Majda Rajčanová - research collaborator.
The research was focused on the current situation of the institution - on its public image, its audiences and artistic orientation. The final report was submitted to the director of the Archa Theatre in October 2005.
Virtualni institut, o.p.s. - the internet center for social studies
NGO promoting online technologies in social sciences research, publication and teaching.
This non-profit organization was established and sponsored by Josef Alan. I was member of board of trustees and also participated in a number of particular projects of the Virtual institute. The Institute was publisher of the scholarly journal Biograf (of which I was editor-in-chief), coordinated experimental online courses for BA and MA social science students in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (I tought some of them), organized trainings and lectures, supported some research projects and established and run the archive of qualitative data Medard (currently under the roof of Institute of sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences).
Alternative rock band: Vladimír Línek - vocals, keyboards (leader); Tomáš Vodňanský - guitar; Jiří Jelínek - sax; Jarda Kašpar - bass; Zdeněk Konopásek - drums.
I joined the group soon after its start in 2002. We played nice songs written by the poet and band leader Vladimír Línek, a big admirer of Oldřich Janota, but also of such diverse artists as Tom Waits or Jon Anderson from Yes. A number of concerts and two demo CD-Rs left behind this band. In 2005 Tomáš Vodňanský left for one year, travelling abroad, and we stopped playing. It was the same time when Kvartet Dr. Konopného [Dr. Konopny Quartet], which I enjoyed very much, started preparation for recording CD.
Analysing public accountability procedures in contemporary European contexts
International research project supported within the Fifth EC Framework Programme.
This research was intended to analyse, at the European national and transnational levels, the relevance of public accountability procedures for achieving publicly legitimate and sustainable ogvernance of socially complex issues. Seven national teams (United Kingdom, Denmark, Latvia, Germany, Portugal, France and Czech Republic) carried out in-depth empirical analyses - through three case studies - of the role of public accountability in the national contexts in relation to the issues of genetically modified food policy, household waste management, and local/regional transport policy. Having this done, they undertook cross-national and cross-thematic comparisons of the research undertaken. The project was headed by Simon Joss from the Center for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster, London (UK). The Czech part was institutionally covered by the Center for Theoretical Study at the Czech Academy of Sciences and Charles University in Prague. The Czech national team consisted of: Zdenek Konopásek (head), Tereza Stöckelová, Tereza Vajdová and Lenka Zamykalová; in 2001-2 also Zuzana Kusá (SAV Bratislava, Slovakia)