Representations of Africa: Hybrid Identities, Diasporic Communities and the Politics of Representation (Albuquerque, April 8-9)

full name / name of organization: 
Graduate Cultural Studies Conference, University of New Mexico (Albuquerque)

Call for Papers

Third Annual Cultural Studies Graduate Student Conference at the

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

April 8-9, 2011

Keynote speaker: Elisabeth Boyi, Stanford University

Representations of Africa:
Hybrid Identities, Diasporic Communities and the Politics of Representation

They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented.

--Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte

That a purportedly universalizing movement of "globalization" should have the effect of rendering Africa once again "dark" in the eyes of the wider world suggests an intimate link, in this respect, between the question of economic marginalization in a global economy and that of membership in a global society.

--James Ferguson, Global Shadows: Africa in the Neoliberal World Order

Africa is a conundrum. It is a space and a discourse of conflicting fantasies and repressed realities. Within this vast, complex web of ideas surrounding Africa, portrayals of exotic purity conflict with images of deceptive darkness. Can we understand Africa beyond the colonial language that once characterized it? What are the conflicts and conversations between previous and present discourses on Africa? Exploring and understanding past and present representations of Africa is crucial as we become more interconnected in an idealized global world.

We are seeking contributions that investigate past and present ways in which Africa has been represented in literature, the arts, film, philosophy, public debates, etc. While our focus is on Africa, we welcome submissions dealing with similar issues in other regions of the world.

Leading Questions are:
How is Africa represented in the global imagery? What is the relationship/conflict between the ethnic and diasporic communities? What is the conflict between ethnicity and national identity? How have certain representations of Africa been politically motivated? How are romantic and utopian representations of Africa ideologically motivated? How are dystopian depictions ideologically motivated? How is cultural hybridity negotiated? Is it possible to have a hybrid identity? How is the image of Africa recreated in new media? What are the place and role of Africa in the environmental crisis?

Possible session topics include but are not limited to:
*Politics of representation
* Hybridity, border-zone identities and border-crossing
*Africa in globalization
* Romantic and utopian traditions of depicting Africa
* African geographies
* Environmental degradations
* African philosophy in the United States
*Mobility and new African identities in the world
*Ethnicity and National Identity
*Gender and Sexuality

Conference Structure: This conference/workshop will be comprised of the keynote address and two sessions on Friday, followed by two additional sessions on Saturday. Central to the conference is a graduate seminar styled workshop on Saturday. This workshop is led by the keynote speaker and designed to explore the issues presented and discussed in more detail and depth. We strongly invite all participants to attend this final event. Presenters are requested to arrange their travel so that they can participate in the entire event, including the workshop.

Please send a 250 word abstract along with a brief biographical statement to by March 7, 2011. The email must include your name and affiliation. Notification of acceptance by March 14th, 2011. Potential housing available with Grad students and possible limited travel funding is available, please inquire!