“The Critical Turn: Historical and Contemporary Formations in Ethnic Studies”
Friday, April 10, 2015 California State Polytechnic University, Pomona
As the final installation of a two-year long program series, “The World in Motion,” The Critical Turn: Historical and Contemporary Formations in Ethnic Studies will examine how both the local and global has reshaped the re/production of knowledge in academia and emergent disciplines such as Ethnic Studies, Women’s Studies, and Cultural Studies. The emergence of these academic disciplines has and continues to be shaped by the complex local and global forces in the contemporary period. The conference attempts to trace how academia and scholars both responded to and were transformed by the civil rights and decolonization movements in the U.S. and internationally. Equally important, the conference is intended to facilitate dialogue on the challenges and theoretical frameworks with which scholars are contending in this increasingly globalized world.
A case in point is how scholars have been responding to the challenges of the new social order in the field of Ethnic Studies, with the addition of the descriptor of “Critical” to Ethnic Studies. The conference examines the extent to which this qualifier marks an ideological shift and/or rift within the field. What is the significance of this shift and what conflicts underlie it? If hegemonic formations are, as Stuart Hall explains, “constructed through a complex series or process of struggles,” then so are counter-hegemonic formations, like Ethnic Studies. Recently these struggles have taken shape through the establishment of new academic associations and journals, such as the Critical Ethnic Studies Association and Kalfou. The “Critical” in Ethnic Studies references the past, while attending to the present. It harkens to Ethnic Studies’ founding moments as part and parcel of those de-colonial social movements that made the critique of the state and capital central to its analysis. The “Critical” operates as a critique of Ethnic Studies, or rather its institutionalization, by probing the extent to which Ethnic Studies has re- institutionalized the very logics of the state and academia that it sought to dismantle. The conference also examines similar debates that are occurring in other fields as scholars, artists, and activists attempt to map and critically respond to the new and ever changing socio-political terrain. Towards this end, we seek papers that examine:
1. The interplay between the political, the socio-economic, and the personal in the formation and development of Ethnic Studies at different historical moments.
2. The impact of historical and contemporary social movements, ranging from liberal to socialist, on traditional academic disciplines, and on emergent 20th century disciplines such as Ethnic Studies (African American, Asian American, Chicano/Latino Studies, Native American, Arab American).
3. How analysis within and across transnational, diasporic, post-colonial, feminist, and/or queer, and emerging fields generate new readings in Ethnic Studies.
4. How the social and global landscape has changed since the 1960s, and the intellectual and practical work required within Ethnic Studies and other disciplines to articulate new possibilities for the future.
Proposals should include full contact information, presentation title, abstract (300 words), and a one-page curriculum vita.
Selected papers will be considered for publication.