Taboos change – rapidly. Homosexuality was once a taboo in Western Europe, as was “living in sin”, [i.e. outside marriage], abortion, childlessness, physical disabilities, atheism and suicide
No longer. But new taboos have arisen. The Europe of our ancestors was in some ways more accepting of depression, virginity, celibacy, getting old, illness and death than we are in our more youth-centred and health-orientated society.
Other once popular habits are becoming social sins and taboos, like smoking or cruelty to animals. To have a boring, uninteresting job is increasingly a taboo – an offence against the US-driven cult of fulfillment. So is obesity – once a sign of prosperity.
Under consideration are taboo areas like gay marriages, as well as family issues like arranged marriages and marital violence. Churches and other religious communities are increasingly shielded from real scrutiny. Do they merit this exemption from probing? The legacy of the wars of the 1990s is another field that might repay deeper exploration.
We have encouraged candidates not to feel limited by these suggestions, but instead they should feel free to propose other topics related to ideas surrounded by prejudice, silence and shame. This year, our aim is to recieve proposals that include plans for cross-border research, involving at least two countries in the Balkans and one EU member state. They should unearth fresh information or adopt original perspectives that will attract a wide readership in the Balkans and the EU.