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College of Arts & Sciences

College of Arts & Sciences

Place Performance Identity Symposium

In the decades since the publication of Henri Lefebvre's seminal text The Production of Space, the so-called “spatial turn” in the humanities and social sciences has prompted a profound reevaluation of the ways in which place can function as more than a physical demarcation. Today the spaces we occupy range from the physical to the social to the virtual, and they operate not only as stages for performance but as social actors themselves. As a spatial, social, and cultural construction, place informs the formation of identity (both individual and community); the negotiation of power relations; the shaping of memory; and the performance of ritual. In turn, our performances inflect the space around us, shaping and reshaping its physical, ideological, and emotional fabric. The symposium Place/ Performance/Identity aims to give coherence to this theme, while simultaneously demonstrating the breadth of its scope.


Abstracts should be limited to 250 words and be submitted along with a 3-page CV to by Oct. 15, 2018. Successful candidates will be notified via email no later than October 24, 2018.

We seek proposals for 20-minute presentations that address these ideas from diverse perspectives, across disciplines, cultures, and time periods. Possible topics include but are not limited to: mapping and the negotiations of boundaries; pilgrimage, religious ritual and performance; politics and the ownership of space; colonialism and colonial legacies; identity politics; sacred presence; utopias, paradises, and imagined worlds; processions and movement; civic and secular rites, center and periphery; the transformation of space and alternative geographies; landscape and historical memory virtual space and social media.

This symposium is planned in conjunction with the appointment of the photographer Corine Vermeulen as the 2018-2019 McAndless Distinguished Chair at Eastern Michigan University, and will coincide with an exhibition of her work. Originally from the Netherlands, Vermeulen has made Detroit her home since 2006. Her work portrays resilient urban communities that are in the midst of reinvention, and the forces of revitalization that are emerging in contemporary cities.

We encourage submissions from across the humanities and social sciences, such as: art history, history, languages and literature, musicology, sociology, theater, urban studies, anthropology, archaeology, religious studies, gender and queer studies.

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