31/05/2018 – call for papers “Negotiating, subverting, reconfiguring borders in the English-speaking world”

What, when & where

Call for papers for the conference “Negotiating, subverting, reconfiguring borders in the English-speaking world”  organised by SEARCH (Savoirs dans l’Espace Anglophone: Représentations, Culture, Histoire; Université de Strasbourg)

University of Strasbourg, France,  5-6 October 2018.

Considering borders as pliable and multifaceted, this conference aims to examine the notions of subjective borders and normative borders as dynamic and malleable objects seen both through daily experiences and through literary, artistic or historical representations. Indeed, individuals are likely to try and negotiate any institutionalized border at any scale, whether to cross, reinforce, ignore, move, destroy it, or subvert its use. Questioning these practices will allow for multiscalar temporal and spatial approaches, ranging from daily deeds (going from one neighborhood to the next) to longterm changes and their subsequent  representations  (the appearance/disappearance of national borders, the transformation of cities and their literary resonance), from  domestic spaces (for ex. the spatial differentiation of activities within the house, along social and gender lines, for instance) to international spaces. These questions relate to physical borders, natural or manufactured (wall, road, river) as well as discursive, social, imaginary or disciplinary borders.

Papers will look not only at practices that impact  borders directly, but also at the dynamic relationships between the communities and cultures that live nearby. Issues of perception and representation will be paramount in that they will show how and why existing borders can be accepted or contested, what small-scale strategies are conceived to transgress impractical or oppressing borders, reinforce those which seem essential, or even how individuals create self-imposed borders.

The drivers for these negotiations, reconfigurations and subversions will be analyzed, ranging from political resistance to practical daily actions, whether these be conscious or not, the focus being as much on lived experiences as on artistic representations. Papers may focus on relationships between institutions and individuals, between normative spaces and their subversive reappropriation, both in the realm of cultural practices (exhibition spaces, literary genres, etc.) and that of daily experiences (negotiations between public and private space). These relationships will be examined in their short or long-term dynamics, including the impact they might have on the border itself, resulting in its utter destruction, its dislocation, its re-creation, or its increased porosity, etc. Choosing certain time scales may also reveal palimpsests through which borders can still be relevant even after they disappear, as in the case of successive treaties on Native territories.

Discourses on and representations of the border will also be examined: the official and alternative cartographies of a territory reveal perceptions and political stakes; literature and other forms of art from a given period can deny or reinforce social differentiations; researchers can reveal borders of which the actors themselves are not aware. The example of the American Frontier, created solely through discourse to justify the myth of the American pioneer triumphing over wilderness, frontier which was then said to have disappeared in order to signify victory over that wilderness, testifies to the performative nature of the word itself,  and to the role it can play in the history and representation of a nation.

Deadline & how to apply

Deadline for proposals: 31 May 2018


Papers related to any English-speaking country, at any historical period, are welcome.

Proposals in English or French (300 words) should be sent to Sandrine Baudry (sbaudry@unistra.fr), Hélène Ibata (hibata@unistra.fr) and Monica Manolescu (manoles@unistra.fr) before May 31st, 2018.

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