This conference aims to examine the popular, literary, cinematic, and artistic image of Amsterdam in the age of globalisation. From internationally acclaimed novels by John Irving, Arnon Grunberg, and Ian McEwan to blockbusters like Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's Twelve; from historical fictions by Deborah Moggach and David Liss to sociological journalism like Ian Buruma's Murder in Amsterdam; and from Albert Camus's classic novel La Chute to art films like Peter Greenaway's Nightwatching, the storehouse of international representations of Amsterdam is vast and diverse. But whether these representations focus on the city as the setting of experimental and alternative lifestyles, on its history as a cradle of early-modern and modern capitalism, or on the inter-cultural tensions (including a religiously motivated killing) which it has seen in recent years, Amsterdam has always triggered an intense and multifaceted response in the eyes of its international and Anglophone beholders. The conference welcomes papers that explore these issues from various theoretical, critical, analytical, and cultural perspectives.
Possible topics include, but are not limited to:
1. Representations of Amsterdam as a transcultural meeting place: How do imaginings of Amsterdam situate the Netherlands in the world? By which strategies is the city constructed and marketed as a "brand"? In what sort of cultural practices and representations do the notions of tolerance, liberty and freedom commonly associated with Amsterdam find embodiment?
2. Representations of Amsterdam as an historical centre of capitalism, commerce, and colonial trade: What are the politics and aesthetics of these imaginings in the face of a changing economic world order? How does Amsterdam function as a lieu de mémoire of the financial and economic world? Which scenarios for the future does the image of Amsterdam invite?
3. Representations of "libertarian" Amsterdam: In imagining Amsterdam as a sanctuary for legalised prostitution and euthanasia, do artists and film makers respond to a reality which they see as being unique to Dutch society? Or, do they displace foreign or international concerns, problems, and issues onto the Dutch city? What sort of authority - historical or artistic, fact-based or fictional - do these representations claim? And how can we historicise these, often stereotypical representations?
4. Representations of Amsterdam as the paradigm of an "open society" whose tolerance and long-standing multiculturalist ideals are currently under question: How has the image of the city changed since 9/11 and the "clash of civilisations" debate? How do literature, cinema, and the arts respond to the global coverage of recent Dutch news events? What sort of cultural transfers are facilitated by these responses?
Proposals for individual papers of no more than 300 words should be sent to both Dr. Joyce Goggin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Dr. Marco de Waard (email@example.com) by February 14, 2009. We also welcome proposals for panels of three speakers (summarising the rationale of the panel and providing abstracts of each paper). The conference will be held in Amsterdam, November 19-21, 2009, and will be jointly hosted by the Department of English and the Institute of Culture and History (ICH), University of Amsterdam.
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