11th Sep 2014 - 12th Sep 2014
Grand Parade, University of Brighton
This interdisciplinary conference addresses the role of historical representation in shaping radical cultural, aesthetic, and political meanings of ‘race’. Celebratory conceptions of identity, e.g. ‘hybridity’, ‘transnationalism’, and the ‘global’, developed within the abstracted frames of postmodernism often fail to account for the nature and complexity of contemporary processes of identity formation, or for their contested political mobilisations and contexts. The conference is interested in critical historical and cultural representations that are rooted in particular histories and cultures and their legacies in the contemporary moment.
The conference questions what it means to turn to history to appeal for recognition and redress in the present. It will address why the appeal to ‘origins’ remains such a powerful tool of oppression and of resistance, and how traditions of political struggle are currently being rearticulated. We are interested in why certain forms of resistance to oppression are often framed within the context of trauma rather than historical agency. From the election of Obama to the increasingly effective slavery reparations movement, and from South Africa’s post-apartheid complexity to the rise of far-Right parties in Europe, and the reconfiguration of Europe as a fortress, ‘race’ remains a lightening rod telegraphing the fault-line within liberal democracies, and exposing their hidden histories.
The conference aims to contribute to current debates concerning the ethics and limits of representation in questioning constructions of 'race' and their re-workings in, for example, specifically Black and diasporic aesthetic and intellectual traditions, e.g. archival absences and traces; the politics of historical commemoration; twentieth century African American aesthetics and Communism; the legacies of transatlantic slavery; colonial legacies and postcolonial identities; 'race', agency and the politics of identity; trauma and representation; the historical and contemporary intersections of ‘race’ gender and sexuality; the politics of reparations; interracial anti-racisms and African Atlantic cultural formations.
Questions for consideration might include (but are not limited to the following):
Confirmed keynote speakers: Dr Priyamvada Gopal (University of Cambridge), and Dr Brian Kelly (Queen’s University, Belfast).
We invite proposals from across the disciplines. They may concern historical and/or contemporary issues or moments and address any representational form. We welcome proposals for single papers, panels, or for plenary discussions. (Please provide a brief rationale for a panel or a plenary.) If your proposal speaks to one of the conference questions listed above, please specify this in your submission. Postgraduate submissions are of course welcome.
Read a report on the conference in our Research News publication Summer 2015