[UPDATE] 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, professional organizations, and businesses around the western world have placed a great emphasis on celebrating diversity on their grounds, welcoming members, students, faculty, and employees from different ethnic, religious, gender, sexual, and class identities. This trend toward embracing otherness has often been instituted and protected by laws and policies in different countries, and employees have been trained to effectively maintain agreeable and harmonious work atmosphere with each other. Based on such developments, the other—as the person belonging to some minority group who had been ostracized and marginalized in the greater part of the 20th century—has been welcomed to move from the margins of society to its very center.

At the same time, since most western countries have implemented increasingly tightened policies 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 the workplace and in our societies at large. The paradoxical effect of such wide spread policies is that while they have positively 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 with each other. Thus, ironically, instead of equal opportunity laws truly celebrating differences to foster appreciation for otherness, such laws may have contributed to molding uniformity and sameness, reducing the differences between individuals by taking away the unfamiliar, uncomfortable, unspeakable element of otherness, therefore, shaping otherness (or difference) into an institutional norm to the effect of controlling, minimizing, or erasing otherness.
In literary, philosophical, and political theories, the concept of the 'other' has long been a disputed site in questions of culture, gender, race, religion, sexuality, or nationality. Fundamental questions such as "What is otherness?" continue to evoke passionate scholarly debates. However, in the new and changing environment that shapes the global world of the 21st century, we suggest to add to the existing theories of the 'other' by asking the following questions: What are the effects of globalization and immigration on our conceptualization of otherness? At what cost or expense has the movement of the other from the periphery to the center occurred? 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 in the west? What are the dangers of embracing the other?
We invite abstract submissions that address these questions as they occur in 20th
and 21st-century literature, philosophy, politics, art, film, electronic media, and performance. Inter-disciplinary approaches are particularly encouraged.

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: rkostova@jsu.edu or pschweit@su.edu