CFP: “Ideas of South” at Cornell University

Ideas of South

Department of Romance Studies Graduate Conference
Cornell University

Conference Dates: March 11th-12th 2016

Keynote Addresses: María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo (New York University) and Roberto Dainotto (Duke University)

Deadline for Abstracts: December 1, 2015

From the conference organizers:

In 1925, the editors of Quarto Stato questioned the forms in which the Turin communists were addressing the “Southern Question,” critical of how Italy’s unification in 1870 resulted in advanced industry and agriculture in the North and the reinstatement of traditions of feudalism in the South. In Antonio Gramsci’s reading, the move of the Turin communists was far from dividing the country but instead was based on creating alliances between the workers from the North and the peasants from the South as a strategy for revolution. In 2015, with austerity crippling southern Europe countries, what old and new “Southern Questions” are shaping the long history of inequality in the very idea of south?
Ground breaking scholarship continues to emerge from historians and literary scholars on topics such as the Algerian War of Independence and the decolonization of Latin America, with respect to the South’s place in the global political order in light of ongoing neocolonial practices. In the Francophone Caribbean, there has been renewed attention concerning Haiti’s role within the history of human rights and the larger “global turn” in contemporary historiography. Robin Blackburn reads the Haitian revolution as a generative rupture, a “pivot,” that changed the possibility, both semantic and practical, of the meaning of rights. How do differing accounts of Caribbean humanism and anti-universalism comment upon the broader problem of heretofore-neglected histories and sites of memory of the global south?
Cultural production and analysis in the fields of literature, art history, fine arts or anthropology have increasingly questioned the sensory representation and symbolic presentation of “Souths.” In Bolivia, films such as Y También la Lluvia (2010) (Even the Rain) by Icíar Bollahín offer a critical perspective on how the imposition of two different colonial processes-Spanish colonization and the privatization of water under the “mandate” of the World Bank-can only be understood in conjunction. How have cultural producers in their respective souths negotiated relationships, exchanges and antagonisms with northern metropolitan art discourse and practice?
The idea or concept of “south” has become a mobile signifier, persistently activated through processes impacting its semantics in accordance with geopolitical logics. For this 2016 Cornell University Romance Studies Graduate Conference we welcome proposals that address these questions from all fields and time periods, including literature, history, linguistics, gender studies, critical race studies, political theory, media and visual studies, philosophy, and psychoanalysis. While we welcome proposals as diverse as the ideas of south, we wish to suggest the following topics:

1.  Whither agency and voice in historical writing: colonial history, literature and memory.
2.  Italian unification and the challenges of nation building in modern Europe.
3.  The role of nationalism in social and political movements, from Spain to South Africa to Argentina.
4.  Maghrébin literature and cinema from 1960 to the present.
5.  Indigenous perspectives: nativism in the “south” of the world.
6.  Ecological and environmentalist movements: conflicts between governments and indigenous self-determination.
7.  Négritude–Antillanité–Créolité.
8.  The Mediterranean Sea as protagonist, antagonist, and metaphor in literature, history, and critical geography.
9.  Cultural practices of the African Diaspora and transnational identity.
10. Comparative and/or subversive feminisms from Europe to the Americas.
11. South and crisis: Greece and the Eurozone.
12. Immigration and Borders: blurring the North-South divide in the time of wall-building.
13. Francophone African perspectives in the history of film and art.
14. The Acadian-Cajun connection in Francophone North American poetics.
15. Minoritarian languages: Bringing the south into literature.
16. Southern Intellectuality: the contradiction of belonging.
17. The imago of Haiti: from the revolution to the earthquake.
18. Colonialism and Queerness: Gender and sexuality in the southern imaginary.
19. Northern hegemony and the history of Transatlantic supply chains.
20. Southern modernisms and postmodernisms: visual media and exoticism.

Submission Guidelines:
Please submit your 250 word abstract and a CV to by Tuesday, December 1st, 2015, with “RSGC Proposal” in the subject line. We will be confirming participants by the end of January, 2016.

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