6th Global Conference
Saturday 6th July – Monday 8th July 2013
Mansfield College, Oxford
This inter- and multi-disciplinary project seeks to explore the contemporary experience of Diasporas – communities who conceive of themselves as a national, ethnic, linguistic or other form of cultural and political construction of collective membership living outside of their ‘home lands.’ Diaspora is a concept which is far from being definitional. Despite problems and limitations in terminology, this notion may be defined with issues attached to it for a more complete understanding. Such a term which may have its roots in Greek, is used customarily to apply to a historical phenomenon that has now passed to a period that usually supposes that diasporans are those who are settled forever in a country other than the one in which they were born and thus this term loses its dimension of irreversibility and of exile.
In order to increase our understanding of Diasporas and their impact on both the receiving countries and their respective homes left behind, key issues will be addressed related to Diaspora cultural expression and interests. In addition, the conference will address the questions: Do Diasporas continue to exist? How do they evolve? What is the footprint or limit of Diaspora? Is the global economy, media and policies sending different messages about diaspora to future generations?
Presentations, papers, performances, workshops, presentations and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following themes:
Diasporic identities and practices invariably position heterosexuality as central to the past (the imagined homeland) and the future survival of the diasporic community through implicit and explicit norms, traditions, and expectations. How do members of diasporic communities who identify with subordinated forms of sexuality such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or other queer identities negotiate hetero-normativity in their communities? Do questions of diasporic cultural and social survival heighten homophobia? Or conversely, are diasporic spaces more easily queered? We welcome papers that address how LGBTQ members negotiate sexuality and diasporic identities, and consider the implications for intersectional theories of diaspora.
Diaspora, Sex, and Gender
If heteronormativity can shape diasporic identities, so too can historical norms of patriarchal power and the practices and social infrastructure associated with them. How, for instance, are diasporas and diasporic communities complicit in the general social practices that buttress inequalities or abuses? Do differences between sexes produce different perspectives on what constitutes diasporic identity? Does this disparity result in the co-existence of competing diasporic identities or ‘imaginaries’ that are tied to sex and gender identity? Or, on the other hand, does diaspora offer opportunities for change or for alternate social performances of sex and gender to arise? Does the distance between the home/land left behind and the new home offer an opportunity to break with the past and with tradition? To what extent can we speak of ‘gendered’ diasporas?
Cinema, television, youtube and other mass media, and the visual arts are instrumental in representing diaspora or making diaspora visible both to itself and to others beyond the diasporic community. In then case of cinema, the presence and impact of displaced / globalised populations of audiences, spectators and producers of new mainstream /Hollywood /Bollywood cinema are crucial to the emergence of this post-diasporic cinema, as these narratives from texts to screen constitute a fundamental challenge for the negotiation of complex diasporic issues. How does the visual language of these various media shape or define diaspora? Those presenting on this topic and whose papers focus on cinema and other visual narratives/media are encouraged to show short excerpts or clips from their primary texts or to provide handouts rather than simply to describe the visual media. Long, descriptive summaries of film, for instance, are discouraged.
While there are multiple ways in which diaspora is made visible, what are the ways in which diasporas are made invisible? How do diasporas escape the attention of, or are actively made invisible by, the global media the collective institutional consciousness of such bodies as state governments and organisations such as the United Nations, etc.? Are these diasporas invisible because of their relatively small size or because they exist within other diasporas or in the shadow of other, larger visible diasporas? Is their invisibilty the result of a lack of awareness or documentation? Ignorance and apathy? Or are they forced into silence and invisibility due to the exigencies of power? That is to say, is their visibility actively repressed? Or do these diasporas engage in making themselves strategically invisible as a kind of self-defensive cloaking or masking mechanism necessary to survival? Do discrimination, assimilationist ideology or other forces ensure that this takes place either actively or passively over the course of time?
e-Diasporas and Technology
Technology has changed the way we think about diaspora. The internet, youtube, email, skype, social media, etc. have produced what has become known as the virtual diaspora and has had a profound effect on the way that diasporic communities interact with ‘home/land’ and each other. When communication can take place in such an immediate way, distances are shrunk and the boundaries between ‘here’ and ‘there’ are problematised or made more porous if not actually erased. Such connectivity only intensifies the interstitiality or cross-border mobility of diasporans who are able to engage virtually in more than one social environment. In a discussion of so-called e-diasporas, questions of access, mobility, connectivity ultimately lead to questions of privilege. Who is able to connect and who is not? And how does technology and the connections it provides allow the diaspora to reshape ‘home’ from a distance and vice versa?
The Limits of Diaspora — Problematising ‘Diaspora’
What are the ‘limits’ of diaspora? What is its ‘footprint’? What are the inter-generational issues that cause diasporas to evolve over time, to move toward or away from assimilation in then mainstream culture of the present home? How and why do diasporas redefine themselves? In what ways does ‘diaporic identity’ perform a gate-keeping function that includes but also excludes? How are diasporic identities contested? What are some of the ways to identity and define the subject in changing political boundaries where cultural interactions are amplified? What are the processes of social formation and reformation of diasporas in an age of increasing globalisation? What are the circumstances that give diasporas a window of opportunity to redefine their social position in both the place of origin and the current place of residence? How do we ‘problematise’ or critique diaspora?
The Evolution of the Critical Language of Diaspora
This topic is related to the previous one but focuses more specifically on the discipline of diaspora studies itself. What new cross-’ethnoscapes’ and cross-’ideoscapes’ are emerging and what new methods can be used to theorise the web of forces that influences Diasporas? Rogers Brubaker posits the current phenomenon of a diaspora ‘diaspora’ or an increasing dispersal of the concept and the ways that diaspora is represented, understood, and theorised. Stéphane Dufoix discusses the need to “go beyond ‘diaspora’ in the same way that Rogers Brubaker and Frederick Cooper have shown it is useful to go beyond ‘identity’” (Diaspora. Berkeley: U of California P, 2008. 108). What is the current state of diaspora studies and what is the trajectory of its evolution? How does globalisation affect the ways in which we understand diaspora? In what ways are the realities of contemporary diasporas posing challenges to the critical language of the discipline? What’s next?
The Steering Group particularly welcomes the submission of pre-formed panel proposals. Papers will also be considered on any related theme.
What to Send:
300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 8th February 2013. If an abstract is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper should be submitted by Friday 10th May 2013. Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word, WordPerfect, or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation, c) email address, d) title of abstract, e) body of abstract, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: DIAS6 Abstract Submission.
Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). Please note that a Book of Abstracts is planned for the end of the year. We acknowledge receipt and answer to all paper proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.
The conference is part of the ‘Diversity and Recognition’ series of research projects, which in turn belong to the At the Interface programmes of ID.Net. It aims to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and challenging. All papers accepted for and presented at the conference will be published in an ISBN eBook. Selected papers may be invited to go forward for development into 20-25 page chapters for publication in a themed dialogic ISBN hard copy volume.
Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.