Postcolonial Actualities: Past and Present, UT Austin 16-17 October 2009
The age of globalism that shapes the world today is both a cause and effect of postcolonial actualities: effect because of the cultural influences (imposed or transmitted) of colonial powers on colonized lands through the centuries; cause because the supposed end of the colonialist era started world events of migration, hybridity, multiculturalism and relocation in the urban centers of former colonial powers. Several critics have already shaped the postcolonial discourse—such as from Said to Bhabha, from Achebe to Rushdie, from the Subaltern Studies Group to Anzaldúa—and the reality of our world today continues to offer numerous possibilities for discussion on postcolonial issues.
The interdisciplinary conference Postcolonial Actualities: Past and Present at the University of Texas at Austin, which was interlaced with a three-day conference celebrating the intellectual legacy of Professor Elizabeth (BJ) Fernea, focused on how the immigrant flux of colonized populations between urban spaces of former colonizing countries and colonies has reformed the politics of literature, sociology, art, and culture in the cities of former colonial powers. The conference aimed to create discussions investigating how major cities of former empires and colonies have become the stage of hybridity, multiculturalism, and new social dynamics. The joint effort with the event celebrating the life and work of Professor Fernea expanded the horizons of the conference to specific areas such as: women’s studies, Middle Eastern literature, the art and practice of film making and a commitment to the social and political changes in the Middle Eastern and North African region.
The plenary keynote speaker for both events was Dr. Emily Apter, Professor of Comparative Literature and French at New York University. Her presence was of extreme value because of her work on French Critical Theory, the History and Theory of Comparative Literature, the problem of "Francophonie," translation studies, French feminism, and nineteenth-and twentieth-century French literature.