Cultural and Political Exchange in the English-Speaking World: Dynamics, Resistance, Conflict (October 22-23, 2010)

full name / name of organization: 
Trevor Harris, Université François-Rabelais, Tours (France)
contact email: 

The conference organisers invite proposals for papers which privilege the analysis of artistic, social, political or cultural flashpoints in the English-Speaking world.

In order to better understand the transnational, even global nature of the exchanges between different countries in the Anglophone world in the 20th and 21st centuries, the Anglo-American Research Group at the University of Tours (France) is proposing a conference which foregrounds the notions of exchange and interaction. The development of Global Studies, or the conferences and growing fund of published research devoted to various aspects of the "British World", testify not only to the vitality of work in this area, but also to the perceived necessity for the application to often intractable issues of an approach combining the explanatory power of a number of disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The extensive and intricate networks which have long existed (in trade and commerce, but also in the arts, education, technology transfer...) in the Anglophone world, as well as the large-scale and long-standing circulation of people, ideas and practices, mean that these countries form a highly ambiguous, even paradoxical structure or set of structures. They are often closely integrated, yet remain very flexible. The English-speaking world works openly towards greater standardisation in a number of areas, yet constantly threatens to divide into competing centres of activity, or even fragment radically under the strain of regionalist or communitarian practices and claims. The "global" approach can itself be perceived in radically different ways: is it itself an attempt to promote a new "universalism", a new informal empire? And yet, frequently, individuals or groups use this perspective as a public space (real or virtual) in which protest or subversive activity can take place.

The dynamics of the English-Speaking world, the push towards unification or standardisation, can rarely, if at all, be considered in isolation from the tensions, resistance and open conflict which the "system" often generates.

The conference organisers invite proposals for papers which privilege the analysis of artistic, social, political or cultural flashpoints in the English-Speaking world. The following list is deliberately wide-ranging, and is only meant as a series of suggestions for possible areas of analysis:

- the perception, reception or reputation of a specific author or literary work(s) outside her/his country of origin; the creation of global "brands" around specific authors or works;
- the English language and national policies or identities: for example, the TEFL or TESOL industries, their workings, their economic and cultural consequences; the characteristics of international, global or "world" English;
- the character, role or importance of certain specific organisations promoting cultural activity and exchange (the British Council, the Commonwealth Secretariat);
- ethnicity and minority identities in the English-speaking world: in particular, the manufacture and merchandising/exportation of ethnicity – its objectives and consequences;
- any conflictual aspect of the British imperial heritage in contact with the process of globalisation: the current relevance, limits or evolution of the concept of "informal" or "cultural" empire;
- comparative approaches to gender and sexuality, whether in literature and the arts, the media, or social and judicial contexts; a similar approach to religious phenomena is also possible – the inclusion/rejection of aspects of Sharia (Jewish, Somali...) law, for example, within the American or British legal systems;
- issues of international law, human rights and conflict resolution (peace studies);
- tensions and conflicts around questions of ecology, environmental protection and sustainable development and how these have affected relations between Anglophone countries

Proposals for papers should be sent to Trevor Harris ( by June 30, 2010. Any requests for further information about the conference may be sent to the same address.