[URBANTH-L]The New Exotic Conference - CFP

Vijay Devadas vijay.devadas at otago.ac.nz
Sun Mar 1 20:01:06 EST 2009

Dear colleagues & friends,

please see CFP below, and circulate as appropriate. A PDF is also  

best wishes, vijay

'The New Exotic? Postcolonialism and Globalization’ Conference

24-26 June, 2009, Organised by the Postcolonial Studies Research  
Network, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Keynote Speakers: Professor Robert J.C. Young, New York University;  
Professor Graham Huggan, University of Leeds; Associate Professor  
Susie O’Brien, McMaster University

Postcolonial theory and criticism have consistently pointed to the  
exploitative and oppressive effects of exoticism in relation to the  
(post)colonised world: where Edward Said’s account of orientalism as a  
mode of perception facilitated extensive postcolonial critiques of  
colonial as well as more recent constructions of ‘the exotic,’  
contemporary work also takes account of the global late-capitalist  
system in which these exoticist discourses circulate. However, while  
the notion of the exotic has been subjected to rigorous postcolonial  
critique, it persists in both popular and institutional constructions  
of culture and cultural difference. Is this the persistence of old  
exoticisms, or are there new forms, objects, modes of circulation?

An exoticist perspective constitutes ‘the other’ as the domesticated  
and known other, positing the lure of difference while assimilating  
its object to the circuits of consumption (of ideas, experiences,  
objects, images, and so on). It constructs the other, or projects  
otherness, from the point of view of the hegemonic Same, the known,  
the familiar. What, then, is the fate of the other, of otherness? As  
the global economy has shifted towards an emphasis on consumption,  
information, services and experiences — such as tourism, domestic or  
abroad — and towards a need to market not only products but even  
nations for ‘difference’, we are daily addressed through, and incited  
to participate in, exoticist discourses. Even postcolonial practices  
in teaching and research are susceptible to complicity with the  
exoticism it supposedly critiques.

This conference seeks to investigate the various ways exoticism  
functions across a wide range of social, political, cultural and  
ecological domains. We ask such questions as: Why do exoticist  
practices and discourses persist in the face of postcolonial critique?  
Are these discourses sustained and circulated through old or new  
mechanisms? Is there, perhaps, anything enabling or agential for the  
(post)colonised in mobilising discourses of the exotic? How can  
places, foods, fashion and experiences continue to be marketed as  
‘exotic,’ or through appeal to ‘the exotic,’ despite a growing  
awareness of the dangers of such marketing? What politics underlie the  
embrace or proscription of exotic plants and animals; how do  
nostalgia, aesthetics, ecology, environmentalism and bio-security  
inflect these stances? Who, what or where are the new objects of  
exoticist discourses? How has exoticism inflected discourses of  
sexuality? How does exoticism signify differently through trans- 
national communications circuits and flows of images and products, and  
at nation-state borders? How does globalisation point to both total  
access and knowability, and the allure of exotic otherness? What other  
forms of otherness remain possible within this politico-semiotic  
economy? How does exoticism relate to the increasing hybridity of  
populations and cultures, as well as plant and animal biological  
forms? After colonial discourses of degeneration with transplantation  
of ‘exotics’, what discourses pertain today relating to  
‘transplantation’, to subjects of migration and diaspora? Have  
practices in postcolonial studies theory and research overcome the  
complicity of that field with notions of exoticism, or do they  
continue to underlie or haunt the field?

We invite 20-minute papers or panels of up to three 20-minute papers  
from across the disciplines, including interdisciplinary work, that  
address any aspect of the topic of the postcolonial exotic, such as:

The persistence of colonial forms of exoticism, or exoticist  
practices, discourses
The contemporary emergence of new forms, practices or discourses of  
The adequacy or otherwise of postcolonial theory or critique to  
intervene in and subvert exoticist discourses
Contemporary circuits of exoticist representations
Exoticism and indigeneity
The relation of exoticism to other forms of difference, otherness
The politics of the exotic as applied to plants and animals
Desires or affects of the exotic; exoticism/eroticism; fetishism
Banal vs. spectacular exoticism
How exoticism articulates race/racism, or nation/nationalism/culture
The place of exoticism in postcolonial studies teaching and research
Please send abstracts of up to 500 words and a short bio. note (panels  
should submit an abstract and bio. note for each paper) to Dr Chris  
Prentice (chris.prentice at stonebow.otago.ac.nz) by 15 April, 2009.


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