Border Seminar 2021: (Re)Thinking Border Studies / Communication across Borders
May 25-27, 2021 University of Gdańsk
The Border Studies Group at the University of Gdansk welcomes proposals for the online Border Seminar 2021 on the themes of (Re)Thinking Border Studies and Communication across Borders.
The Border Seminar is an interdisciplinary conference organized at the University of Gdańsk by the Border Studies Group (BSG), an international team of literary/cultural scholars, linguists, historians, sociologists, artists, and educators interested in research and pedagogy centered on the notion of the border.
For obvious reasons last year’s conference, which would have been our third, had to be cancelled. This year, we want to return to the 2020 topic – “(Re)Thinking Border Studies” – and add a new one – “Communication across Borders.” Our proposed themes are not mutually exclusive.
On the one hand, we recognize that Border Studies is a discipline with its own leading scholarship and an evolving conceptual apparatus. Thus, we ask: what is the history and the current state of the Border Studies debate? What is (are) the Border Studies’ method(s)? As a diverse group of scholars whose backgrounds rarely are in traditional Border Studies the BSG wants to think creatively about the field. What vocabulary or practices can we contribute to (re)thinking Border Studies?
Our second theme, “Communication across Borders,” is perhaps more pertinent to the crisis we have faced since early 2020. The pandemic has exposed our geopolitical as well as intimate permeabilities and brought home the need for stronger transborder, transnational cooperation. But also, it has highlighted the opposite: that borders and their protection are essential priorities. In short, we have been erecting new walls while devising ways of their transcending. The modern digital media have sustained us in the latter facilitating exchanges on an unprecedented scale. Thus, we propose to ponder various (literary, philosophical, linguistic, historical, sociological, pedagogical, psychological, artistic, etc.) ramifications of this new arrangement, of our new, to use Marshall McLuhan’s phrase, “total environmental situation.”
If, as Derrick de Kerckhove argues, the Internet has led to a “Global Epistemological Crisis” is the pandemic a type of McLuhanian “apocalypse” which, as it pushes us deeper into the new media, will allow us to snap out from their spell and renew our sense of community and responsibility? In what ways have instant documentation and distribution of information enabled mass mobilizations, as well as blurred the line between fact and fiction, actor and spectator? What is the interface between such linguistic phenomena as superdiversity (as described by Blommaert and Rampton), the lingua franca such as English, translanguaging, etc. and the rise of communication without language, messages based on algorithms, and the disappearance of the relationship between the signifier and the signified (de Kerckhove)? What can history teach us about similar moments of contradictory crises? These are just some of the questions we ask in hope of making a better sense of the current confusion.
The Border Seminar 2021 will involve individual presenters, panel sessions, special lectures, a workshop session, performances.
Individual papers should not exceed 20 minutes. The conference is fee-free and will be held on the Zoom platform.
The proceedings will be recorded, and selections will be made available on the UG website.
NOTE: Although Border Seminar is not a strictly linguistic conference this year a special BSG issue of Beyond Philology focused on linguistics is planned. Editors Martin Blaszk and Maciej Rataj suggest explorations of, for example:
bilingualism or multilingualism, e.g. code switching and mixing
dialect continua across state borders and other aspects of sociolinguistic variation
bilingual and multilingual countries and their language policies
contact varieties: pidgins, creoles and post-creole varieties
analysis of Internet conversations and of Internet-based communities of practice
slang and jargon among Internet users
aspects of Internet politeness and linguistic formality
Internet-related linguistic innovations, catalyst for language change
the social media meme culture