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Uncommon Wealths: Riches and Realities - 15th Triennial Conference of EACLALS
full name / name of organization:
Conference Convenor: Helga Ramsey-Kurz
UNCOMMON WEALTHS: RICHES AND REALITIES
We welcome proposals for both papers and panels on any of these or other aspects of UNCOMMON WEALTHS until 31 August, 2013.
ABSTRACTS FOR PAPERS of 20 minutes duration should be no longer than 250 words.
SUBMISSIONS FOR PANELS of 90 minutes duration should not exceed 450 words and contain the names of all speakers.
CALL FOR PAPERS
“In the last analysis, we must produce truth as we must produce wealth, indeed we must produce truth in order to produce wealth in the first place.”
In light of the natural disasters and political and economic upheavals marking the new millennium, it seems more than timely that EACLALS should use its 15th triennial conference to retrace its conceptual roots in the Commonwealth and reconsider the notions of wealth and commonality.
Postcolonial discourse has preferred to utilise poverty, subalternity and disadvantage as theoretical categories and rarely examined what Foucault calls the “abuses and arrogance of wealth” or refined wealth as a measure of advantage and disadvantage. Yet the production of wealth has been both a motivation behind colonial expansion and a justification for it. Although interventionist acts and overseas investments have consistently been masked in a liberal rhetoric of benevolent “common good,” all too often their purpose and effect have been the enrichment of a few, the accumulation of wealths not commonly shared.
While scholarly interest in the resultant social, political and cultural asymmetries has lent greater visibility to the exploited and marginalised, it has also eclipsed the excesses of today’s rich and super-rich. These demand our attention though, especially as the discrepancies between the wealthy and the poor are being reinforced by the global financial crisis and as protest movements against corruption and economic injustice are drawing hitherto unimagined constituencies. The Arab Spring and the Occupation of Wall Street are cases in point, demonstrating the urgent need for both a critical reassessment of such concepts as “general interest” and “public welfare” and a careful appraisal of resources that still give currency to the idea of a commonly shared wealth. Such resources include also more uncommon wealths: riches not necessarily perceived as such, if only because of their inherent resistance to commodification.
Commonwealth literatures and languages, the core of our discipline, embody such riches and at the same time re-present other cultural wealths threatened by monetisation, consumerism and affluenza. How can such a heritage, which counteracts exclusive ownership and values shared experience, sharpen our awareness of different types of wealth and poverty? How can the ‘truth-telling’ of literature undermine strategic efforts to conceal and distort economic and political realities? How does it improve our understanding of the material conditions under which we live and the metaphoric riches at our disposal? What alternative scenarios of well-being, what new visions of prosperity, what innovative approaches to affluence can writing, especially from the Commonwealth, offer to a world believing itself held hostage by market demands and the neoliberal imperative to produce capital growth? What warnings does it spell out against the fragility of certain wealths and the devastating costs of others? What future does Commonwealth literature envisage for concepts like “commonwealth” and the “common weal”?
1. Agents of Enrichment – Enablers and Gatekeepers:
2. Trajectories: Processes/Narratives of Enrichment:
3. The Power of Wealth – Power and Wealth – Politics of Wealth:
4. The Rhetoric of Wealth and the Wealthy:
5. The Ethics of Wealth:
6. Aesthetics of Wealth:
7. The Other Side of the Coin: Poverty as Cause and Consequence of Wealth:
8. Geographies and Histories of Wealth:
9. A Wealth of Wealths:
10. Communicating Wealth:
11. Literary Wealth and Value – the Canonical and the Popular: