Cultural Literacy & Cosmopolitan Conviviality

 

Universidade Católica Portuguesa | 9-11 May 2019
Deadline for submissions: 6 January 2019

The first biennial Cultural Literacy in Europe Conference took place in London in April 2015; the second in Warsaw in 2017. We are now pleased to announce the Call for Papers for the third Biennial Conference, to be held at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa (Lisbon) in May 2019.

What is cultural literacy? Cultural Literacy (see http://cleurope.eu/about/) is an ability to view the social and cultural phenomena that shape our lives – bodies of knowledge, fields of social action, individuals or groups, and of course cultural artefacts – as being essentially readable. It engages with interdisciplinarity, multilingualism and collaboration. It is as much about innovation and creative practice – whether scholarly, artistic or social – as it is about analysis, and it often brings these two methods together.

What is conviviality? As a series of acts of negotiation, culture is inextricably linked to the exchange of goods and ideas, cosmopolitization, hybridization and mobility (Cronin, 2002, 2010). This calls for a new brand of cosmopolitanism, one that is not ‘from above’ (Hall and Werbner, 2008), and for a convivial culture in which ‘the recognition of mutual worth, dignity and essential similarity imposes restrictions on how we can behave if we wish to act justly’ (Gilroy, 2004: 4). The project of conviviality depends on the translatability of human experience, of literacy as translation, and an ethics of heterogeneity and education, which reminds us that cultures are not homogeneous and do not sit still (Sen, 2006: 112-113). It also leads to a re-reading of the past through the lens of present-day concerns, as these often relate to ‘a post-imperial melancholia’ (Gilroy, 2004), which may translate into a need to ‘decolonise’ Europe (Sayyid and Barnor, 2006) and promote a ‘subaltern cosmopolitanism’ (Sousa Santos, 2002).

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Diffractions Issue 2 (Series 2)

 

(Dis-)covering ciphers: objects, voices, bodies
Deadline for submissions: January 31st, 2019

Cipher1 /ˈsī-fər/

noun: a secret or disguised way of writing; a code. “he wrote cryptic notes in a cipher”. Synonyms: code, secret writing. Dated: a zero; a figure 0. Synonyms: zero, nought, nil, 0. Archaic: naught. “a row of ciphers”.

verb: put (a message) into secret writing; encode. “he left two, as yet uncracked, ciphered messages for posthumous decoding”. Archaic: do arithmatic.

To analyze the ways in which cultural objects acquire meaning can also be understood as looking at the technologies by which those objects have become enciphered. In this issue of Diffractions we aim to look at the concept of the cipher in its myriad ways of appearing, be they cultural, social, political, technological, linguistic or economic in nature.

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IX Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture

 

Neurohumanities: Promises & Threats
Lisbon, July 1-6, 2019
Deadline for submissions: March 15, 2019

When the US government declared the 1990s “The decade of the brain”, it aimed at raising public awareness toward the use of neuroscience for the enhancement of life quality and as a way to better address the challenges of growing life expectancy. The initiative was further supported by substantial research funding, which not only impressed public opinion but appealed to many research fields. Finding a link to brain research and the processes of the human mind, many disciplines were repositioned and adopted the “neuro” prefix, promising new insights into age-old problems by reframing them from the angle of the brain-mind continuum.

Neuroscience seeks to explain how the brain works and which neurophysiological processes are involved in complex cognitive abilities like sensation and perception attention and reasoning, memory and thought.

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Diffractions Issue 6

 

Feminist Ghosts: The New Cultural Life of Feminism
Deadline for submissions: November 30, 2015

Over the last two decades, feminist scholarship has consistently drawn attention to the “post-feminist sensibility” (Gill, 2007) overtaking cultural imagination, wherein feminism is only alluded to “in order that it can be understood as having passed away” (McRobbie, 2011). Deemed responsible for disavowing feminist politics and for encouraging a disidentification with feminist struggles on the part of (younger) women, this postfeminist turn shifted attention to individual success, financial satisfaction and heterosexual realization, ousting the plurality of feminist subjectivities.

Recently, however, feminism seems to have reentered the sphere of public awareness, both in political discourse and popular culture. As McRobbie put it, “in endless conjuring up a demon that must be extinguished (in this case feminism), that demon demonstrates something of its lingering afterlife and its ghostly power” (2011: 183). Phenomena such as Beyoncé’s appropriation of Chimamanda Adichie’s talk “We Should All be Feminists”; Emma Watson’s speech at the UN Women HeforShe campaign launch, in which she urged men to stand up for women’s rights; several Hollywood actresses coming forward to denounce the gender pay gap and other inequalities in the film business; Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s bestseller Lean In on the work-family balance; the controversial success of Lena Dunham’s Girls on HBO, among many other instances, have not only contributed to a renewed visibility of feminism in social life, but also to bring forth the new contradictions and challenges (radical) feminism is facing today.