The Question of Identity in 21st Century

Nada  Tayem's picture
Call for Papers
September 30, 2021
Maryland, United States
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Cultural History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Indigenous Studies, World History / Studies

 NeMLA 2022 Convention; Call for Papers

The Question of Identity in the 21st Century

Insofar, the concept of identity, the process of its formation, and relation to culture have been tackled and analyzed in multiple disciplines and from different theoretical frameworks and perspectives. Yet, in the 21st century and due to the complexity and the rapid changes in the current time in the world including the various migration waves and crises in this century, new academic approaches to understanding identity construction are required. But, Is the question of identity still relevant today? This session aims to revisit the relations between identity and culture and discuss the legitimacy of the roles both play in understanding and eliciting different human experiences such as homelessness and migration. The act of discovering and creating identity is an act of re-shaping and re-claiming “the true self” which goes beyond the spatial and the temporal. In his essay, “Cultural Identity and Diaspora”, Stuart Hall examines the different viewpoints of identity formation in his study of the Caribbean literature: the first one, according to Hall, defines “cultural identity in terms of “one, shared culture, a sort of collective “one true self, hiding inside the many other, more superficial or artificially imposed “selves,” which people with a shared history and ancestry hold in common.” He precedes to define identity as “a matter of “becoming” as well as of “being.” In this definition, identity “belongs to the future as much as to the past.” Nevertheless, these different views of “cultural identity” give us a broader understanding of the ways in which the underrepresented experiences of minority groups may become situated in the dominant systems of representation and become more prone to “the effects of a critical exercise of cultural power and normalization.” identity as a term is sometimes marked by stereotyping and many times by acts of exclusion. This session aims to examine and discuss the relations, interactions, and intersections between narratives, migration, culture, and identity While highlighting the multiple factors that affect and influence the construction of individual and collective identities. The session welcomes scholars and researchers from various disciplines and conceptualizations of identity formation in multicultural spaces. Topics to be considered in this session include but are not limited to: Migration and identities in flux, Identity and diaspora; Identity and historical narrative; the connection between spaces, places and the formation of identities; Transnational identities; Diaspora and creation of identity; The connections between identities and homeland; Identity and cosmopolitanism, Borders and the negotiation of identities; Challenges, obstacles and perspectives of the return to the homeland; Narratives of the return; Identity and critical theory; theoretical views of identity; Identity and post-colonial theory. Scholars are encouraged to address multiple perspectives and theories and address questions such as the following: Does identity (identification) matter and why? Does identity entail any significant meaning? What is the link between culture and identity and what role does culture play in shaping identity? In what ways does identity influence cultures? What informs individual and collective identities? How do identity processes function? Can identity be biologically inherited/ determined or can identity be formed and selected? Is identity fixed and stable? Can it be plural and multiple or singular? What are the factors that shape identity? How and why do ethnic groups desire to keep their identity unchanged/ changed? Is this even possible? What is the role of the media and literature in this concern? Scholars and researchers in fields of literature, history, philosophy, arts, and media are welcome to engage and share their creative projects and research which relate and address the topics and questions in this dialogue and beyond.

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Nada Tayem

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