The Corpse as a Contact Zone

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Early American Borderlands Conference
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Seeking papers for an open panel at the Early American Borderlands Conference, the third cross-disciplinary summit for Ibero/Anglo Americanists. Please submit a one-page proposal and CV to Kathleen Donegan [] by August 31, 2009. The panel description is below.

Grave New World: The Corpse as a Contact Zone

If the corpse, in its deep uncanniness, always and everywhere troubles the relationship between place and no-place, between familiarity and strangeness, between living being and gross matter, then the ubiquitous presence of corpses in the borderlands of the colonial world was especially complicated. This panel seeks papers that analyze corpses as signifying systems in the contested spaces of colonial settlement. Did corpses have a special function in or as contact zones? How were bodily remains deployed to create meaning for the living? How did cultural forms for tending the dead transform in the face of massive mortality? How were corpses displayed as standards or symbols, and how were they read or misread by antagonists? When people battled over corpses, what were they fighting for? What happens when we think of the dead as a population that emerged from colonial encounters? Given the persistent attention paid to graves, burial, spectacles, piked heads and scattered remains across a wide variety of colonial texts, comparative and cross-disciplinary approaches are especially encouraged.

Kathleen Donegan
Department of English
University of California, Berkeley

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