Conference 2013

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“City City Bang Bang”: Contemporary literary and cultural representations of the city

21- 23 March 2013

The centrality of the urban in contemporary times has been fore grounded by the varying representations of the city as a space in literary, cultural and artistic imagination. Today, the traditional city seems to have transformed itself in the wake of the social, economic and cultural consequences of large scale migration, decline of organised labour and growth of the precariat and the crises that are shaking the global capitalist system. Urban spaces have undergone dramatic changes, just as the ways in which we experience the city in our daily lives has. At the same time, the “postmetropolitan” transformation has been marked by spatial and temporal disjunctions between the advanced capitalist countries and those of the postcolonial world.

How are these facets of urban experience articulated in contemporary writing? Has the city become a space of resistance where hitherto marginalized social groups and sections have begun dislocating established power to narrate the city from their standpoint? Have these transformations heralded newer forms of imagination while transforming existing artistic genres? Would it then be accurate to say that the distinctions between “city”, “suburb”, “country” and “the metropolis” have become increasingly nebulous just as the dialectics of the “public” and “private”, the “interior” and “exterior”, the “insider” and “outsider” have? Can the urban experience be defined by the concept of “third space” that is simultaneously the space for encounters, conflicting and connecting, present or potential? Can one validate the claims that contemporary urbanism in its heterotopic form is not so much about fixed structures and spaces but rather of “porous” boundaries and fluid processes?
The present conference is an attempt to reflect on these urban processes where identities, cultures, communities, race, class, caste, gender, languages mingle, negotiate, interrogate, diverge, resist, interpenetrate, restructure and open up to various forms of hybridity as the cities are becoming the confluence of varied migratory models.

We invite papers that explore these questions from a comparative perspective to not only emphasise the commonality of experience but also to discuss its multiplicity across languages and genres. Papers focusing on the representation of the city and the urban experience in various forms of high and popular culture, visual and performative arts, as well as other cultural productions are invited. Papers focusing on related debates from other disciplines are also welcome.

[Deadline for submission of abstracts (200-300 words): 5 January 2013]


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