Nationalism and Ethnicity: Upcoming Conferences and Events

Call for Papers

Identity, Ethnicity and Nationhood before Modernity: Old Debates and New Perspectives

Date: 24–26 April, 2015

Location: The Oxford Centre for Research in the Humanities, UK

The organizing committee of the conference ‘Identity, Ethnicity and Nationhood before Modernity: Old Debates and New Perspectives’ invites paper proposals from prospective speakers.

In spite of the flow of publications over the last thirty years on ancient and medieval ethnicity and national identity, modernism—the view that nationhood is an essentially modern phenomenon and was non-existent or peculiarly unimportant before the eighteenth century remains the dominant paradigm in ethnicity and nationalism studies. We believe it is time to reopen this debate. Scholars working on pre-modern collective identities too often avoid the challenge of modernism, either by using allegedly unproblematic terminology of ethnicity or by employing the vocabulary of nationhood uncritically. This conference, therefore, aims at tackling these difficult theoretical issues head on. This can only truly be achieved by bringing together a range of researchers working on ancient, late antique, early medieval, high medieval, late medieval, and early modern ethnicity and nationhood. Thus we hope to reinvigorate discussion of pre-modern ethnicity and nationhood as well as to go beyond the unhelpful chronological divisions which have emerged through surprisingly fragmented research on pre-modern collective identities. Overall, our conference’s goal is to encourage systemic conceptual thinking about pre-modern identity and nationhood and to consider the similarities and differences between the construction and use of ethnic and national categories both within those periods and in comparison with modernity.

The conference welcomes papers from classics of all periods of ancient, medieval and early modern history, including also oriental, sociology, social anthropology, and literary studies. The organizing committee also invites papers from modernists that aim to compare pre-modern and modern ethnicity and nationhood. Priority will be given to papers that situate their particular studies within the broader conceptual debate on pre-modern and modern identity.

The keynote lectures will be given by Caspar Hirschi, Len Scales, Walter Pohl, Susan Reynolds and Tim Whitmarsh. To stimulate the discussion our keynote lectures will be responded to by the leading experts on modern national identity and nationalism Monica Baár, Stefan Berger, John Breuilly and Oliver Zimmer, as well as Azar Gat, the author of a recent book on the long history of ethnicity entitled Nations: The Long History and Deep Roots of Political Ethnicity and Nationalism.

Prospective speakers are invited to submit abstracts of approximately 300 words. Submissions should include name, affiliation and contact details. The deadline for submissions is 1 November 2014. For more information about the conference or to submit an abstract, please email the committee at: ilya.afanasyev@history.ox.ac.uk; nicholas.matheou@pmb.ox.ac.uk

The conference organizers intend to publish selected papers from the conference as a special journal edition.

The conference is supported by the Oxford Research Centre for the Humanities (TORCH) and Oxford’s Faculty of History.

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Upcoming Conference

Identities and Identifications: Politicized Uses of Collective Identities

The Second Euroacademia International Conference

Location: Villa Vittoria – Palazzo dei Congressi, Florence, Italy

Conference Date: 17–18 October 2014

Conference description:

Identity is one of the crown jewels in the kingdom of ‘contested concepts’. The idea of identity is conceived to provide some unity and recognition while it also exists by separation and differentiation. Few concepts were used as much as identity for contradictory purposes. From the fragile individual identities as self-solidifying frameworks to layered in-group identifications in families, orders, organizations, religions, ethnic groups, regions, nation-states, supra-national entities or any other social entities, the idea of identity always shows up in the core of debates and makes everything either too dangerously simple or too complicated. Constructivist and de-constructivist strategies have led to the same result: the eternal return of the topic. Some say we should drop the concept, some say we should keep it and refine it, some say we should look at it in a dynamic fashion while some say it’s the reason for resistance to change.

If identities are socially constructed and not genuine formations, they still hold some responsibility for inclusion/exclusion – self/other nexuses. Looking at identities in a research oriented manner provides explanatory tools for a wide variety of events and social dynamics. Identities reflect the complex nature of human societies and generate reasonable comprehension for processes that cannot be explained by tracing pure rational driven pursuit of interests. The feelings of attachment, belonging, recognition, the social processes of values formation and norms integration, the logics of appropriateness generated in social organizations are all factors relying on a certain type of identity or identification. Multiple identifications overlap, interact, include or exclude, conflict or enhance cooperation. Identities create boundaries and borders; define the in-group and the out-group, the similar and the excluded, the friend and the threatening, the insider and the ‘other’.

The Second Euroacademia International Conference ‘Identities and Identifications: Politicized Uses of Collective Identities’ aims to scrutinize the state of the art in collective identities research, to bring once more into debate the processes of identity making, identity building in both constructivist or de-constructivist dimensions. It is the aim of the conference to open the floor to dynamic multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary understanding of identities today.

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