Citizenship and Its Discontents: Belonging in a Global World, an interdisciplinary graduate conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Saturday, March 30, 2013; abstracts 1/25/13).
Through many of its common avatars—the multinational corporation, the world wide web, universal human rights—globalization invites us to question the nation state as the exclusive or even the most fertile terrain for exercising citizenship; and yet the nation state is often the most viable addressee of the political claims of individuals and communities. Citizenship is rife with such paradoxes: it defines rights and legitimates political action but encumbers the people it benefits; it offers community membership but on the basis of exclusion; it can open up alliances across race, gender, sexuality, and class, though its history is largely one of coercive homogeneity.
For our 5th annual interdisciplinary conference, the English Graduate Organization at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst invites submissions that take up the theme of “citizenship,” particularly (but not exclusively) as an arena of contradiction and contestation. For instance, how do individual and collective narratives of belonging challenge institutionalized personhood? How do disenfranchised persons and groups navigate a relationship to their state(s) given limited access to political resources? How do institutions like public education mediate between citizens and their governments? What function does an “informed citizenry” serve?
Though these questions are intended to prompt interrogation of citizenship’s paradoxes and problematics, we do not want to suggest that citizenship is unredeemable. What does citizenship make possible? As scholars, educators, intellectuals, and artists who are also citizens (of our local communities and our countries as much as our higher-learning institutions), what responsibility do we have to structure our work in terms of civic engagement? To reach out to wider audiences? To connect our projects to social and political movements? More broadly, how can the humanities and social sciences cultivate civic engagement and active political participation?
Roundtable Participants: Priscilla Wald (Duke University; Past President of ASA), Nick Bromell (UMass-Amherst), and Sut Jhally (UMass-Amherst)
Please send proposals for papers, panels, performances, creative pieces, or multimedia projects to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, January 25, 2013.
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