|CALL FOR PAPERS: “Nationalism and the City” Cambridge University, 10-11 February 2012|
International Conference - Nationalism and the City
Cambridge University, UK
Friday, 10 February 2012 to Saturday, 11 February 2012
Application Deadline: 1 October 2011
it, perhaps, on a hangover from nationalism’s early mingling with
European romantics, but the primacy of ‘the rural’ in nationalist
imaginaries remains well established, recurring in political and
cultural discourse as the fundamental site of national authenticity,
tradition and identity. This tendency has resulted in a distortion of
nationalism’s crucial yet ambivalent relationship with the pastoral
inverse “the smoky, crowded, dynamic space of ‘the urban’ and despite
the usual eagerness of scholars to dismantle any and all ‘myths’
propagated by nationalist paradigms, very little has been done to
theorize this pivotal interplay between nationalism and the city.
How are we to understand the role of cities in nationalism’s pasts, presents and futures?
urban landscape is at once intensely local and profoundly global, while
commonly appropriated (internally or externally) as a compelling
(though never uncontested) representation of ‘the national whole’. It
was through cities that intellectuals traded early ideas of ‘the
nation’, and it is in cities that national identities have been pushed
to their breaking points. The urban has helped to shape the national and
this relation also works in reverse: cities can be sites for national
consolidation and commemoration, but also facilitate the emergence of
‘spaces of alterity’ and zones of conflict.
This conference will
move to ‘re-centre’ the urban in theories of nations and nationalism,
facilitating a dialogue across disciplines to address the many layers of
what has been described as ‘the urban palimpsest’. A special emphasis
will be placed on integrating the insights of those focused on dynamics
in the city and those addressing the broader phenomenon of nationalism,
to enliven debates on space, identity, and politics and to illuminate
important convergences and contradictions, conjunctures and
The task for researchers is as follows: how are we
to conceptualize the role of cities/urban environments in the
origins/spread/perpetuation/undermining of nations and nationalism?
continuities and variations in urban forms across continents
necessitates a global focus, and participants are encouraged to consider
the transnational dimension of both ‘the urban’ and ‘the nation’ as
sociological phenomena and cognitive categories.
Suggested focal points include:
_Urbanization/modernization and the conditions of nationalism’s emergence
_Urban intellectual networks and the global diffusion of nationalism
_Cities as battle-space and/or as sites for mobilization
_National unity and the urban/rural ‘divide’
_The city as metaphor for nation
_Globalizing cities, ‘post-nationalism’, and notions of urban reclamation
_Cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and layers of belonging
_Multiculturalism, heterogeneity and the urban
_Disintegration, dystopia and ‘spaces of alterity’
Call for Papers
proposals for this conference are now being accepted and will be
considered if submitted before the deadline of 1 October 2011. Please
send an abstract of no more than 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.
creatively addressing aspects of the above conference summary are most
welcome. Applicants are especially encouraged to engage with the
existing theoretical literature on nations, nationalism and the city.