The Veil and Cultural Dialogue/Conflict in Global Fiction, 4-5th May 2009,

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Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
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Call for Papers:

The Veil and Cultural Dialogue/Conflict in Global Fiction, 4-5th May 2009, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark.

Deadline: 25th March 2009
Contact: Dr Tabish Khair, AND

The veil has become a common sign of cultural conflict in many parts of the world. It can also be seen as a topic for cultural dialogue.

The veil is a symbol for covering up, and also for shutting out. It is imposed on women, and it is appropriated by women, all for different reasons and to act out and perform different ideologies and identities. In addition, it is analysed and vested with connotations by every subject who comes in contact with it, regardless on which side of the veil the subject speaks from. In disparate cultural spaces, the veil – either as 'purdah' or 'hijab' or in its various other forms – is constantly being negotiated and re-negotiated in terms of human rights, women empowerment, cultural hegemony, representation etc. As seen from the current political debates, the veil functions as a site for political manifestations, both on a local and a global level. If there is a 'global' sign of cultural conflict/dialogue today, it is probably the veil – and the roots of this conflict/dialogue go back at least to the 18th century, as is indicated by travel writers from the 18th and 19th centuries. If the veil is a global sign of contention/dialogue, some of this contention/dialogue takes place in the arena of global fiction. How does fiction operate as a space for contentions and dialogues? It has been argued that literature, and particularly fiction, has always been 'global'. Reading is a habit that transgresses physical borders, as well as cultural and psychological borders. The 'dialogue' between text and reader, between writer and reader, despite dislocations in space and time, is fundamental. It is then little wonder that fiction – written in different languages – engages in very complex ways with the 'veil'. What do these engagements tell us about the representations and the connotations of the veil in today's 'globalised' world? What do they tell us about the nature of over-determined cultural signs in a world of 'free-floating' signifiers and signifieds? What above all do they tell us about the possibilities and limits of cultural 'dialogue'?

Purely theoretical papers will also be most welcome. Papers with socio-historical approaches will be considered, but preference will be given to those dealing with primary 'creative' literature or philosophical/theoretical perspectives.

Scholars and research students attached to Nordic institutions are entitled to be considered for travel grants by the organisers of the seminar. The seminar is being financed by NordForsk and hosted by Aarhus University, Denmark.

Abstracts of not more than 100 words should be sent to the main organiser, Dr Tabish Khair, at and before 25th March 2009. Designation and affiliation (and application for travel funding, if required) should be clearly specified.