Call for Papers
AFFIRMING BOUNDARIES, CONTESTING BOUNDARIES
Citizenships, Multi/Inter-cultures, Subjectivities
Following on from our Journée d’étude of January 27, 2012, the research group Frontières identitaires et Représentations de l’altérité proposes to follow the dialogue on identity boundaries in its multiple constructions and deconstructions. In this first discussion, we paid particular attention to migration and minority groups – encompassed by the intersection/crossing of socio-racial, nationality, class, gender/sex discriminations and inequalities. We will now try to expand this dialogue and examine/compare the contradictions and the difficulties emerging from the exercise of democracy emphasizing the question of ethics or morals, of social justice, of the right to equality and the recognition of plural identities, which can be found mostly within postcolonial studies (subaltern/queer/cultural studies). This initiative will allow us to highlight the tension between affirmative and contested identity boundaries in its fluidity/displacements, also taking into account social actor’s capacity to negotiate and/or relocate identity boundaries as well as to superpose different affiliations.
Based on political, cultural, socio-economic, national/transnational issues of today’s societies we propose to address the following issues (a) the construction and the praxis attached to the notion of citizenship in its multiples dimensions − formal and informal, material and symbolic; (b) the different configurations deployed within the complex and paradoxical debate on multicultural and/or inter-cultural societies around public politics (identity politics); (c) the comparison of strategies of resistance and empowerment underlying the [inter]subjective actions and choices of individuals’ life experiences, of those who are exposed to discrimination, exclusion, stigmatization and marginalization − which underpin the social and cultural invisible citizenship of the most fragile populations in Europe, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.
Two approaches are proposed:
How do we ask the question of social and political equality in terms of recognition of the multiple differences that constitutes and give sense to everyday life? By individual and collective actions many voices are claiming for difference to be recognized (of nationality, of culture, of gender or sexuality), and these requests become more and more pressing when one considers that the traditional social compromise is not compelling. We will ask how to conceive of a democratic and multi-cultural citizenship underlying the hopes of recognition firmly rooted in the individual and in the groups. Beyond the hegemonic approaches, we will inquire how the new perceptions of social life are at present transforming modern societies entangled in a flux of globalization. What are the challenges in terms of politics of equality and identity politics both on the level of the public/governmental initiatives and on the level of the requests of civil society (autonomous institutions, associative world, NGOs) in Europe, in Latin America, in the revolutionary North Africa and elsewhere? How in the new jeux and enjeux de vérités can we conjugate citizenship dignity when it is absent or subalternized by the constraints imposed on women and men, ethnic/racial/sexual or national minorities? What are the new paradigms nowadays and what are the new concerns pointing to the conflicts generated by the social, cultural and political pluralism − and the rising request for equity − which have been re-orientated within the old multicultural and/or intercultural models? Could we say that the Canadian multicultural model (in its new version of accommodements raisonables) or the English multicultural model (recently redefined by the tenants of the community cohesion) have somehow lost their breath? What should we think of the French and Brazilian republican models (quite different) based on the universal and indivisible ideologies at a time when the assimilation/integration theories − blind to differences − find themselves ever more contested?
In this second part, we will return to the life experiences of the individuals (very much present in our Journée of January 2012) whom in their everyday lives have to face their powerlessness, the restrictions of their social status, their phenotypic/cultural marks, the ethno-racial stereotypes, their sexual preferences, in short, their invisible citizenship and/or abject visibility (J. Butler): social, cultural and politic. This reading frame draws attention to the [inter]subjective and subjective cognitive process which underlies the paradoxical everyday life experiences of men and women who are stigmatized, disadvantaged and “speechless” − and for whom power relations are more stark. We will inquire about matters of respect and self-esteem. How can we find an authentic relationship to the other, to oneself and to the world? What are the strategies of resistance that social actors articulate in order to create new symbolic and material configurations for self-construction in the contact with the “other”? How could we reinforce Goffman’s postulate on the normal and the stigmatized individuals as perspectives: one and the other representing the mirror of the same: a troubled mirror. How to convey human agency (collective/individual) in its decentralized, creative and fluid nature as a source of social actor’s capacity to renovate narrations and contradictory existential spaces? In a transversal logic where the affirmation and the contestation of an identity can be operated by imaginary poles of the same face, displaced and transformed within history and memory, we will analyze the subjective construction of the self and the human hierarchy vis-à-vis nationality, ethnicity, class/status, gender/sex/sexuality and social-racial relations.
Par Lenita Perrier and Kathleen Hughes