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UMRAN-International Symposium 2021

Call for Papers

Exploring ‘Identity’ through Culture, Literature and History

(Identity and Text)

There have been various approaches to understanding the notion of identity. This subject has been vastly explored and attempts have been made to define identity for philosophical, psychological and sociological studies. The word has its etymological root in the Latin identitas, which means sameness, but the term because of its abstract and fissiparous nature resists all attempts at being defined empirically. While in philosophy there could be varied possible relations between two identical beings, it could also mean self-imaging or conception of a person or their social representation and community identity. Identity also can imply gender identity, cultural identity, and national identity or be used to refer to more than one of them collectively. Capable of being fixed and fluid, inclusive and exclusive, inherent and contingent at once, identity as a notion is difficult to define. Stuart Hall in Cultural  Identity and Diaspora underlines how cultural identity itself is viewed both as “oneness” rooted in some  past as well as “a matter of ‘becoming’ as well as ‘being’.”

“Far from being eternally fixed in some essentialised past, it is subject to the continuous ‘play’ of history, culture and power. Far from being grounded in a mere ‘recovery’ of the past, which is waiting to be found, and which, when found, will secure our sense of ourselves into eternity, identities are the names we give to the different ways we are positioned by, and position ourselves within, the narratives of the past”.

This symposium tries to look at the various attempts of understanding identity and examine it as a process as well as a category of practice. Literature and historiography play a significant role in identity formation. Moreover, they themselves are affected by the configuration of various identities and identity politics. Fernand Braudel in A History of Civilizations mentions at the very outset (in the Chapter, “Changing Vocabulary”) that the terms in social sciences do not allow for a decisive definition; rather any understanding of it requires looking at it through all the social sciences. As Braudel suggests in the case of civilisation, even in the case of identity,  we need to see identity through geography, history, society, thought and all possible varied lenses to even near a decisive notion of it.

Marshall G S Hodgson reflected on history in terms of identity differently than Eurocentrism and Orientalism. He imagined history in a broader context as Braudel would say singular understanding of Civilization or straight-line history.  Hodgson depicted a global picture of world history or hemispheric history than binary East and West, in which the “Rise of Europe” is the product of a long process and developments in Eurasian society; modernity was conceived long back in Eurasia with the establishment of cities and emergence of complex society in the city due to the network of trades.

We invite proposals that try to explore identity both as a category of analysis and of practice. This analysis could be a philosophical one, following the theories of identity by Gottfried Leibniz, Hegel, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Ricoeur, and others or concepts like trans-world identity and counterpart relations in relation with culture, literature and history. One can also consider identity as a psychological category, and look at the processes of self-imaging and its impacts on the identity of the person. Society and self are not totally exclusive categories but are mutually dependent. Community and cultural identity are then an inextricable part of any comprehensive inquiry into the concept and processes of identity. Whereas history and literature quite clearly play a part in identity formation, one should not forget the role identity politics play in writing the text and creating a hegemonic discourse. Conversely, literature and alternative historiography also gives a voice to the marginalised identities.  In In the Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes points out the confirmation bias of the author which challenges the need of history for being objective towards its subject:

“But of course, my desire to ascribe might more be a reflection of my cast of mind than a fair analysis of what happened. That’s the central problem of history… The question of subjective versus objective interpretation.”

Discourse for most parts is owned by those at the centre, thereby making certain identities more acceptable and privileging them by pushing others to the periphery. This is not to say, that those being cornered do not resist; they do so both in resistance literature and alternate history. To talk about identities in the post-colonial era, Antonio Benítez Rojo (Havana 1931), in “La isla que se repite: El Caribe y la perspectiva posmoderna”, 1989 (“The Repeating Island”), introduces the concept of super syncretism, thus stating that cultures are not born from just a few but from very complex influences and blending processes of cultures. The Caribbean is a paradigmatic example since the blending includes indigenous peoples from the Americas and the islands of the Caribbean, people brought from Africa and European peoples. Antonio Benítez Rojo calls this not mere syncretism but super-syncretism due to the complexity of the different processes that took place in the formation of new peoples that led to the nations that we know nowadays. Identity formation is thus understood as a very dynamic and never-ending process. With this in mind, we invite works related to but not limited to:

  •       Identity as a philosophical concept
  •       The notion of self and processes of self-formation
  •       Cultural Identity: practices of inclusion and exclusion to form communities
  •       Boundaries as a method of identity formation
  •       History, identity formation and identity politics
  •       Indigenous identities in literature and history 
  •       Resistance literature
  •       Re-thinking History as Global Identity
  •       How History shapes Literature and Identity

Prospective participants are also requested to consider the topics of the four sessions of the symposium while sending the abstracts:

Session 1: Identities and Resistance: Re-thinking History
Session 2: Identity in the Posthuman
Session 3: Writing Identity: Identity and Text
Session 4: Global Citizenship and Universal Identity: Is it a possibility?

