Call for Papers -- "Embracing the Other" (a seminar at the ICLA, Vienna, July 2016) Submission Deadline, Aug. 31, 2015

full name / name of organization: 
International Comparative Literature Association

In the past two decades, universities, organizations, and businesses around the western world have placed a great emphasis on celebrating diversity, welcoming members, students, faculty, and employees from different ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, or national identities. Based on such developments, the "other"—as the person belonging to some minority group who had been ostracized in the greater part of the 20th century—has been welcomed from the margins of society to its very center.

At the same time, since most western countries have implemented increasingly tightened laws to prevent workplace harassment and offensive speech, discussions about one's racial, socio-economic, religious, gender, and sexual differences have become increasingly censored, or at best have become a very sensitive topic in our societies at large. The paradoxical effect of such policies is that while they have resulted in a greater diversity, they have also perhaps enhanced individuals' functional roles in our societies (such as co-workers, co-citizens, suppliers, customers, etc.) at the expense of individuals' openness to private or personal interactions. Thus, ironically, such laws may have led to molding uniformity and reducing the differences between individuals by taking away the unfamiliar, uncomfortable, unspeakable element of otherness, therefore, shaping otherness into an institutional norm to the effect of controlling or minimizing it.

In literary, philosophical, and political theories, the concept of the 'other' has long been a site of contention. Fundamental questions such as "What is otherness?" continue to evoke passionate scholarly debates. However, in the changing environment of the 21st century, we suggest to revisit the notion of the other by asking the following questions: What are the effects of globalization and immigration on our understanding of otherness? How is otherness manifested in workplaces, schools, public events, or recreational activities in a global world? On what condition is the other welcomed to the center of industrially developed societies? What are the dangers of embracing the other?

We invite abstracts that address these questions as they occur in 20th and 21st-century literature, philosophy, politics, art, film, electronic media, and performance.
Please submit your abstracts at the official ICLA website:

The deadline is August 31, 2015. If you have any questions regarding your submission, please e-mail us at: or