CFP Academia and Identity – when Research meets Activism

DSCN0346Call for contributions * Academia and Identity – when Research meets Activism *

Workshop and lectures
Monday 16th of March 2015, Leuven

IDEA AND AIM OF THE WORKSHOP

In a diverse society, the formation of identities and groups is subject to a continuing political struggle within the public sphere. Identity serves as a source of political commitment, as a catalyst for political mobilisation, and/or as a subject of political conflicts. Identity creates shared interests, and as such makes them tangible. It is also a source of solidarity networks and cooperation, while the boundaries of what constitutes an identity continue to create an ongoing struggle of who belongs and who doesn’t. The “politics of identity” is therefore personal.

Also for scholars belonging to a (cultural, ethnical, sexual,…) minority, identity is a source of commitment. It inspires their research, it often becomes the subject of their research, but it also drives their political commitment. The intrinsic personal and political characteristics of such a research usually demands for a closer involvement by the researcher, not only to the research topic but also to the research subjects. Because of this involvement, it is not surprising that many scholars are (also) involved in political action.

Yet, politics don’t stop at the borders of universities and other academic institutions; they are an integral part of society and therefore of universities as well. As such, identity politics also influence research policy, applications and promotions. Influenced by evolutions and debates within the larger society, universities and university colleges develop gender action plans, diversity plans and non-discrimination policies. These policy measures are of great personal importance to and have a large influence on the career opportunities of scholars belonging to a minority group.

However, the tension between an academic career and societal commitment increases, as academic careers are built on research outputs measured by sophisticated bibliometrics. Education and especially societal commitment are barely taken into account within evaluation procedures and promotions. We want to offer a platform to engage in and encourage the debate about the connections between research and activism.

For this workshop, we want to bring together scholars and activists from different (disciplinary) backgrounds, minority groups and/or countries to discuss the balance between academic work at the one hand, and political commitment on the politics of identity on the other. As such, we would like to exchange:
– experiences: which problems and difficulties do academics experience when combining academic work and political commitment? Which impact does it have on their career opportunities?
– personal and collective strategies: how do academics cope with this tension, which personal balance do they look for, which alliances are developed, and which strategies and tactics are used to achieve this balance?
– analyses of diverse societal contexts: public culture, policy and law towards minorities differ strongly from one country to another. As such, this might influence the personal and collective strategies that academics could use.
CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS – ‘Short stories’ on identity, research and activism

For the afternoon sessions, we cordially invite you to share your own experiences as a researcher, activist en individual. Interested people are encouraged to send us a page in which they briefly introduce their own background concerning academia/political/activist commitment, together with an idea they would like to present. Based on these ideas, the submissions will be divided into two thematic sessions. Within these sessions, each presenter will have ten minutes to present an idea. This can be anything: good or bad experiences (or one specific experience), in personal or professional life (or the overlap between the two), a theoretical consideration, a personal reflection, suggestions for ‘good practices’, or urgent questions that one might struggle with, …

Everyone is warmly encouraged to share their thoughts and reflections, no matter how many years of experience, what disciplinary background, …
More information on how to contribute can be found on our website.

Please e-mail your idea or any questions to Valerie.Decraene[at]ees.kuleuven.be and marion.wasserbauer[at]uantwerpen.be before the 15th of Jan ’15.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Lectures and workshop will take place in
STUK Kunstencentrum vzw
Naamsestraat 96
Leuven, Belgium

Important dates
– 15-01-’15: deadline submissions ‘short stories’
– 01-03-’15: deadline registration (admission is free, but registration is required)

Working language will be English, but we invite everyone to use their language of preference so as to avoid language barriers as much as possible.

For further information and the full program, please visit our website.

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