The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at The Open University, U.K.
Announces: Self and Subject: African and Asian Perspectives
An International Conference on The Study of African and Asian Cultures in the 21st Century
Held 20th- 23rd September 2005, at Edinburgh Conference Centre, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland
There are few areas of research that have attracted so much interest in the arts and humanities as the constitution and representation of the self, whether as a unit of literary and philosophical reflection, or as embodied entity or as product and producer of cultural life. Yet with the increasing movement of people, goods and ideas within and beyond national boundaries, it is not only the identity and status of the individual subject that has been called into question but also many of the assumptions and methodologies that once characterised different disciplinary approaches to the self.
This conference invites a double questioning of the subject. It seeks to foreground recent innovative reflections on the status of the individual subject through a questioning of different disciplinary approaches. It asks how the recognition that individual lives are formed in increasingly complex “multi-cultural” and “trans-national” contexts demands new methodologies for re-thinking the subject within and across disciplinary boundaries.
Papers are invited from literary theorists, historians, anthropologists, philosophers, art historians and other specialists of Africa and Asia who have an interest in such domains as life histories, post-colonial literature, autobiography, visual representation, material culture, aesthetics, the media, ethnicity, ethnography, migration and diaspora studies, and the politics of identity.
The conference will be divided into eight panels, each of which is organised around a particular theme. In line with the theoretical aims of the conference, contributors are asked to include explicit reflection concerning their methodological assumptions and innovations, and to indicate to which panel they wish to contribute. Abstracts of not more than 300 words should be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 31 December 2004.
Invited speakers to be announced shortly.
The themes of the Conference panels will be:
Life Writing/Reading Lives: to examine the processes by which the colonial and post-colonial subject is rendered into textual form and the reception of those textual selves Sub-themes include: (a) autobiography/biography; (b) narrative and memory; (c) heroism, hagiography and the exemplary life; (d) invisible presences - lost lives.
Translating Cultures: to debate the relationship between the act of linguistic translation and cultural transmission. Sub-themes include (a) the invisible transportation of the source text; (b) cultural interchange – translating/transferring cultures; (c) ‘translating the self’; (d) ‘cosmopolitics’, “glocalisation” and cultural translation.
Aesthetic Questions: to examine the conceptualisation of the aesthetic dimension of life in African and Asian cultures. Sub-themes include: (a) is transcultural aesthetics possible? (b) insider and outsider views of aesthetic concepts; (c) sense of self/sense of beauty; (d) the search for aesthetic universals.
Transcultural Histories: to question the essentialised subjects of history and to debate the mutually implicating relationship between 'the economic' and 'the cultural' in African and Asian histories. Sub-themes include: (a) beyond nation-state histories; (b) material and cultural transactions and interactions; (c) the search for cultural creativity; (d) revisiting the concept of 'historical agency'.
'Image and Sound: to explore recent approaches to the audiovisual in which cultural processes and subject formation are perceived as practices in sounds, images and performances, and to re-evaluate and recontextualise the status of different disciplinary approaches to the audiovisual subject. Sub-themes include a) image practices; b) sound practices; c) the performative; d) “audiovisualscapes”.
Cultural Identities/Global Politics: to explore manifestations of nationality, religion, ethnicity, class and gender in the 21st century. Sub-themes include: (a) identity post 9/11; (b) cosmopolitan citizenship; (c) margins and metropoles; (d) post-colonial futures.
Body Forms: to explore African and Asian conceptions and expressions of self through a focus on the visual media of dress, body art and related practices and to evaluate different disciplinary approaches to embodied experience. Sub-themes include (a) interrogating the boundaries of the body; (b) dress as individual expression and social skin; (c) the interplay of globalising and localising forces on the body; (d) the relationship between bodily and other modes of visual and sensorial expression.
Situated Identities, Migrant Cultures and Contested Locations: to explore the relationships between migrant communities and locations and to examine how local cultural identities, in the process of transformation, are displayed in cultural productions. Sub-themes include: (a) being there – ethnography in the 21st century; (b) travelling cultures; (c) border lands; (d) exile.
The conference language will be English.
The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies is a research institute within The Open University, U.K. For further information on the Ferguson Centre, please visit our website above.
Research Centre Secretary
The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies,
Faculty of Arts,
The Open University,
Walton Hall, Milton Keynes
MK7 6AA, UK
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