Please submit a 175-300 word abstract for a 15 minute long paper presentation by 08/02/2021. In case of any further queries, mail us at symposium@umran.org.in  or rajeev.kumar@umran.org.in.

Click here to submit your Abstract


Professor Mousumi G Banerjee
Associate Professor & Head, Department of English Literature, The EFL University, Regional Campus, Shillong, Meghalaya, India. She has been a Fulbright-Nehru Postdoctoral Research Fellow and a Visiting Scholar (2019-20), at Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts, USA. She is also an Associate with the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), Shimla, India. Her research interests include literary theories, postmodern criticisms, Western philosophy, text, language, and hermeneutics, poetic language, women’s writing and writings about women and film criticism. She has extensively published on these areas in journals, magazines and anthologies, and has spoken on her work at various Institutions, national and international. Her books include Writings across Genres: Indian Literature, Language and CultureDaring to Write: The Two Creative Daughters of Victorian EnglandEmily Dickinson: Writing as a Woman, and she is currently working on two book-length projects.

Professor Bruce B Lawrence
Professor Emeritus of Religion at Duke University & Visiting Professor at Ibn Haldun University;  Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion. His research domains include the Comparative Study of Religious Movements, Institutional Islam (especially in Asia), Indo-Persian Sufism, the Religious Masks of Violence, Contemporary Islam as Abrahamic Faith and Religious Ideology.

Professor Heba Raouf Ezzat
Professor at the Department of Civilizations Studies and the Department of Political Science and International Relations, Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul Turkey. Her research domains include comparative political theory, changing maps of citizenship and urban sociology.

Professor Félix Ceballos (Pen Name – Roberto Segrov)
Associate Professor of English Literature, University Foundation Compensar, Bogotá, Colombia.
Roberto Segrov was born in Bogotá in 1980. He is a poet, storyteller, novelist, and translator. He has published the poetry books Breakwater (Formas de romper las olas, Argentina, 2018), Lunar Triptych (Tríptico Lunar, Colombia, 2019), Studies for the Attempt of Certain Nightmares (Estudios para el intento de ciertas pesadillas, Colombia, 2019); the book of short stories A Constant Twilight (Un crepúsculo que no termina, Spain, 2019), and the Novel Anatomy of the Abyss (Anatomía del abismo, Colombia, 2020). His contributions to periodicals are numerous. He has collaborated with the cultural magazine Días Temáticos on “Viernes de literatura”. He is a regular contributor to the literature column called “Oquedades” in the cultural magazine Literariedad.

Supported by 

Professor Bruce B Lawrence, Professor Emeritus of Religion at Duke University & Visiting Professor at Ibn Haldun University;  Nancy and Jeffrey Marcus Humanities Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Religion.

Professor Vahdettin Isik, Dean of Alliance of Civilizations Institute, Ibn Haldun University.


Profesor Félix Ceballos, Master in Literature, Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. B.A in Philology and Languages English, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

Mr. Rajeev Kumar, Founder and Managing Director of  UMRAN, Master in Arts and Teaching Fellow at Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul, Turkey.

Ms. Payal Priya, Volunteer at Umran and Junior Research Fellow at J.N.U, New Delhi, India. 

Important Dates 

Last date for submitting the abstract – 8/02/2021
Acceptance mail will be sent by – 15/02/2021
Last date to submit the full paper – 10/03/2021 
Notification for presentation of paper- 20/03/2021
Presentation of the paper- March 27-28th

Abstract Submission Format
  1.     Title of the Abstract
  2.     Name of the Presenter
  3.     Designation
  4.     Contact details: Phone number and email address
Abstract Guidelines Structure:
  1. The acceptable word range for the abstract is 175 – 300 words
  2. Your submission should be in English.
  3. Applicants are encouraged to send an informative abstract (complete abstract) which is a summary of a paper’s substance including its background, purpose, methodology, results, and conclusion.
Full paper Submission Guidelines
  1. Font: Times New Roman
  2. Font Size: 12
  3. Word limit for the Full Paper- 2500-5000 words

The symposium shall be held online via Zoom platform. English shall be the medium of communication and paper presentation.

A selection of quality papers will be considered for publication by a renowned (peer-reviewed) publisher. 

All qualified participants will be awarded with certificate at the end of the symposium by panellists.

Copyright Notice:

Authors who submit to this conference agree to the following terms:

  1. a) Authors retain copyright over their work, while allowing the conference to place this unpublished work under a Creative Commons Attribution License, which will enable others to freely access, use, and share the work, with an acknowledgement of the work’s authorship and its initial presentation at this conference.
  2. b) Authors can waive the terms of the CC license and enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution and subsequent publication of this work (e.g., publish a revised version in a journal, post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial presentation at this conference.
  3. c) Furthermore, authors are encouraged to post and share their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) at any point before and after the conference.

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