Call For Papers – Alternative Global Geographies, Imagining and Re-Imagining the World

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Call for Papers

Alternative Global Geographies, Imagining and Re-Imagining the World

Late 19th century – Present Day

Conference of the Research Network “Socialism Goes Global

In contrast to public claims of the early 1990s, space and geographies have not lost their central role in defining an ever more globalized world. We still live in territorialized spaces: not only in the narrow sense of states and societies that reside within their borders, but also geographies and spatial formats on regional and world scales. Research in the aftermath of the spatial turn in the humanities and social sciences is increasingly drawing our attention to the importance of understanding large-scale spatial dynamics for global history.

Many influential paradigms, often emerging from metropolitan cores or centres of the Cold War, have emerged to make sense of an increasingly interconnected world. These have included Euro- and other ‘centric’ centre-periphery models, the idea of the Anglophone or Francophone worlds, the tricontinental model, World Systems Theory, or the division of the globe into the First, Second, and Third Worlds, or the ‘Global North and South’. Such ideas came not only from the academy (in e.g. geography, area studies, history, economics, anthropology) but also from the work of political, economic and cultural actors. This conference will explore such attempts to make sense of the world on a regional or global scale, and explore how such ideas have been used to make sense of, and organize, power relations, cultural encounters and economic connections.

We wish in particular to encourage papers focussing on the ‘view from the periphery’. Despite the recent turn to studying global history from non-western perspectives, there is still little research done on visions of world order from other actors outside metropolitan cores or the West- from e.g. Latin America, South and Eastern Asia, Eastern Europe, and Africa. We invite contributions dealing with ways of conceptualising the world from areas that thought of themselves as peripheral (or semi-peripheral) on a global scale, or, indeed, challenged their definition as such. We wish to emphasise that we do not set an a priori definition of ‘periphery’ – the definition of where the periphery is located, how it is defined and who belongs to it shall be rather an element of the analysis. We also encourage contributions on those who conceptualised alternative visions of world orders, from a variety of political, religious, cultural or economic movements – regardless of their geographical location (i.e. also from critical or peripheral standpoints within the metropole/ core).

The event aims to bring together scholars from multiple disciplines (e.g. history, sociology, geography, anthropology and others), working on various topics (colonialism, post-colonialism, socialism and radicalism), on different world regions or on a world scale. The time frame may range from the late 19th century – as an era in which global imaginations and political projects of a politico- and cultural-spatial organization of the world powerfully emerged in relation to late colonial regimes – through the transformations of the interwar, the Cold War and decolonisation, and up until the present day.

Papers might address:

– conceptualizations and spatializations of the world: how have actors accepted or critiqued dominant visions of global spatial visions; what ‘alternative visions’ have been proposed e.g. ‘socialist world’, ‘anti-imperialist world’, ‘Afro-Asian world’, ‘global South’, ‘majority world’; how have actors worked to make such reconceptualisations authentic, or new interconnections a reality?

– the relation between political projects and practices to these conceptualizations – either as producers of these or through instrumentalizing them.

– the clashes between such conceptualizations and practices, paying attention to the web of power relations inherent in these conflicts.

– the roles of expert cultures (e.g. area studies institutes, agricultural specialists, economists, sociologists, fiction writers) and non-academic actors (e.g. activists); institutionalisations based on spatial imaginaries; the intellectual production of spatialized knowledge; the role of trans-regional exchange in the production of spatial models.

– the production of authenticity in new geographical imaginaries (how have these new imaginaries been made real? How have imagined distances between world regions been collapsed, or new borders and frontiers between world regions produced? How and why have alternative visions failed in the face of dominant models?).

– the conceptualisation of the periphery and semi-periphery (how did actors relate themselves to the concept? How did internal peripheries within regions or countries shape how actors conceptualised peripheries on a global scale?).

– relations between ideological camps and geographical spaces (e.g. imperialism, anti-imperialism and spatialized visions; shifting and rival definitions of the globe as a set of large geocultural units by the Cold War powers; contested visions of world mapping).

– the role of world mapping in domestic cultures in different ideological systems and regional settings (e.g. political uses; global spatial mappings as ‘disciplining tools’ for home populations; representations of world orders in e.g. maps, culture, political discourse; the political and cultural interpreters of spatialized visions for popular audiences).

Please send a brief abstract of 300-500 words, as well as a brief CV, by 27 July 2015, to Catherine Devenish at the University of Exeter (C.Devenish@exeter.ac.uk ). The conference will take place in Leipzig from 12 to 14 November 2015. Some funding opportunities for travel and accommodation are available, but we ask that potential contributors explore funding opportunities at their home institutions.

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