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Bachelor's and Master's Programs

Culture at Our Borders

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Hosted by IAU College

July 5-6, 2018
Barcelona, Spain

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Conference Contacts
Conference Theme
Registration Details
Abstracts and Biographies
About IAU College
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Contact Information

Maria Van Liew, PhD  
Professor of Spanish Language & Culture
West Chester University
West Chester, PA (USA)
Zlatan Filipovic, PhD
Associate Professor of English & Comparative Literature
Jönköping University
Jönköping (Sweden)

If you have any logistical queries or requirements, please contact Maria who knows Barcelona and Catalunya quite well, and organizes the cultural activities in coordination with overall programming. Zlatan has been organizing the topics, themes and participants, and can address your questions in that regard.

Please note, abstracts and biographies will be published after the April 1st registration deadline. 

Conference Theme

It has become increasingly difficult today to define or characterize cultural belonging. This, however, is not only due to globalization and mass migrations that constitute our modern condition but also to the inherent instability of the very concepts of culture, tradition or community. This is not to suggest that culture has disappeared but rather that it has become impossible today to think of cultures as homogeneous, providing us with a sense of collective identity and totalizing expressions of community. The globalizing movement of modernity, the deterritorializing flows of its economic relations and the increasing migration that follows it show that the boundaries between traditionally perceived cultures have dissolved while the concept of culture itself is more than ever characterized by internal tensions and contradictions. It is then neither cultural identity nor its constitutive outside that is central to culture but rather the movement, a culture-in-transfer, in which it already resides. This movement brings with it the diaporization of cultures and identities that can no longer be essentialized, reterritorialized and constructed across its differences as homogenous. Indeed, as Hardt and Negri (2000) have already argued: “We must cleanse ourselves of any misplaced nostalgia for the belle époque of that modernity” (47).

The fact that the uniform notion of culture, seen as homogenous, has finally met its demise is also what calls for its violent recrudescence. We can witness this across the Western political landscape, in particular, where vigorous resurgence of cultural nationalism, racial orthodoxy and ethnocentric revivalism is gaining traction, becoming a political presence that generates new claims of legitimacy for the subject. Cross-cultural encounters that constantly open up and question the established systems of value are giving rise to defensive consolidations of identity and cultural belonging rather than changes of historically determined attitudes. Old hatreds flare up, suppressed anxieties of social displacements are reanimated and the mythogeny of body, blood, birth, origin, nation, land, faith, seen as closures of cultural identity, is again rekindled in identity politics and the nostalgic rhetoric of nationalist movements. The “belle époque” of modernity and its horrors seems on the verge of repeating itself. But, perhaps, cultures have never been part of that époque. The concepts of nation, of race and ethnic absolutism we have used to determine our place in modernity, have given the impression of there being something else that preexists our present and our history that have always been characterized by the movement of innumerable and partial differences. Perhaps our reality has, in fact, always been in movement, never one but constituted of a myriad of syncretic narratives, crosscurrents of meaning and transcultural encounters. 

This conference will focus on cultures in transfer in literary, cultural studies and theory, welcoming contributions that may cover but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Significance of home in diaspora literatures
  • Authenticity and nostalgia
  • (Im)possibility of place in a global world
  • Identity formation in transcultural contexts    
  • Diaspora and its (dis)contents
  • Affect theory and cultural displacement
  • Gender and diasporic identity
  • Queering migration
  • Liminality and borders
  • Circulation of memory
  • Migration and cultural dispossession
  • Ethnicity and race in global community
  • Cultural difference in the Anthropocene
  • World literature, a moving concept

View the conference itinerary here!

Registration Details

Please submit the $100 registration fee by April 1st to confirm your place in the conference. Note that the payment must be made in USD. 

Participants can pay directly through the IAU online credit card portal or via check.

For the credit card payments, please click the link above, select “Other Payment,” and then include “Culture at Our Borders Conference Registration + YOUR NAME” in the description box.

For checks, please include “Culture at Our Borders Conference Registration” in the memo line and mail it to:

     Institute for American Universities
     409 Camino del Rio South
     Suite 303
     San Diego CA 92108

Participants paying from outside of the United States should call +1-800-221-2051 to process the payment via credit card. 

Abstracts and Biographies

View the conference abstracts as well as biographies for the current participants here.

About IAU College

The mission of the Institute for American Universities is to provide excellence in international education, inspire intercultural awareness, and prepare students for success in a global community through the study of European and Mediterranean history, languages, cultures, and contemporary issues.

The Institute for American Universities (IAU) in Aix-en-Provence, France was founded in 1957 by academics and former diplomats such as Dr. Herbert Maza, who also served as its first President, Dr. Evron Kirkpatrick, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and others who wanted to provide a platform for Americans interested in studying diplomatic relations with related interests and careers in the foreign service and the State Department. It was established as one of the first American-style, English language, liberal arts educational institutions in Western Europe under the authority of Aix-Marseille University and offered a study abroad program, providing for transfer credit to those willing to live and study in France for one year. With its inception, it became the first institution to offer study abroad programs to students with majors other than French language.

By 1966 IAU had an enrollment of approximately 150 students and in 1976 it incorporated The Marchutz School of Fine Arts (founded by Leo Marchutz) into its offerings. In 2012, IAU continued to expand its program offerings, curriculum, and support services to further mirror those found at U.S. institutions. In 2013, IAU expanded to include a summer program option in Barcelona, Spain and also began offering multi-country January term/intersession seminars in Europe and North Africa. In doing so, IAU demonstrated the duty it felt of leveraging site specificity - specifically the Mediterranean region - in the education of its students. Shortly thereafter, IAU began welcoming U.S. faculty-led programs to support U.S. professors seeking a customized study abroad experience for their students.  A resident fellows program that supports university faculty on sabbatical, soon followed. In 2015, IAU began offering degree programs and welcomed its first MFA (Master's of Fine Arts) students at the School of Art. Master's Degrees in French Studies and International Relations, along with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, began enrolling students in 2016. To date, IAU has served more than 700 colleges and universities, more than 20,000 undergraduates, and has an annual enrollment of over 1,000.