CFP: [Postcolonial] The Sacred and the Secular conference 19-21 September 2008

full name / name of organization: 
Sandy White
contact email: 


SEPTEMBER 19-21, 2008

hosted by the School of Humanities (English), University of Southampton,

At a time when the prevalent rhetoric pitches the relationship between
the sacred and the secular as one of conflict, this conference will focus
on a more productive and dialogic exchange between the two concepts. The
associations of the “secular” with enlightenment and progress and
the “sacred” with religious institutionalisation and primitivism are not
only inadequate but also inaccurate.

The secular and the sacred are constituted by the intersecting discourses
of the social, political, cultural, legal, and the economic. This
postcolonial conference will address how these intersections are
manifested through lived, local practices; syncretic music and art forms;
eclectic religious practices; everyday codes of living and resistant
activist movements.

The conference will provide a forum for discussion between academics,
artists, activists, film-makers and arts practitioners. We invite papers
which address the relationship between the sacred and the secular in some
of the following ways:

How are the sacred and/or the secular performed? Papers might address
dance, music, drama, political speech, and how these modes of performance
function in various sites, such as media, parliament, the street,
religious buildings.

How are the sacred and/or the secular represented in literature, film
and/or art? What is the relationship between the sacred and/or the
secular and textual or cultural authority?

What is the relationship between governance and the sacred? And in what
ways must secular states accommodate the sacred in order to sustain a
functioning civil society?

What is the relationship between the sacred and the profane?

Why is conflict so often articulated in terms of oppositions between the
sacred and the secular?

How are the sacred and/or the secular fetishized in media and other
discourses? What are the justifications and dangers of declared secular
states fetishizing state power?

How do sacred and/or secular discourses approach gender, sexuality and/or
the erotic?

What are the intersections between the sacred and/or the secular and the
regulatory discourses of science, medicine, business, economics, and the

Confirmed Speakers include:

Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke University), Kajri Jain (University of Toronto),
Michael Jagessar (University of Birmingham), Patricia Murray (London
Metropolitan University) and writers Nadeem Aslam (author of Maps for
Lost Lovers), Monica Arac de Nyeko (winner of the Caine Prize 2007),
Tahmima Anam (author of The Golden Age), Aamer Hussein (author of Cactus
Town), and Philip Glassborrow (writer and artistic director, Winchester

Please submit a 200-300 word abstract via email or post to the address
below by 6 June 2008:

Sandy White, English, School of Humanities, University of Southampton,
Southampton, S017 1BJ. E-mail:



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Received on Wed Apr 23 2008 - 10:47:14 EDT