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2016 BHPC Graduate Student Colloquium — “From Reinforcement to Resistance: Books as Cultural Agents & (De)Colonial Agents”

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Books, texts, films and other cultural artifacts are often viewed as objects without any inherent agency other than as representations of human action or authorial intention. New opportunities for engaging book history are arising from new materialist, more-than-human, and postcolonial theories, and this year’s colloquium seeks to foster some of this burgeoning research. Recent scholarship, such as that of Bruno Latour, has been influential in positioning objects as social agents, while Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has illuminated how books and curricula have functioned as tools of cultural destruction. We seek out papers that explore the agency of books and particularly their role in the (re)production, maintenance, or destruction of ideology. Books and other media have the potential to serve as more than passive sites through which humans exert power. We are interested in how books have supported, subverted or resisted colonial regimes and other forms of oppression, including re-education schemes. We welcome papers that move away from dichotomies of support and resistance, asking how have books nuanced, altered, adapted, tempered, ignored, or appropriated aspects of colonial or cultural regimes.

We welcome applications from graduate students working in any era, region, and discipline. Possible sub-topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

● Control over book production and publication (including censorship)
● The unintended legacies and multifarious receptions of books
● Studies of books and curricula from Canada’s residential schools
● Colonial traces: archives, documents, and other objects complicit in imperial and colonial power structures
● Projects aiming at decolonising books, print, archives, and documentary sources
● Encounters between print and oral practices
● The role of digital media in relation to regimes of control
● Books and the “practice of everyday life”: books as sites of small-scale tactics of resistance
● Books as active social agents in religious texts and practices
● Sentient books and texts in literature
● The many lives of a single book or text in relation to a colonial project

The colloquium will be held on March 5, 2016 at the Upper Library in Massey College at the University of Toronto, with keynote speeches by Professor Pamela Klassen, who will speak about her latest book project, The Story of Radio Mind: A Missionary’s Journey on Indian Land, and Professor Barton Scott, author of Spiritual Despots: Modern Hinduism and the Genealogies of Self-Rule.

Deadline for proposals is December 11th, 2015 . We will accept paper proposals of 150-200 words. We will also accept panel proposals for multi-person themed panels: please give a brief overview of the proposed panel theme and 150-200 word abstracts for each panel presenter in one document. To submit an abstract or for further inquiries, please contact bhpccolloquium2016@gmail.com .


Saturday, March 5, 2016
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Upper Library, Massey College
4 Devonshire Place
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2E1 Canada
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