CFP: [Postcolonial] Sounds of Silence: Silence and Speech in Cultural, Political and Ethical Contexts (ACLA 2009)

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Andrea Cooper
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Call for Papers

Sounds of Silence: Silence and Speech in Cultural, Political and Ethical
Contexts (ACLA 2009, Harvard University, March 26-29)

In her article “Freedom’s Silence,” Wendy Brown examines notions of
silence and speech and questions the implicit equation between freedom
and speech. Following Foucault’s notion of silence in The History of
Sexuality, Brown notes that silence is a potentially subversive force,
and yet it is discursively produced. Its relation to power is thus
complex and ambiguous, as silence is oppositional neither to power nor to
speech. “Silence,” writes Brown, “is identical neither with secrecy nor
with not speaking. Rather, it signifies a particular relation to
regulatory discourses, as well as a possible niche for the practice of
freedom within those discourses.”

In our seminar we wish to examine and to complicate the notion of silence
within various social, cultural, ethical, linguistic and political
contexts. Notions of silencing and muteness can be explored in all
discourses involving power relations: How does globalization treat the
local language? What is the sound of silence in colonialism? What is
being said? What is muted and left in abeyance? Must silence and speech
be oppositional to one another? What is the role of silence in writing
after trauma and how can the paradox of silence and writing be settled?
Papers may also investigate silence as the language of the
oppressed “other”/subaltern, or alternately focus on the subversive
nature of silence.

We welcome papers from different disciplines and fields that address and
critically explore literary and other representations of silence and of
the silenced, as well as philosophical, linguistic and ethical
discussions of silence and speech.


For more information, contact seminar organizers at:
and, and visit our seminar page on the ACLA

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Received on Sun Oct 05 2008 - 21:31:21 EDT