Conference Theme: “Fearful Futures”

October 31 – November, 2018 | Tokyo, Japan

We have reached a moment in international history that is one of potential paradigm shift. It is a moment when a problematic, but at least blandly progressivist, pro-multiculturalist movement toward “cosmopolitanism” (as Kwame Anthony Appiah might use the term) is being threatened by a far more destructive and potentially genocidal ethno-nationalism, the ferocity of which is fuelled by economic disparity, religious intolerance and retrograde ideologies regarding gender, race and sexuality. The possible global futures we face are fearful, indeed, and in an era of information and disinformation, fake news, and hysterical polemic, are sometimes made out to be inevitable.

In this context, the arts, humanities, media and cultural studies play an important role in tracing the genealogy of the present moment, documenting it, and charting different paths forward, inviting such questions as how does culture replicate itself (or critically engage itself) in the classroom, in literature, in social media, in film, in the visual and theatrical arts, in the family, and among peer groups? How do we rise to the challenge of articulating a notion of human rights that also respects cultural difference? How do cultural representations of the environment abet or challenge the forces driving climate change? What are the roles and responsibilities of the individual activist as teacher, writer, artist, social scientist and community member? What are the responsibilities of both traditional and non-traditional media? How do we make sense of the ideologies driving hatred and intolerance, and posit different models of social engagement and organisation? Looking to the past, what do we learn about the challenges of today?

This international and interdisciplinary conference will bring together a range of academics, independent researchers, artists and activists to explore the challenges that we face in the twenty-first century. In the hackneyed While we have every right to fear the future, we also have agency in creating that future. Can we commit to a cosmopolitanism that celebrates difference and that challenges social inequity? On our ability to answer to that question affirmatively likely hangs our very survival.

The organisers encourage submissions that approach the conference theme from a variety of perspectives. However, the submission of other topics for consideration is welcome and we also encourage sessions within and across a variety of interdisciplinary and theoretical perspectives.

Join us in 2018 in Tokyo to consider how we as educators do not only survive, but also positively thrive, in these uncertain and changing times.

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