Minority Identities: Rights and Representation

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University of Reading, UK
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This conference aims to explore the interface between creative/critical forms of representation and the claim to material/ontological human and animal rights. It will examine the concepts ‘minority’, ‘identity’, ‘rights’ and ‘representation’ and their possible intersections. It will also interrogate categories and politics of identity, such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, age, and disability, as well as the critical disciplines that invest in these, such as feminism, postcolonialism, and cultural studies.

‘Who has the right to a particular literary terrain,
the right to define the terms of representation?’

Eric J. Sundquist, Strangers in the Land

We invite proposals from postgraduate students and early career researchers working in all areas of creative and/or critical representation (such as literature, film, performance, art, history and philosophy, but not limited to these), for presentations that might engage with, but are not limited to, the following topics:

• In what ways can academic pursuits deliver or work towards justice, equality, and social inclusion?

• What are the ethics implicated in any representation of the minority other?

• If James Clifford declares that ‘We are all Caribbean now […] in our urban archipelagos,’ and Bernard Malamud says that ‘Every man is a Jew,’ in what ways does valorising the minority as a prototype of the postmodern experience obscure the real-world traumas of those who involuntarily remain in such minorities?

• How do global power structures produce and maintain minority status, obscuring it as socially constructed, and how might cultural representations contest this?

• How do the publishing and arts industries brand minority artists, and how is this affected by gender?

• What are the effects of English speakers being ‘translated’ (subtitled, dubbed, or annotated) for reasons such as disability or accent? What other acts of translation need to be considered?

• In what ways might more naturalist or realist forms such as verbatim, testimony, and documentary limit the kinds of rights it is possible to achieve? As a critic, what is at stake when discussing more experimental forms of representation?

Presentations should last twenty minutes and may take the form of traditional papers, or short practice as research demonstrations with accompanying commentary. Abstracts of 300-350 words should be submitted to Amorella Lamount, Clare Reed, and Nicola Abram at minorities@student.reading.ac.uk, by 4th February 2011. These should include your institutional affiliation, a 50-word biography, and any technical requirements. Postgraduate students and early career scholars who wish to attend but not present a paper should register by email as space is limited.

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