18 September 2008

CFP - Postcolonial Popular Cultures: A Symposium (U of Otago, NZ; deadline: 1 Oct 2008)

Postcolonial Popular Cultures: A Symposium
Organised by the Postcolonial Studies Research Network, University of Otago
December 14-16, 2008, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Keynote Speakers

  • Grant Farred, Professor of Africana Studies and English, Cornell University. "For Our Time? Thinking the Popularity of the Postcolonial”: exploring the relevance of postcoloniality, and its historically difficult relationship to the popular, in our moment.

  • Kalpana Ram, Anthropology, Macquarie University. To be confirmed

  • Jo Smith, Media Studies Programme, Victoria University of Wellington. “Postcolonial Maori TV?”

Call for Papers

The field of postcolonial studies has recently been called on to redress its lack of sustained attention to, and engagement with, popular cultural practices and forms. A survey of the anthologies and major collections informing the field suggest the point is a legitimate one. While scholars such as Arjun Appadurai, Paul Gilroy, and Kobena Mercer engage with popular cultural practices of diasporic and migrant communities, the postcolonial field has shown less attention to popular cultural forms as productive sites for exploring the kinds of questions that animate it.

Taking on this challenge, we invite submissions from across disciplines to engage with the theme of postcolonial popular cultures. Theoretical and disciplinary inquiries may include the constitution of postcolonial popular cultures, the function, role of the postcolonial in postcolonial popular culture, and the critical perspective offered by postcolonial studies. What can postcolonial studies contribute to the study and understanding of popular culture that has not been addressed by cultural studies? How would an examination of contemporary popular cultural practices influence significant areas of postcolonial theorizing: hybridity, resistance, the politics of representation? How would it affect the field’s focus on a certain literary and theoretical canon, and its arguably textual orientation? What economies of value shape the relative exclusion of popular culture in postcolonial studies?

Beyond this, we are concerned to ask whether an emphasis on postcolonial popular culture challenges specific structures of power, or whether popular cultural forms and practices are complicit with the institutions and operations postcolonial studies seek to challenge? In a period of rapid commodification and intense consumerism, what is at stake when we speak of postcolonial popular cultures? What impact is made on postcolonial cultural expressions by the ‘global popular’?

These questions are by no means exhaustive; they are offered as a point of entry for further discussion on the theme of postcolonial popular culture. Postcolonial popular culture is defined in a broad and inclusive way to incorporate lived and textual cultures, the mass media, ways of life, and discursive modes of representation. Central to the formation of postcolonial popular cultures are articulations of the economic, social and political spheres and the conference welcomes contributions that will highlight these issues.

Papers from across disciplines are invited to address aspects of Postcolonial Popular Culture, including:

  • Popular culture and resistance
  • Everyday popular cultural practices
  • Sport
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Body cultures
  • Fashion/clothing
  • Food
  • Television and other broadcast media
  • Online games, computer and other technologies
  • Street and community theatre
  • Shopping
To maintain the integrity of discussions, we ask that submissions address the question of popular culture in relation to some aspect of the field of postcolonial studies. We invite abstracts of 250-300 words and a short bio of 100 words to be sent to Dr Brendan Hokowhitu (Brendan.hokowhitu@stonebow.otago.ac.nz) by 1 October, 2008.