Call for papers: minority cultures today

CALL FOR PAPERS

School of Modern Languages,
School of Social Sciences
&
Welsh Institute for Social and Cultural Affairs (WISCA)

Bangor University

Invite proposals for papers for a major interdisciplinary conference:

MINORITY CULTURES TODAY:
NEW DEMARCATIONS, DEBATES AND CHALLENGES

7 – 9 September 2009

Over the last two decades, the study of minority cultures has played a key part in some of the most innovative developments in the arts, humanities and social sciences. The concept of Minority culture has currency in a variety of theoretical perspectives, from postcolonial to gender studies. They have themselves been the object of sustained investigation in a wide range of intersecting disciplines, from sociology to cultural studies, history, political sciences or translation studies. Further, the study of minority cultures has brought about profound changes in many of the cultural and socio-political practices that emanate from these disciplines, from literary history to cultural and language policies.

For all its topicality, however, the study of minority cultures may have over the last few years reached a crisis. First, the very definition of minorities and minority cultures has become more and more blurred in a theoretical (and lived) space increasingly occupied by concerns about globalisation, mobility and interaction.. Secondly, the study of minority cultures has often been subsumed under a more generic preoccupation with the history and future of so-called small or stateless nations.  The tendency to naturalise the link between academia and political engagement  has on occasion precluded more self-critical viewpoints and working practices.

This markedly interdisciplinary conference aims to showcase how scholars with an interest in minority cultures from a variety of perspectives (politics, history, literature,,arts, music, language, sport, religion, ? ) attempt to redefine and rekindle the above and other debates. It aims also to provide a coherent forum in which to hold such debates by, on the one hand, emphasising why the study of minorities remains vital in the humanities and social sciences today and, on the other, doing so in a way that goes beyond highlighting the benefits of shared affinities. Research questions may include the following:

1) In a context where the concept of minority is no longer understood in dichotomous terms as opposed to majority or hegemonic cultures but is by necessity relational and dynamic, what possible redefinitions of the term can be advanced? In other words, how does the study of minority cultures outlive the postcolonial framework of centre and periphery that predominated in the 1990s?

2) In what ways does the current academic interest in the dynamics of globalization engage with minorities? There is a sense in which some of the categories that emerge from Globalisation Studies (travel theory, hybridization, post-national theories, etc) relegate the struggles (and the presence) of minorities to a secondary position. Why is this?

3) How are new minorities being created through the processes of global communication, economic competition, international migration, political devolution, or the building of new nations in post-Soviet space, as well as smaller-scale interactions between groups?

4) Can methods of investigation into demarcations and boundaries be developed which do not presuppose a single hierarchy of domination?

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers. Interdisciplinary and/or comparative approaches are particularly welcome. Please send a 300-500 word abstract to the following address by 31 May 2009 to Michelle Walker (wisca@bangor.ac.uk).

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