Call for Papers: 'Nationalism and the City'
Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, UK Conference Date: 10-11 February 2012
Call for papers now open. Proposals of no more than 250 words creatively addressing aspects of the attached conference summary are most welcome.
Deadline: 1 October 2011. Submit to: nationalismandthecity@...
Blame it, perhaps, on a hangover from nationalism's early mingling with European romantics, but the primacy of `the rural' in nationalist imaginaries remains well established, recurring in political and cultural discourse as the fundamental site of national authenticity, tradition and identity. This tendency has resulted in a distortion of nationalism's crucial yet ambivalent relationship with the pastoral inverse the smoky, crowded, dynamic space of `the urban' and despite the usual eagerness of scholars to dismantle any and all `myths' propagated by nationalist paradigms, very little has been done to theorize this pivotal interplay between nationalism and the city.
How are we to understand the role of cities in nationalism's pasts, presents and futures?
The urban landscape is at once intensely local and profoundly global, while commonly appropriated (internally or externally) as a compelling (though never uncontested) representation of `the national whole'. It was through cities that intellectuals traded early ideas of `the nation', and it is in cities that national identities have been pushed to their breaking points.
The urban has helped to shape the national and this relation also works in
reverse: cities can be sites for national consolidation and commemoration, but also facilitate the emergence of `spaces of alterity' and zones of conflict.
This conference will move to `re-centre' the urban in theories of nations and nationalism, facilitating a dialogue across disciplines to address the many layers of what has been described as `the urban palimpsest'. A special emphasis will be placed on integrating the insights of those focused on dynamics in the city and those addressing the broader phenomenon of nationalism, to enliven debates on space, identity, and politics and to illuminate important convergences and contradictions, conjunctures and disjunctures.
The task for researchers is as follows: how are we to conceptualize the role of cities/urban environments in the origins/spread/perpetuation/undermining of nations and nationalism?
The continuities and variations in urban forms across continents necessitates a global focus, and participants are encouraged to consider the transnational dimension of both `the urban' and `the nation' as sociological phenomena and cognitive categories.
Suggested focal points include:
▪ Urbanization/modernization and the conditions of nationalism's emergence ▪ Urban intellectual networks and the global diffusion of nationalism ▪ Cities as battle-space and/or as sites for mobilization ▪ National unity and the urban/rural `divide'
▪ The city as metaphor for nation
▪ Globalizing cities, `post-nationalism', and notions of urban reclamation ▪ Cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and layers of belonging ▪ Multiculturalism, heterogeneity and the urban ▪ Disintegration, dystopia and `spaces of alterity'
Applicants are encouraged especially to engage with the existing theoretical literature on nations, nationalism and the city.