CFP: [International] CFP

full name / name of organization: 
Silvia Schultermandl

22-25 October 2009, Graz


What do airports, U.S. military bases, The Huffington Post and the dinner
table have in common? They all are spaces where global phenomena manifest
themselves in a local U.S. context. Emblematic of the underlying patterns
that shape cultural encounters in the U.S. these cultural geographies evoke
Mary Louise Pratt’s concept of “contact zone,” that is “the space in which
people geographically and historically separated come into contact with
each other and establish ongoing relationships, usually involving
conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict.” In
the context of the “spatial turn” that has heavily influenced the field of
American Studies since the 1990s, Pratt’s concept has not only taken on new
meanings but has also been challenged by other theories of space. Marc
Augé, for instance, argues that our age of “supermodernity” is producing
more and more "non-places," which lack the main parameters of ‘place’
(relation, history and identity) and thus reduce social relations to
temporary and anonymous encounters.

Taking cues from both, Pratt’s emphasis on the “interactive,
improvisational dimensions” of colonial contact zones as well as Augé’s
more pessimistic notion about the erosion of place, we encourage paper
proposals that investigate how global interactions manifest themselves in
specific local spaces of American culture in and outside of the U.S. We
especially invite contributions that discuss the various cultural
encounters and conflicts by approaching space as a culturally constructed
and experienced entity in line with concepts such as Soja's “Thirdspace,”
Nora’s “Lieux de Mémoire,” Sassen’s “Global City” or Lowe’s “Intimate

The specific contact spaces that we have in mind include, but are not
limited to, the following:
• The Beauty Parlor
• Ellis Island/Angel Island
• Times Square
• The U.S. Embassy
• The U.S.-Mexican boarder
• Hospitals
• The Immigration Ship
• Ground Zero
• The American Studies Department
• The Pistachio Farm in Fresno County
• The Subway
• Four Corners
• The Shopping Mall
• …..
The conference will be conducted in an “Open Space” format. Accepted papers
(short papers, approximately 4000 â€" 5000 words) will be made available to
the participants by being placed online prior to the conference. On the
conference itself, workshops (open discussion forums) will be formed ad hoc
according to the interests of the participants: any participant can suggest
a workshop topic. Thereby, the conference theme of "contact spaces" with
its issues of openness, flexibility and spontaneity should also find its
formal expression in the organizational form.

Please send your 250 â€" 300 word paper proposals and a 100 word biographical
statement by June 1, 2009 to:

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Received on Tue Nov 18 2008 - 03:35:21 EST