“Glamour and celebration, unconditional and not preceded by delivering conference papers, is precisely what the scientific community needs today. Scientists spend an increasing amount of time competing with their peers, collecting publishing points, filling out bureaucratic forms, applying for prestigious grants, indulging in petty institutional politics, complaining about the global neoliberal restructuring of universities and isolating themselves in their offices. The Viennese Ball of Sciences allows us to collectively transgress these everyday experiences and look down upon them from a position of regained sovereignty. Meanwhile, the passionate debates and the coming together with our colleagues and students remind us of why we became scientists in the first place. As a glamorous ritual, the ball demands that we display generosity, politeness and respect for each other. In the process, it re-establishes our belief that we all, each in our modest way, contribute to the advancement of human knowledge. Engendering a spirit of unity, this ball is not only a source of cultural pleasure, but it also allows us to think together and think bigger and hence also to decide which battles are really worth fighting.”
Tereza Kuldova is Visiting Senior Researcher at the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology at University of Vienna and a Researcher at the Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at University of Oslo.
Photo: Sabine Hauswirth