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Call for Papers

Shifting Borders

17-18 March 2006
Concordia University

Within the expanding field of visual culture, what meanings should we attach to the notion of ‘borders’? The Art History graduate conference organizing committee of Concordia University is calling for papers for its fifth conference, Shifting Borders.

From Benedict Anderson’s theory of imagined communities built around a greater access to popular script languages, to Homi K. Bhabha’s suggestion that opposites are empty projections in which we live “in between”, twentieth-century thinkers have proposed new frameworks for the understanding of borders. These notions have shifted the definition of borders away from static dividing lines towards dynamic populated spaces: unstable elements which are continuously renegotiated by political, economic, and cultural factors.

In North America, identity is increasingly being defined by oppositions.  Labeling what a nation, group, person, or thing is not can be likened to objective self-definition. There are varied manifestations of this phenomenon – in the politics of Canada, the United States, and Mexico, from trade to cultural polices – yet an overlooked aspect of these defining oppositions is their construction of hermetic divides between their constitutive parts.  These conceptual partitions can act as borders, predetermining both our visual experience of everyday reality and our cultural choices.

To reflect on the significance of borders in North American visual culture, the art history graduate conference organizing committee of Concordia University invites MA, MFA, and PhD candidates, as well as postdoctoral fellows, to submit abstracts in English or French.  Topics may address (but are not limited to) the following:

•    Physical borders vs. conceptual borders in visual culture
•    The frame as a permeable or impermeable border
•    Skin as the border of the self in visual culture
•    Architecture: spatial divides and identities
•    Languages: barrier and/or bridge in visual communication?
•    Images of death: the ultimate border?
•    Class, ethnicity and gender - crossing borders and encountering barriers
•    New Technologies: Transcending or Constructing Borders?

Abstracts should be in Microsoft Word or PDF format and sent no later than December 1, 2005 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . The selection of papers and organization of panels will be completed by January 3, 2006. Final presentations should not exceed twenty minutes. Panel moderators will expect to receive final drafts of the papers by February 15, 2006.