EACLALS Postgraduate Conference - "Postcolonialism and Labour" - 26-27 March 2011

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Postcolonialism and Labour

EACLALS Postgraduate Conference
Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany

26 - 27 March 2011

Keynote by Professor Frank Schulze-Engler (Goethe University, Frankfurt)

This inaugural postgraduate conference aims to provide a space for debate and discussion on reconfiguring the category of 'Labour' within Postcolonial Studies. Historically speaking, given its Marxist affiliations and the tropes of eurocentrism in universalising 'Labour' as a normative category against the local and particular, Postcolonial Studies has not engaged critically with the notion of 'Labour'. However, the concept is now gaining purchase in the field owing largely to globalisation, international division of labour, immigration and the radical restructuring of work and professions both within and outside the West. Yet, despite these recent developments, Postcolonial Studies can be criticised for effectively abandoning the economic essence of cultures by ceaselessly reworking 'difference', 'hybridity' and 'disjunctures' as the cultural markers of historical and persisting inequalities. In the last twenty-five years we have witnessed the emergence of a wide range of literary and filmic productions that reconfigure the notion of 'Labour', including Hanif Kureishi's "My Beautiful Laundrette" (1985), J. M. Coetzee's "Disgrace" (1999), Monica Ali's "Brick Lane" (2003), Stephen Frears's "Dirty Pretty Things" (2003), Hari Kunzru's "Transmission" (2004), Mohsin Hamid's "The Reluctant Fundamentalist" (2007) and Aravind Adiga's "White Tiger" (2008).

This conference seeks papers that address, but are not limited to, the following questions:

• How, and in what ways, can the concept of 'Labour' be redressed from a culturally contingent perspective (as opposed to totalising Marxist approaches)?
• How does the recent surge of immigrant and diasporic literature and film reflect the workings of 'Labour' in their narratives?
• In light of globalisation – the increasing global division of labour, shifts and uncertainties of financial markets – is there a need for Postcolonial Studies to embrace the Marxist concepts of labour without categorically abandoning its culturalist project?

We invite papers from postgraduates working in the disciplines of literature, history, cultural studies, sociology, film and media studies, human geography, linguistics, politics, religious studies and communication among others. Proposals reflecting an interdisciplinary approach are particularly welcome. Some suggested themes are:

Labour and its Cultural Constructions
• The aesthetics of writing labour
• The visual aesthetics of labour

Labour and Power Relations
• Restructuring labour in the Post-Imperial era
• Neo-imperialism and labour

Labour and Globalisation
• New technologies and new forms of labour
• New technologies and old forms of labour

Labour and Capitalism
• Revisiting Marx in the global economic crisis
• Transformations in the working class

Labour and Gender
• New Feminism in the age of globalisation
• Deconstructing the gender divide in the job market

Labour and Identity
• New Ethnicities for a new labour market
• Crossing national identities

Labour and Exploitation
• Legitimising the exploitation of illegal immigrants
• Illegal exploitation of immigrants

Labour and Exile
• Reflections on exile as survival
• Refugees, migrant workers and exile

We also welcome presentations in the form of workshops where postgraduate students can share and discuss their work in progress. In addition to the paper presentations, postgraduate students are encouraged to present early findings of their research in the form of posters.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words for individual presentations (20 minutes), workshop presentations or poster presentations to eaclals.pg.conference@googlemail.com. Include your name, affiliation, email address, a brief biography and indicate whether you will present in a PANEL, WORKSHOP or with a POSTER.

Abstracts: Deadline for abstracts is: 01 November 2010

For further information about the conference, please see the website at www.eaclals.ulg.ac.be/pg-conference

Participants must be EACLALS members. Please see the EACLALS website at http://www.eaclals.org for subscription rates and further information.