CFP: Human Communities & Their Others (11/30/05; ACLA, 3/23/06-3/26/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Naomi Silver
contact email:

ACLA 2006, Princeton University
The Human and Its Others

Seminar title: Human Communities and their Others

Since Plato and Aristotle ‘the human’ has been understood in terms of
being-in-community, a being shaped by the unifying principles and techniques of
shared civic and social responsibility. These principles and techniques are
often assumed to be complementary: on the one hand, an often totalizing idea of
‘community’—the myths, fantasies, and ideologies which found it, and which
typically assert its cohesion and communion around such markers as ‘nation,’
‘culture,’ ‘citizenship,’ ‘race,’ ‘ethnicity,’ ‘religion,’ and so on—and, on
the other, the particular rituals, practices, and performances enacted to
sustain and reiterate this idea—rituals of eating, dancing, singing, mourning,
gaming, warring, orating, poetizing, among others.

However, while these practices aim to affirm the commonality or self-sameness of
a community’s members, several recent theorists (Anderson, Nancy, Agamben,
Butler) have suggested that the repetitive, citational form of ritual itself
introduces a tension or an otherness into the communal structure, ‘unworking’
the community in the very work of its perpetuation, and opening it out to
broader ethical and political contexts. Further theorists (Said, Benhabib,
Pratt, Laclau and Mouffe) have highlighted the oppositional practices—political
action, parody, improvisation—that human ‘others’ have turned against
communities’ claims to univocity.

This seminar is interested both in analyses of specific human practices and the
tensions they introduce into a particular historical idea of community, and
also in considerations, within particular theories of community, of the
confrontations between commonality and difference, ‘humans’ and ‘others.’

All proposals should be submitted via the webform found at the conference
website: Follow the
links to 'submit a paper proposal.'

Naomi Silver
University of Michigan

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Received on Mon Nov 21 2005 - 16:34:11 EST

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