The Diasporas Project
Friday 3rd July – Sunday 5th July 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom
Call for Presentations:
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: How and why do diasporas continue to exist as a category generally and as individual diasporic communities? 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?
Proposals for presentations, papers, performances, workshops, and pre-formed panels are invited on any of the following themes:
Diasporas and Complications:
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 the mainstream culture of the present home? How and why do diasporas redefine themselves? In what ways does ‘diasporic identity’ perform a gate-keeping function that includes but also excludes? How are diasporic identities contested? In considering the relationship between exile and diaspora or between economic and educational migration and diaspora, is it critical (and if so, why is it critical) to not conflate these and other displacements under the aegis of diaspora? What are some of the ways to identify 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 Diaspora Studies:
This topic is related to the previous one but focuses more specifically on the discipline of diaspora studies itself. What new variations on the theme of diaspora 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). In this regard, is it possible (and useful) to talk of the “post-diasporic” in terms of individual and collective identities? 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?
In the context of intensified globalisation, multiple or serial displacements, and ongoing processes of cultural creolisation/hybridisation and multiculturalism, it has become increasingly untenable to speak of individual diasporas as discrete phenomena. In what ways do diasporas become entangled as they multiply, intersect, and evolve? What are the effects of these entanglements on individual diasporans? If, for instance, multiple communities (diasporic or otherwise) lay concurrent overlapping claims on a single individual as a result of these intersections, what are the results? What is at stake?
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 the 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?
Diasporas and the City:
As centres of both centripetal and centrifugal cultural and social forces, the world’s cities have attracted huge numbers of migrating populations and have become home to a growing number of diasporic communities. Cities continue to act as staging grounds for emerging globalised cultures as they attract massive numbers of inter- and intra-national migrants, host their interactions, and then become the places from which these newly interactive cultures are disseminated (a problematic term, to be sure) or broadcast into national “hinterlands” as well as across national borders. Cities continue to play a key role as gathering points for displaced communities and are often represented as urban utopias or “metrotopias”, sites of opportunity as well as safe(r) havens for those fleeing discrimination and/or violence. However, one of the problems with painting too rosy a picture of the city as the metrotopia is that it can be as violent or indifferent as it is welcoming and accepting. Cities can also be the locus of stigmatisation as institutions of power shift focus away from older, neglected urban neighbourhoods. Finally, in many cases, traditional ethnic enclaves, once located in older and often decaying or neglected parts of cities, have in recent decades tended to shift to the suburbs or have become dispersed in the urban fabric. How do these shifts affect the ways in which diasporic communities are (self-)identified and interact with other communities and the mainstream culture? And how is the city itself transformed? We encourage submission of papers or presentations that consider the role of the city in diaspora studies.
The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.
What to Send:
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word abstracts should be submitted by Friday 13th March 2015. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 22nd May 2015. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; proposals may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: DIAS8 Proposal Submission.
All abstracts will be at least double blind peer reviewed. 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). 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.
Rob Fisher: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jonathan Rollins: email@example.com
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 proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook. Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.
Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit a proposal for presentation.
For further details of the conference, please visit:
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.