December 20, 2017, by James Pattison

The 10th Enquire Conference: Identity, Belonging and Activism in the 21st Century

The next ENQUIRE conference will be held on Saturday 24 February 2018. This is an annual event showcasing postgraduate and early career research from a wide range of social science disciplines and academic institutions. We have a track record of providing a positive and encouraging environment for the presentation of research on a breadth of topics.

Registration for the conference is now open.

The theme for the conference focuses on issues of identity, belonging and activism, how they interrelate and how they are challenged by contemporary pressures. We begin with four questions:

How do the pressures of austerity, migration and populism impact on identity and belonging in the 21st century?

What is the emotional cost of maintaining the ‘self’ in circumstances of marginalisation and feelings of ‘unbelonging’?

How are identities challenged by multiple sites of oppression and new threats to community and solidarity?

How does individual and collective action influence policy and bring about social change in this context?

We are delighted to have three excellent keynote speakers whose research addresses the conference theme from a variety of perspectives. The conference will open with Dr Elisabetta Zontini, from the School of Sociology and Social Policy here at Nottingham. Elisabetta will present a paper on the processes of identification, home and belonging of ‘European’ children growing up in the UK at a time of renewed nationalism, Euro-scepticism and ‘Brexit’. She will be discussing the affective side of integration with a focus on the effects of the discursive practices of the state on these processes. Elisabetta writes: “Drawing on the experiences of Italian children and their parents, I explore how they navigate the increasingly neo-assimilationist pressures facing all minorities in the UK and how they accommodate the values of mobility, multilingualism and transnationalism of their parents with the nationalist logic now dominant in many western countries.”

Our second keynote speaker is Dr Charlotte Jones from Sheffield Hallam University. Charlotte will draw on her involvement in ongoing research from Around the Toilet, a collaborative AHRC-funded project. Her talk will consider how the design and use of the public toilet communicates who is welcome and recognised in society, and the potential consequences of pushing some bodies and identities to the margins. Charlotte writes: “Learning from examples of queer, trans and disability movements and their resistance to toilet exclusivity, this discussion will critically examine the notion of ‘(in)accessibility’ and the regulation of space.”

Our final keynote speaker is Anne-Marie Fortier, Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University, with a paper on citizenship and belonging in uncertain times. Anne-Marie writes: “Critical citizenship studies scholars have long taught us that citizens are made and unmade through governing practices that constitute political subjectivities. However, their analyses focus on irregular citizens and presumed noncitizens (Nyers 2006, 2013; Ní Mhurchú 2013; Rygiel 2010). In contrast, I enter the process that already normalises those migrants who are deemed eligible for citizenship and show how the making and unmaking of citizens is part of larger politics and longer history of citizenship and belonging. The normalisation and ‘abnormalisation’ of citizenship and belonging do not always run concomitantly: presumed noncitizens can ‘belong’ as bearers of colonial histories and legacies, while presumed citizens (such as EU citizens) can be pushed into the waiting room of citizenship.”

We hope you will join us for a stimulating and inspiring day of discussion.

Ruth Tarlo is a doctoral researcher in Social Policy at the University of Nottingham.

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