Culture and Conflict: Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference 2024

deadline for submissions: 
January 19, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
University of Washington, Seattle
contact email: 

Culture and Conflict


“In the struggle between tradition and innovation, which is the basic theme of internal cultural development in historical societies, innovation always wins. But cultural innovation is generated by nothing other than the total historical movement—a movement which, in becoming conscious of itself as a whole, tends to go beyond its own cultural presuppositions and toward the suppression of all separations.”

Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle


This passage from Debord illustrates one of the numerous amalgamations of culture and conflict’s interactions in history and human endeavors. Defining culture as the sum total of knowledge and representations of lived experiences, he situates it at the intersection of class and historical societies, noting its drive towards autonomy and generalizing power. Debord traces its birth back to Romanticism’s rupture with myth-based society, when it gained its independence and embarked on a quest for self-enrichment. That undertaking resulted in culture’s inadequacy and self-abolition, rendering it a vain search for lost unity and legitimacy. The “struggle between tradition and innovation” can be understood as culture’s effort to regain that which was lost. Does Debord’s characterization of internal cultural development in historical societies help to explain the relationship between culture and conflict? Or, is this model perhaps too restricted in the face of new and unprecedented challenges, such as climate change and the navigation of a digitally mediated world?

The Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference 2024, taking place at the University of Washington, examines possible reasons for the occurrence of conflict within and between cultures. While culture relies on continuities for a degree of stability, creative destruction and the collision of discordant paradigms can generate transformative energies. Simultaneously, culture contains a secondary and exclusionary meaning of a perceived authentic whole. This romantic vision can engender conflict as it encounters the other, those outside of the cultural body. Such propositions grapple with—and can be read against—manifold disruptive events, such as geopolitical conflicts, economic upheaval, social inequality, revolution, natural and artificial catastrophes, climate change, and further contexts.

We are seeking proposals that delve into all facets of the relationship between culture and conflict. Our conference is open to all interested parties, regardless of field, academic status, or methodology and welcomes diverse responses to our themes and questions.




Possible Questions:

  • How have specific cultural conflicts generated meaningful social change?
  • How have monolithic interpretations of cultural normativity been used to foment conflict?
  • How do new forms of media transform the state of culture and conflict?
  • What is the role of intercultural exchange in the mitigation or prevention of conflict?
  • What do examples of culturally heterogeneous states tell us about the relationship between culture and conflict?
  • Where is the relationship between diversity, integration, and assimilation?
  • How do ethnonational ideologies manifest in new media?
  • How are narratives surrounding counter-cultural movements constructed?  
  • Is conflict integral to processes of cultural transformation?
  • How does technology engender cultural change?



Potential Themes:

  • Cultural and political borders
  • Multicultural states
  • Cultural revolutions
  • “Grind culture”
  • French Revolution
  • Counter-archival praxis
  • Queer culture and identities
  • Racial tensions and conflicts
  • Media and representation
  • Inter- and intra-religious strife
  • Climate change
  • Culture as __?
  • Culture and __?


Keynotes presented by Professors Amanda Lock Swarr and Juliet Shields.


The conference will take place in person on the University of Washington’s Seattle campus in mid-April. Funding for travel and accommodation is not available. Modest food and refreshments will be provided during the conference. Organizers will do their best to provide information about affordable options.


Please send an abstract (no longer than 300 words) and a short bio to by January 19, 2024