CFP: The Contentious Question of Culture(s) (12/15/06; 3/1/07-3/3/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Shaswati Mazumdar
contact email: 

Department of Germanic & Romance Studies
University of Delhi, Delhi - 110007



The Contentious Question of Culture(s) in Contemporary Societies, 1-3 =
March 2007

Culture emerged as a keyword at the turn of the eighteenth to the =
nineteenth centuries, as a term imbued with changing meanings and =
questions in reaction to the experience of modernization. Its =
inflationary use in more recent times draws attention to the experience =
of more recent changes, from decolonisation to the contemporary process =
of globalisation and the increasing migration of people both within and =
across national borders. International migrants according to estimates =
today account for the world's fifth most populous "country". Dramatic =
changes in demographic composition are being further fuelled by ongoing =
forms of political integration such as the process of Europeanisation. =
In this context, the multiple meanings invested in the word culture are =
markers of real, often violent contemporary conflicts as well as of =
their frequent mythification. From multiculturalism to wars in the name =
of culture, from disputes on history to debates on state policy, the =
question of culture(s) has evidently become a central concern in =
responses to the nature of contemporary society and its future, even as =
it stands in apparent contradiction to the decidedly economic forces =
driving the processes of change.=20

Not surprisingly, the use of the word culture, and its often-unstated =
assumptions, has given rise to considerable theoretical controversy. =
What exactly do we mean when we talk of culture? Is it associated with =
language, ethnicity, religion, nationality, a civilization, a way of =
life or everyday social practices? Is it conceived as relatively =
unchanging, as something that is threatened by the impact with other =
'cultures' or as a set of ideas and practices that is subject to =
historical and social change? How are these notions of culture affected =
by the changing forms of political, economic and military domination and =
the vicissitudes of the postcolonial world? Questions of representation =
and interpretation of cultures have greatly impacted on these =
theoretical debates, both in the field of the social sciences and in the =
study of literature, film and the arts. Curiously, the debates have even =
entered the field of the natural sciences as seen in the coining of the =
word 'meme' as a unit of cultural information in analogy to the word =

The seminar will bring together scholars from different disciplines to =
address these questions. It will explore the various notions of culture =
underlying contemporary debates, the artistic forms with which writers =
and other artists have reflected on these notions and their social and =
political implications.
[Submission of abstracts (200-300 words): 15 December 2006]=20

Additional Information:=20

Each paper will be allotted 20-30 minutes for presentation. Given the =
shortage of resources, the Department is unable to offer travel fare. =
However, local hospitality will be provided in the University Guest =
House for outstation participants. A selection of papers of the seminar =
will be published.

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Received on Sun Nov 12 2006 - 23:13:23 EST