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Categories in Flux; Continuity and/or Change?

International Conference, University of Tübingen, 9 – 11 October, 2019

Most social orders are grounded in categorical frameworks that make clear, though contingent, distinctions between people focused around such concepts as gender, class and ethnicity. In the conference “Categories in Flux”, we will focus on how societal change is connected to change in categories.

Can fairly recent changes in society topple old categories, or can an old social order be subverted by new categories? Do new terms have the power to bring about equality, or do they merely disguise continuing inequalities? While others have previously attempted to explain these phenomena in terms of either continuity or change, we do not see such explanations as mutually exclusive. We take our lead from Raymond Williams, whose concept of the simultaneity of emergent, residual and hegemonic categories paints a picture of a far more complex state of affairs than the simple question “Continuity or Change?” Are we witness to the emergence of something genuinely new? Or how do we know that these final days of patriarchy are not simply a stage in the history of an immensely durable social order? In this conference, we wish to bring together a variety of disciplinary perspectives to discuss current events and the phenomena of “Categories in Flux” in order to explore questions of continuity and/or change. We encourage contributions focused around particular categories in specific fields, areas, practices or pieces of cultural representation, as well as broader reflections on the subject.

Contributions may address, but are not restricted to, the following topics:
• Political rhetorics of continuity and change
• Interdependence of social movements and category change
• Adaptability as a survival strategy of categories
• Persistence of implausible categories
• ‘Tradition’ legitimising old categories in modern societies
• Backlash and social justice movements
• Deconstruction of categories in film and fiction

“Categories in Flux” is an international conference hosted by the interdisciplinary Research Training Group “The Persistence of Gender Binaries” at the Centre for Gender and Diversity Research, University of Tübingen. We invite junior scholars of all social sciences, philosophy, political, cultural and literary studies, as well as any other scholar who engages with ideas on categories and continuity and/or change. The conference will be held in English and German. The conference will bring together distinguished keynote speakers and researchers presenting research papers. At the same time, there will be room to present ‘work in progress’ for PhD students wishing to discuss their thesis projects in the form or poster presentations.

Date: 9 October 2019 - 11 October 2019
Location: University of Tübingen
Type: Conference
Organiser: University of Tübingen
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