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[ecrea] cfp - Failing Identities: Identification and Resistance
Tue Jul 03 11:20:32 GMT 2018
Failing Identities: Identification and Resistance
International Conference (University of Liège, 20-21 September 2018)
Contact: (letl /at/ uliege.be)
This conference aims to scrutinize, clarify and elaborate upon the
concept of identity, which ranks among the most (ab)used concepts in the
humanities since the end of the 20th century.
The popularity of the concept is, first and foremost, to be situated in
the aftermath of the linguistic turn, which led to identity being
conceived of as the product of discursive interpellations. This
theoretical reframing of the subject constitutes the theoretical basis
of multiple strands of discourse theory and analysis, and of various
types of (post)poststructuralist theory.
The pervasive presence of identity as an object of study is, however,
and to an even greater degree, also explained by the postmodern critique
of universality and the concomitant deconstruction of the universal
subject as a fiction subservient to particular (masculine, white,
western, heterosexual…) interests. It is precisely this critique that
drives the various forms of progressive identity politics that are so
conspicuously present today.
To put it simply and provocatively: where do we go from here? This
fundamental question translates into a wide range of more specific
questions, such as:
Is what (post)structuralism calls the decentred subject a mere
passive recipient of discursive interpellations, or does it resist and,
if so, in which way(s)? How should this resistance be understood – as an
inability or rather as a refusal to accept discursive interpellations?
As a rearticulation and ‘slanting’ of a given discourse? As a form of
more or less subtle and agile negotiation with hegemonic pressures? As
the articulation of a counterhegemonic discourse?
How paradoxical and/or ambivalent are identification processes? If
a seemingly official and explicit refusal often hides a more fundamental
implicit identification (‘I am no racist, but…’) and vice versa (‘We are
determined to tackle tax evasion’), how do both levels interact with one
another and what audiences are they intended for? How can identificatory
acts and utterances be construed as positioning the subject within the
conflictual and dialogic contexts from which they emerged?
How easy is it to cancel or replace identifications? Have
‘postmodern subjects’ really become fluid and endlessly malleable in a
‘liquid modernity’ (Zygmunt Bauman), or are they tough, inert and
persistent? Do they have ‘hard kernels’ and, if so, what would be the
nature of these? How important is the impact of discursive sedimentation
on individual subjects, cultures and societies? How do deliberate or
involuntary cancellations of identifications affect the subject? Are
they emancipatory or destructive – or both?
Does the postmodern critique of the universal subject not in fact
continue to refer to a universal horizon of equality and justice? Should
this critique be maintained or should it give way to a dialectical
vision of the opposition between the universal and the particular?
Are ‘progressive identity politics’ more needed than ever or are
they at risk of becoming essentialist and unbearably reductionist stances?
Are ‘progressive identity politics’ genuinely progressive or do
they allow the researchers involved to view themselves as ‘progressive’?
What makes them superior to traditional, conservative identity politics?
Do they hamper attempts to unite progressive groups and efforts, uniting
only ‘deplorable’ antiliberal, reactionary forces, as is argued by such
varied authors as Eric Hobsbawm, Terry Eagleton, Slavoj Žižek, Vivek
Chibber and Mark Lilla?
What are relevant methodological underpinnings of research on
identity and identification? Which linguistic means can be observed to
index identity (as one of their multiple functions), and how can we
classify them meaningfully? For example, how can such phenomena as taboo
expressions, metaphors, language varieties (e.g. sociolects and slang),
language contact and learner languages enhance our understanding of
identity and identification? What about language policy and (official
and unofficial) puristic movements?
Keynotes & discussants
New York University
Communication: “Class and Resistance after the Cultural Turn”
Marc De Kesel
Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
Communication: “Identity of/as Failing”
Université Catholique de Louvain
Communication: “Invoking and questioning identity in sociolinguistics:
scientific and political issues”
Université de Liège
Joost de Bloois
Universiteit van Amsterdam
University of Warwick
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