Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
Confirmed Keynote Speakers are:
Film Screening on Saturday: Mark Lombardi: Death-Defying Facts of Art and Conspiracy (the film maker Mareike Wegener will be present)
May 24 - 25, 2013
A deep-seated notion of crisis has arguably become a defining feature of today’s United States. The aftermath of the financial meltdown, growing economic disparity, ecological problems, internal political and societal divisions, challenges to the nation’s global standing, and uncertainty about the country’s direction all add up to instill a pervasive sense of insecurity in both internal and external observers.
Moments of crisis and their devastating effects put into question the very foundations on which society rests. Such is the nature of crisis that it unsettles stable structures and generates the need for fundamental reorganization. As a result, a variety of social forces will seek to claim space for themselves in the emerging new order. Among the most contested arenas in this struggle for political, social and cultural space are those in which the relationship between individual freedoms and communal responsibilities, between private and public spaces in American society, are being negotiated. This dialectic can currently be observed in many different spheres of American life.
In the political and economic realms, it shapes the debate that posits market rule and individual freedom against government regulation and redistributive policies. In urban environments, forms of spatial segregation oppose integrative and community-based residential models. Most recently, attempts to re-claim public space for a discursive bottom-up democratic process were embodied by the Occupy movement. In a parallel development, new forms of social interaction emerge in the virtual space of social networks, often effacing the boundaries between public and private.
This dialectical tension – between community and individual, public and private, freedom and restriction – can also be observed in the artistic realm. One might ask, then, what kind of stories are told in times of crisis, and how crises themselves are informed by and infused with different narratives. The conference will therefore also deal with how claims to space are negotiated within literary and cultural productions, and what kinds of spaces the arts themselves can create.
The sixth international conference hosted by the Graduate School of North American Studies invites students and scholars to engage in interdisciplinary investigations into the competing claims to geographical, political, economical, social, and cultural spaces that are currently being made within North America.
We encourage papers on a wide range of topics, which may include, but are not limited to:
The application form can be downloaded here: Application GSNAS 2013 Claiming Space.pdf
The conference language will be English. You can find the program here.