Spaces of Identity - Part 24

posted by usha on 2007/05/27 09:52

[ Spaces of Identity ]

Some topics - such as migration and identity - have a revival within the discourses of culture and new Europe. One of the more promising and inventive projects is the conference Migration and Literature in Contemporary Europe to be held in Copenhagen, November 8-10, 2007:

Literature by migrants - those not at home where they write - foregrounds many questions concerning cultural and linguistic identity, not least the relationships between identity, language and territory. Fundamentally, such literature challenges the categories according to which literary disciplines have traditionally (that is, since the late nineteenth century) organised their research.

The conference will focus on contemporary European literature in order to investigate, primarily, the nexus between migration, nation, literature, cultural loyalties and social and personal identities. Within the last thirty years Europe has undergone a radical change: the European Union has shown itself to be a force at both supranational and regional (sub-national) levels. The idea of the nation-state - one territory, one people, one language, one faith, one currency - is no longer coherent in practice, nor is it self-evidently desirable.

Simultaneously, Europe as an enduring name and symbol of cultural value is destabilized. The recent and potential
accession to the EU of new member states, including Turkey, has brought ou the Western European bias of the old idea of 'Europe'; and, in consequence of large movements of population both into and away from European nations, the residents of Europe now present highly complex social, cultural and
linguistics cartographies. Traditional territorial mapping, with its
political and natural boundaries and features, is increasingly inadequate as a means of understanding Europe today. So also is the traditional way of studying European literature in terms of distinct languages and national traditions.

The conference invited papers that deal with themes and questions within the following fields:

  • Theoretical concepts of culture: multiculturalism/interculturalism/transculturalism, postcolonialism, cultural identity politics.
  • Concepts of place and location: exile, diaspora, migration and nomadism, urban vs. rural landscapes; constructions of 'home' and 'homeland'.
  • Methods and interdisciplinarity: how is migration literature received and treated by national philologies, and by comparative literature, postcolonial studies and other developments in literary and cultural studies?
  • Generic and formal questions in European migration literature: which genres and styles are employed? Questions of rhetorics and aesthetics, intertextuality, transmediality, multilingualism, genre hybrids (autobiography, documentary, historiography).
  • Themes: identity, cultural belonging, memory, gender, religion, the colonial past of Europe (not least that of Denmark and its former colonies in West Africa and the Caribbean, and its continuing colonial role in Greenland).
  • Political, sociological and technological dimensions: migration literature and cultural institutions (media, publishing, educational systems).
  • Translation studies: what might translation studies contribute to our understanding of migration literature, and what impact might the latter have on our understanding of the nature and role of translation and its conventional concepts of 'source' and 'target' languages.

The conference is organized by the Department of English, Germanic and Romance Studies and the Department of
Arts and Cultural Studies
, University of Copenhagen; it is sponsored by 'Europe in Transition', one of the University of Copenhagen's interdisciplinary and faculty-wide research priority areas.


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