Call for Papers: Imag(in)ing Europe

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Imag(in)ing Europe: Perspectives on a Contested Continent, 800-2000

Utrecht University, 14-16 September 2016

Call for Papers

Organized by Utrecht University in cooperation with UCL and Göttingen University

With confirmed keynotes by Laura Cram (Edinburgh), Michael Wintle (Amsterdam), Wolfgang Schmale (Vienna) and Konrad Jarausch (Chapel Hill)

The concept of Europe remains elusive. In current public debates European culture or European civilization is often characterized by way of an accumulation of heritage, an identifiable or even measurable set of shared values, a common identity, or a core ideal. At the same time, both Europeanness and the idea of a shared civilization are fiercely contested. Since at least the 1990s the notion of European identity has been criticized as being essentialist, exceptionalist, and exclusive; postmodernism has even cast doubt on the ethics of posing such questions in the first place.

Europe is now commonly seen as a transnational entity embedded in global history, its ‘identity’ and ‘values’ as having emerged from within itself as well as from the outside world. Yet it remains unclear how unity relates to diversity, both in theory and practice. How to define Europe while taking into account its linguistic, religious, national and ethnic diversity? How to reconcile the centrifugal realities of, for example, multiculturalism with concepts like (collective) identity and civilization?

Such questions remain topical; they continue to arise from the daily exigencies of contemporary life. And they cannot be addressed without taking account of the past.

This conference focuses on the way Europe has been framed, defined and conceptualised on multiple levels: the local, the regional, the national and the global, and, in particular, on the often asymmetrical interplay between the one and the other. By problematizing and exploring the interrelationship between unity and diversity, and between image and exchange, we hope to obtain better insight into the theory and the history of imag(in)ing ‘Europe’ between 800 and 2000.

Possible themes include:

  • ‘Fortress Europe’: responses (from all sides) to migratory currents, hostile incursions and aggressive attitudes
  • ‘Under Construction’: visions of Europe during periods of renovation after mass violence (pivotal dates are e.g. 1648, 1815, 1918, 1945, 1989)
  • ‘Borders and Margins’: to what extent have Russia, Spain, the Balkans or Turkey (or the Ottoman Empire) been framed as ‘European’
  • ‘Asymmetries’: the East in relation to the West, the South in comparison with the North, and the questions of ‘central Europe’ (Mitteleuropa) and ‘Britain and the continent’
  • ‘Postcolonial Europe’: how have Indians, Chinese, Kenyans, Brazilians and Australians (to name but a few) viewed Europe?
  • ‘Religious Europe’: the Europe’s identified by Protestants and Catholics, or by adherents to other religions, as well as by secularists over time.

Organisation

This conference is organised by Asymmetrical Encounters (ASYMENC), a collaborative project of Utrecht University (NL), Göttingen University (D) and University College London (UK), funded by the Hera Joint Research Programme ‘Cultural Encounters’.

ASYMENC uses digital methodologies to examine the role played by transnational cultures in the process of European integration between 1815 and 1992. The project draws on the idea of ‘reference cultures’, cultures that offer a model which other cultures may imitate, adapt, or resist. Reference cultures are mental constructs or “cognitive maps” that do not necessarily represent a geopolitical reality with an internal hierarchy and recognizable borders. They are typically established and negotiated in public discourse over a long period of time.

Practicalities

Conference participants are expected to cover their own travel and hotel expenses. We request that all papers are based on original work which has not been published previously. Those interested in presenting a paper are kindly requested to submit a 250-word abstract for 20-minute papers (indicating any technical requirements) and a brief biographical note by 15 April 2016 via easychair: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=imag-2016 or via e-mail directly to Maarten van den Bos (m.j.a.vandenbos@uu.nl).

 

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