Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Beyond Borders: Reconceptualizing Fine Lines, Fences, and Frontiers in the Americas

Date: June 29 - July 1, 2009

Organizers: MarŪa Herrera-Sobek (Santa Barbara), Josef Raab (Duisburg / Essen)

This symposium will examine what it is that we actually mean when we speak of 'borders' in the Americas. In tackling this question we will focus on three areas of interdisciplinary study: (1) the multiplicity of borders in the Americas (e.g. national, ethnic, gender, geographical, cultural, linguistic, political, educational, economic etc.) with regard to individual and group identities as well as identity politics;
(2) action-centered and cognitive ways of dealing with borderlines (reinforcing vs. overcoming; upholding vs. crossing; borders as physical divisions, metaphorical images, or mental constructs); and
(3) a critique of the 'border' concept. Each presenter is asked to reconceptualize (for the context of his/her topic) what we really mean when we use the term 'border(s)' and to test the usefulness of other concepts like 'hybridity', 'overlap', 'contact zone', 'battle ground', 'shifting identities', 'plural identities', 'temporary allegiance' etc.
About 25 scholars from North and South America as well as Europe will participate in this symposium. They represent a variety of academic disciplines ranging from cultural and literary studies, media and film studies, linguistics, art, musicology, theology, sociology, political science, and anthropology to history and economics. Confirmed international speakers include Guillaume Boccara (Paris), Mathilde Roza (Nijmegen), Ruth Y. Hsu (University of Hawai'i), Chris Lippard (University of Utah), Vicki Ruiz (University of California, Irvine), and Melissa Comber (Allegheny College). A public reading by the distinguished Mexican American writer Helena Maria Viramontes, in whose work borders play a central role, will complement the academic program of this symposium.

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