Beyond the Politics of Identity
A one day postgraduate conference hosted by the Department of Film and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen on 20th June 2009
The positing of one's identity has become a renewed concern in our world today with its rapidly shifting geopolitical and social boundaries. The anchoring of the self to a specific place and time is key to creating social formations. It is this anchoring of the self within a social fabric which drives not only film practitioners but also the academic study of film and visual culture.
It is no coincidence that film and visual media studies have been inextricably linked to questions of identification and subjectivity. Ever since its institutionalization as an academic discipline in the early 1970s, it has ascribed to the notion that all media interpellates us as subjects. The image dictates its own form of recognition, its own perceptions of identity, and identifying the politics that are involved in that process has become a major concern in academic discourse, not just within the study of visual culture but postcolonial, gender and cultural studies as well. In this context, the politics of identity may be defined not just as the active advancement of the interests of previously marginalized identities but also as the ways in which visual culture creates and manipulates (both at a conscious and a sub-conscious level) images of identity for consumption by the general public.
If non-commercial cinema of the 1960s and 1970s was overtly political and concerned with stylistic representations of cultural and political change, current considerations are propelled by new technologies resulting in the democratization of filmmaking and the ever-increasing recognition that both social and individual identities are unfixed and multiple. Academic critiques of the politics of onscreen identity are accordingly focusing upon contemplation and self-reflexivity, to the point of questioning the very nature of the discourses and frameworks that lie at the nexus of identity and media studies: Why, in our current age of cultural sophistication, does the visual perpetuation of national/ethnic/gender stereotypes persist? What constitutes an 'authentic' representation of identity, given the individual's ability to hold multiple identities simultaneously? The academic community is not longer satisfied with solely engaging with images of identity; instead, it is the tensions of recurring patterns and the representation of multiplicity, history, memory and subjective perspectives which are of concern.
The Department of Film and Visual Culture at the University of Aberdeen is hosting a one-day postgraduate conference entitled Beyond the Politics Of Identity. Interdisciplinary in approach, the conference invites papers that address the concept of identity and the politics of identity at both theoretical and applied levels. Themes include, but are not limited to the following:
- Identity as a concept in changing cultures
- The paradox of constructing national identity in the era of a global media
- New media and the democratization of technologies
- The ethics of representation
- Temporal identities and the media as object
- Identity and the construction of spectatorship
- Redefining history: new representations of the past as determined by the self or others.
The key note speaker is Professor Michael Renov (USC). A prominent film theorist who works on documentary film, Dr. Renov's research interests include documentary theory, autobiography in film and video, video art and activism and representations of the Holocaust. He is the author of Hollywood's Wartime Woman: Representation and Ideology and The Subject of Documentary. He edited Theorizing Documentary, a seminal work in the thinking about documentary, and co-edited Resolutions: Contemporary Video Practices and Collecting Visible Evidence.For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org