Dates: 25—27 June 2014
Venue: University of Bielsko-Biała, Poland
We invite readings of the periphery that reveal how what is deemed peripheral tampers with, contests, appropriates, and misuses the very logic of the centre in order to challenge the legitimacy of the centre/periphery designation underlying political conceptualizations past and present. “Revolting,” therefore, gestures discursively in at least two directions. On one hand, it is meant to register the centre’s sentiments towards the periphery, its hegemonic logic, gaze and taste, the manifold ways in which it finds the periphery repulsive and offensive. “Revolting” would thus be seen as a quality the periphery acquires when it is seen as refusing (something it has always done) the centre’s passifying/pacifying practices. If what is revolting conveys “a strong sense of aversion to something perceived as dangerous because of its powers to contaminate, infect, or pollute by proximity, contact, or ingestion” (William Ian Miller) then it can be seen as a particularly cogent trope for how the centre imagines and deals with the periphery. On the other hand, “revolting” is meant to capture the periphery’s various forms of dis/engagement with and rebellion against the centre’s “dictates of interest,” however conceived, including the very interest in up-keeping the centre/peripheries modes of thinking.
I am located in the margin. I make a definite distinction between that marginality which is imposed by oppressive structures and that marginality one chooses as site of resistance – as location of radical openness and possibility.
- bell hooks -
Although not consciously perhaps, the periphery is an idea that is willed, and it governs perception under the quiet dictates of interest.
- Timothy Brennan -
To summon up the term “peripheries” is undoubtedly a problematic gesture indebted, as it is, to hegemonic ways of thinking and performed, arbitrarily, from within the centre (e.g. Gayatri Spivak, Edward Said, Meyda Yeğenoğlu). The most common association would probably be the exhausted centre/periphery binary understood as a product of the Western(-ized) Mind attempting to socio-economically conquer larger and larger geopolitical areas. Expected to be passive and penetrable, in the dominant political imagination peripheries have been constructed as places not capable of undermining the centre’s authority, of posing any serious threats or coming up with viable socio-economic and cultural alternatives. However, when they do not comply with the expectation, when they do rise up against the centre’s power, when they try to constitute themselves as subjects in their own right, they tend to be seen as irrational, non-human, thus violent and active; it is then that the Western(-ized) Mind, attempting to prevent its body politic from being contaminated, untangled or barbarically invaded, takes action to contain or pacify them.
While the centre has frequently attempted to magnanimously give voice to the marginal, it continued to reassert and consolidate its own vocal authority. Alternatively, in its ambition to valorize the periphery, the centre has appropriated peripheral lives and cultures to further stage its own superiority and maintain hierarchies (cultural, political and economic). Either way, the centre has persistently imagined its relationship with the periphery as one-directional: instituting itself as the sole author and dispenser of values, ideas, knowledge and money, it has passionately defended its inviolable purity and vigorously denied any influences from the margins. But, to unthink the dominant conceptualizations, is it enough to argue that there are many different centres and peripheries? How enabling, politically speaking, is it to say that centrality depends (to use the post-Marxist apparatus) on one’s ability to - in a favourable socio-economic climate - enact the hegemonic binding which results in one’s subjugating, overcoding or marginalizing other imaginaries? What is more, could it be argued that in upholding the centre/peripheries binary and in trying to emancipate and grant subjectivities to the “peripheral” identities/voices/practices, political and cultural thinkers contribute to the “hegemony of the hegemonic formation” (J.K. Gibson-Graham) and, as a result, petrify an imaginary in which subalterns will never be able to speak?
Since the phenomena perceived as peripheral are recognized today within the whole spectrum of discourses we hope to explore these multiple areas in order to present a truly interdisciplinary view on the subject. We, therefore, invite proposals that address the theme of the conference from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, offering a critical consideration of manifold aspects of both the scope and the limitations of the revolting potential of the periphery.
Confirmed keynote speakers:
Mireille Rosello University of Amsterdam
Saul Newman Goldsmiths College, University of London
Tadeusz Rachwał University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw
Please send paper proposals of no more than 300 words and a short bio to the conference organizers at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline for proposals: 15 February 2014
All received submissions will be acknowledged, with notification of acceptance by 28 February 2014.
Participants from Poland: 450 PLN and 350 PLN for PhD students
Participants from outside Poland: 120 Euro and 95 Euro for PhD students
Ewa Macura-Nnamdi (University of Bielsko-Biała, English Department)
Maria Korusiewicz (University of Bielsko-Biała, English Department)
Rafał Majka (University of Bielsko-Biała, Department of Foreign Languages;
PhD candidate at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw)
Sławomir Konkol (University of Bielsko-Biała, English Department; PhD candidate at the University of Silesia)
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