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Post-Empire Imaginaries

Registration deadlines extended!

Early-bird: 30 March, 2012
Regular: 15 May, 2012


Post-Empire Imaginaries

The 23rd annual conference of the Association for the Study of the New Literatures in English (re-)directs the focus of previous ASNEL conferences on issues of spatiality to the significance of history for the specification of space. Highlighting the stories and histories that forge hegemonic historical narratives, their postcolonial counterparts, and the locations in which both are set, the conference proposes to reconsider historicity as a central aspect of postcolonial theory and practice.

Although decades of postcolonial scholarship and theorizing have uncovered imperial mechanisms of marginalisation and exploitation, empire retains a key role in European and North-American consumer culture. Whether heritage film, colonial style in interior decoration, fashion and architecture, Indian cuisine, or nostalgic journeys of Western travellers to the famous sites of the British Empire – imperial nostalgia continues to be an important factor in practices of self-fashioning as well as in marketing strategies across various arts and industries. The conference will approach this paradox, exploring the tensions between the established postcolonial paradigm and recent theories of ‘post-empire’, by promoting a dialogue between literary and cultural studies on the one hand, and history and the social sciences on the other. Our keynote speakers and panellists will lay the foundations for such an interdisciplinary perspective.

While the term ‘post-empire’ delimitates our field of inquiry it also encourages research on a wide range of historical and contemporary ‘imperial’ formations and resonances. Concretely, ‘post-empire’ denotes a crossroads between the historiography of empire and literary postcolonial studies, which opens up into three main areas of investigation:

• the theory of empire and post-empire in the context of economic globalisation
• the material foundations on which empire is constituted and marketed
• conceptualisations of the imperial past, in-between nostalgia and transgression.

In sum, although the British Empire constitutes the nodal point of this conference, the link between ‘post-empire’ and its ‘imaginaries’ will foster comparative and interdisciplinary approaches to various concrete imperial formations and the fantasies, anxieties, and commodities they engender. By merging historiographical and anthropological approaches with the concerns of literary studies the conference aims to promote further, comparative research on the symbolic representation of empire and its derivatives.

The conference will feature workshops on the intersections of Anglophone literature, history, and the demise of empires in teaching and research in secondary and tertiary education. It will also provide the opportunity to present work in progress on all levels of academic qualification in the ‘under construction’ and poster sessions.

The call for papers will close on January 31, 2012.

We look forward to welcoming you in Berne!


Please register for the conference here.

Call for Papers

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