CFP: Social Cohesion in Times of Uncertainty, 24-25 September 2017

The annual Cumberland Colloquium stimulates discussion on areas of pressing social and ethical importance. This year’s theme is ‘Social Cohesion in Times of Uncertainty’.

We live in an increasingly uncertain world. In recent years we have seen a chain of overlapping and intersecting crises – from the financial crisis to the refugee crisis, the ecological crisis and the crisis of liberal democracy. These crises pull us unevenly in every direction: pressing strangers together and pulling neighbours apart, creating new forms of hate and new forms of kinship. In these uncertain times, what are the prospects for social cohesion? How do we make sense of these issues from diverse disciplinary positions and professional backgrounds, and where are the commonalities between our understandings?

We welcome proposals for presentations of research papers, roundtable discussions, film screenings and other events, from both academics (of all disciplinary backgrounds) and practitioners interested in social cohesion, broadly conceived, from community volunteers to social workers, from activists to artists, and addressing any of the following questions:

1. What should social cohesion look like and how can we build it?

Contributors are asked to (re)define social cohesion, and/or to suggest how we can improve the cohesiveness of our communities and societies in a time of uncertainty, in relation to, for example: community relations; apathy, participation and protest; structural and socio-economic inequalities.

2. How can we understand and bridge the many gaps in our society?

Contributors are asked to address the causes of gaps, such as prejudice or lack of opportunity/support; impact of diversity or contact; relevant theories and practical interventions.

3. How might we re-examine the complex relation between cultural works and social cohesion?

Contributors are asked to re-evaluate representations of cohesion/fragmentation in literature and film. From Kendrick Lamar to Sinclair Lewis, what makes for effective political/activist art that can respond to crises of cohesion?

4. How do businesses enhance or hinder social cohesion?

Contributors are asked to consider changing expectations, roles and responsibilities of businesses in addressing social problems, including rights struggles, and as sites and ‘spaces’ of identity and cohesion.

5. How does the politics of (in)security affect cohesion?

Contributors are asked to consider terrorism, counter-terrorism and their effects on communities and cohesion; impacts of the refugee crisis; white supremacist violence after the assassination of Jo Cox MP; and the state of/and multiculturalism today.

Please send proposals / abstracts of no more than 300 words for presentations, roundtable discussions, film screenings or other events to colloquium@cumberlandlodge.ac.uk. The deadline for proposals is 9 June 2017. Other enquiries should be sent to Dr Matt Donoghue (matthew.donoghue@spi.ox.ac.uk).

The 2017 Cumberland Colloquium Organising Committee
Matt Donoghue (University of Oxford), Kerstin Frie (University of Oxford) Samentha Goethals (Independent Researcher), Sadek Kessous (Newcastle University), Ben Whitham (De Montfort University)