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76th Anglo-American Conference - Identi...


Venue: University of London, London, United Kingdom

Proposals for sessions and papers on the theme ‘Identities: National, Regional and Personal’ from all historical periods and different societies from all parts of the world are invited by 30 November 2006. As ever session proposals and papers are welcomed from historians at all stages of their careers.

Identity (whether national, regional or personal) is a major preoccupation among academics in many disciplines. It also has wide political, social and cultural resonances beyond the community of scholars. For these reasons, the 76th Anglo-American Conference will be devoted to this important subject. As always at an Anglo-American Conference, the theme will be treated across as broad a geographical and chronological range as possible. The conference will have a comparative dimension, and the aim is to bring together scholars working on as many historical periods and places as possible.

Identities, whether national, regional or personal, can be defined in relation to a multitude of factors (including language, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, class, heritage, displacement, law, biological descent and genetic make-up), yet the complexity is such that it is highly unlikely that the outcome will be an objective definition, and possibly not a satisfactory subjective one either. Forms of collective identity can clash with each other, and with an individual’s sense of personal identity. Yet at the same time, distinctive perceptions of identity can co-exist within groups and individuals (i.e. plural and overlapping identities). National identities can be defined as a reaction to other identities (or even in opposition to them), in relation to supranational and international identities, and in relation to ideologies and to religious authority. The creation of an identity can involve an apparently infinite number of activities and motives. To research a family tree, for example, can be a pastime, a search for security, or the basis for genocide. The history of many nations – the British Isles is an obvious case – have been a constant discourse between national and regional identities. The value placed on personal identity has varied – and still varies hugely – within differing political systems. Disciplines such as psychology and psychiatry, anthropology, philosophy, and neuro-science offer conceptual frameworks for thinking about personal identity or sense of self. Factors such as immediate environment are important, so too are contemporary notions of individuality and of individual and collective psychology. As a cultural construct or personal attribute, identity is subject to change over time, under the impact of such phenomena as conquest, migration and cultural interchange. It is remarkably flexible and remarkably resilient, often crucial for the displaced, from slaves to voluntary migrants.

With all the above in mind, the central questions to be tackled at the conference are: -

• changing perceptions of national, regional and personal identity across as broad a geographical and chronological range as possible.

• the value of the analysis of identity as a concept for historical understanding.

• the interaction of identities, national, regional and personal.

If you wish to submit either a session (usually consisting of three twenty minute papers and thirty minutes of discussion) or a paper to be included in a session by the organisers with other suitable papers, you should provide the title of your proposed talk, a short synopsis, a statement of academic affiliation and of professional status. If you are proposing a session it would be helpful if you could nominate a Chair as well as Speakers. The full contact details (to include email addresses) of all Speakers / Chairs should also be submitted.

Proposals should be sent to the Conference Administrator, (IHR.Events@sas.ac.uk), Institute of Historical Research, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU.





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