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"Does the Past Matter?"

CAS 26/03/2008

Call for Papers

"Does the Past Matter? Renegotiating the Past, Communal Identity, and Multiculturalism in Europe" International Seminar Moore Institute, National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland) 13-14 November 2008

In our liquid second modernity, as Zygmunt Bauman declared, amnesia has seemingly reached epidemic proportions. Sociologists, cultural critics and historians warn us that our modern society has severed the ties with the past in order to inhabit the present and the future, and has embraced a hodgepodge of ready-made identities, whilst rejecting more traditional forms of identification. However, it is not necessarily so. The past matters.

The question remains: how should we relate to national and cultural histories while striving to create a new multicultural Europe? Should we be advocates of Nietzschean antiquarian or critical modes of relating to history? Or is there a need for a more transgressive approach to history that would allow creating a civic European platform?

The aim of this seminar is twofold. First, it aims to address the issue of negotiating between past and present at both local and national levels in Europe; secondly, to investigate the influence of this enterprise on the formation of progressive communal identities. The wide scope of the conference is intended to be informed by a variety of perspectives (cultural, political, ethical, religious and social) from which the relationship between the past, identity, and our perception of the ‘Other’ can be viewed. Contributions from a variety of disciplines are welcome: women and gender studies, literary and film studies, political science, philosophy, sociology and history. Proposals for interdisciplinary and comparative papers are especially welcome. The main questions of the seminar are:

- Does the re-examination of the past contribute to the cohesion or fragmentation of a community?
- How important is the recovery of the past for postcolonial and post-totalitarian societies?
- Is reckoning with the past conducive to cultural pluralism?
- Can renegotiation of the past contribute to the inclusion of cultural, racial and political Others in Europe?
- What ethical considerations does this enterprise raise for the project of multicultural Europe?
- In what ways does immigration influence our relationship with the national past?

Keynote Speakers:
Dr. Ronit Lentin (TCD, Ireland), second speaker to be confirmed

Proposals of up to 250 words for 20 minute duration papers should be sent to Dr Kinga Olszewska. Accepted formats are Word and PDF. Please include also the following information: name, affiliation, contact details, and technical requirements. Abstract submission deadline is 31st of May 2008. Paper acceptance notification will be sent out by the 20th of June 2008.


Dr Kinga Olszewska
Moore Institute
National University of Ireland
Fax: +353 91 495507

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