Who is ´us` and who is ´them´ after 9/11 – Reflections on Language, Culture and Literature in Times of Ideological Clashes
Szczecin, September 21-23, 2011
With the end of the Cold War in 1989, hopes for a more peaceful world ran high and visions about global unification prospered. More than twenty years after these earth-shaking events, the Europeans in particular appear to enjoy the political and – occasionally – economic fruits of the demise of state communism, whereas the international community in general is confronted with global warming, multi-national bank terrorism and ideological and religious war fare on a big scale.
The East-West conflict of the past has apparently been replaced by a North-South divide. But while the relations between the antagonists used to be determined by economic exploitation and political oppression of one by the other since colonial times, without the possibility of reversal, recent developments show that the subdued South favoured by a rise of radical Islamic forces hits back. This became most drastically visible with the bomb attacks in New York and Washington, D.C. on 11 September 2001, which aimed at the symbols of Western power and – for the attackers – meant declaring war on the opponent.
On the occasion of the tenth anniversary, the conference intends to raise questions about the new quality of relations between North and South caused by the New York drama. But it also seeks answers related to the mutual history of perceptions since the Christian Crusades in Palestine in the late Middle Ages or the Turkish siege of Vienna in 1683.
Our guidelines could be as such: for culture/history/politics: Is the international community heading towards a Second Cold War? Will growing xenophobia in Europe not only put an end to the visions of a multi-/transcultural society, but also finally harm or even do away with the democratic traditions of European cultures? Are “emergencies” created and for what ends? What do we learn from the previous ideological clashes and global conflicts? For literature: To what extent does literature respond to the new challenges? Are there any innovative approaches? For linguistics: Can we already discover discourses of fear, hate, anger or their binary opposites? How are the notions of “freedom”, “terror” or “identity” culturally/linguistically defined? For education: Can English as a lingua franca help to communicate a more tolerant picture of the `Other´? Or does it simply cover up cultural differences? Why does language policy matter in building a better future?
After the 2009 conference on stereotypes, twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain the conference organisers of the English Philology Department at Szczecin University are now pleased to invite scholars from the fields of literature, culture, history, politics and linguistics to present papers with a view on the impact “9/11” had on their particular academic subjects. Though one focus of presentations will be on Anglophone cultures, we are as much anxious to attract attention from non-Anglophone ones. Inspired by the worldwide debate on 9/11, we also hope for a general discussion on the changing nature of terrorism and its varied social and political constituents.