Minding Borders

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Both comparative criticism and translation cross borders. Yet borders that have been crossed still exist. Even a border that has been dismantled is likely to reappear in a different place, or as a less obvious set of limiting practices: migrant texts and migrant ideas, like migrant people, may not achieve full citizenship in their new locations. Of course, there is a creative aspect to borders too, as postcolonial theory in particular has emphasized.  Borders are contact zones (Pratt), generators of hybridity (Bhabha), spaces of exchange, cross-fertilization, and enrichment. For all these reasons, borders require minding – thinking about, managing, even in a sense policing.

Rather than celebrating the crossing of borders, or dreaming of their abolition, our conference will trace their troubling and yet generative resilience. We will explore how borders define as well as exclude, protect as well as violate, and nurture some identities while negating others. We will think comparatively across geography, politics, cultural circulation, creativity, and the structuration of academic disciplines, hoping that the analysis of borders in one domain may illuminate their workings in another (and therefore reconfigure the borders between them). We welcome modes of presentation which question or disrupt the apparent borderlessness of anglophone academic discourse. Whatever other form a border takes it is always also a border in the mind.

Keynotes: the geographer Davide Papotti (Parma), the philosopher Michael Wheeler (Stirling), the freelance writer and artist Caroline Bergvall (London & Geneva). and the writer and scholar of Mediterranean literature Adrian Grima (Malta).

To see the programme, please click here.

To register for the conference and to book accommodation, please click here.

A limited number of bursaries are available for graduate students and others with limited funds. To apply, please send a brief account of your status and your interest in the conference to comparative.criticism@st-annes.ox.ac.uk.


Comparative Criticism and Translation

Audience: Open to all