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Identity, between the Unspeakable and...

ID II.2.r2


Identity, between the Unspeakable and the Dreadful
(an international interdisciplinary conference held on October 1-16 at Université de Picardie-Jules-Verne, FRANCE)

Is it possible to name to "identity" without running the risk of reifying it? And, where it has been stated in words, does it not evoke forces and ten-sions behind one of the most explosive of human phenomena? Whether it may be conveyed in words or not, identity is one of the most extensively debated words in our contemporary world. The successive upheavals which this phe-nomenon has undergone on a global scale, due to technological, economic and other forms of mutation and to the ensuing loss of habitual points of reference (whether political, sociological or geographical) has brought into question the relevance and validity of our bearings more generally. This state of affairs obliges each of us to face the novelty of his or her destiny and the necessity of choosing an orientation in light of this novel situation. The case of Europe is particularly significant, if it is not exemplary. The obsolescence of past solu-tions, and anxiety in face of an unpredictable future, confer a new significance on the most fundamental existential questions, which come to expression un-der the heading of "identity". The query takes on a collective scope. The ap-parent capacity of a single term to join together different significations un-avoidably raises the question concerning the multiplicity of its dimensions (political, cultural, sexual, economic, political, geographic, etc.) which at times may also reveal themselves, often tacitly, to be not only ambiguous but even contradictory. In neutralizing its emotional charge, one may expect that a debate that unites different human and social sciences will lead to dialogue concerning the different "dimensions" of identity. What is the "sociological" component of singular identities? Is there such a thing as collective identity? What is the role of history and of memory in the articulation of identity? In what manner might the places one frequents contribute to its definition? How do religious beliefs, a language practised, etc. also play a role? And, if at all possible, how might one combine these different aspects as a whole? The en-counter of different disciplines intends to encourage the exposition of different approaches, conceptions and - if possible - definitions. Is identity simple or multiple? Innate or acquired? Is it situated in what is permanent or in what changes? Does it refer to a singular or a collective reality? Otherwise stated, such encounters should permit us to confirm, reformulate or invalidate, in any case to broaden the estimation which, in his own time, Thomas Mann voiced when he situated identity between the unspeakable and the dreadful.

The program of our meetings, organized at the Université de Picardie-Jules Verne, extended over a period of two days, the 15th and 16th of October 2008. The meetings revolved around three topics: The first concerns epistemol-ogy. It proposes to reflect on the notion of identity itself as well as on the view-points of the various disciplines or approaches to this notion. The second con-cerns identity as a problem. Here the papers related identity to other themes: identity and politics, aesthetics, democracy, religion, etc. The third provided the possibility to present talks on particular cases or situations. The fourth half-day was reserved for speakers whose themes do not fit into the topics of the first three. The time allotted to the talks was a maximum of 20 minutes.

Scientific committee
Prof. Jeffrey Andrew Barash, Prof. Bertrand Masquelier, Prof. Olivier Lazzarotti, Prof. Thierry Roche, Équipe "HABITER-PIPS", University of Picardie-Jules-Verne

Prof. Olivier LAZZAROTTI
E-mail: Olivier.Lazzarotti@u-picardie.fr
Faculté d'Histoнire-Géographie
Université de Picardie-Jules-Verne
Chemin du Thil

Conference Secretary:
Ms. Françoise Potelle

International Participation:
Among the international participants two faculty members from the Sofia University took part in the conference — Assoc. Prof. Maria Dimi-trova and Assoc. Prof. Alexander Gungov.