CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - An estimated 700 participants from more than 45 countries will gather on June 25-28 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the 5th International Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference.
A principal aim of the conference is to "explore the practical implications of cultural studies in this critical moment in history ... to reach out from the academy to the larger society," said Norman Denzin, a professor at Illinois and the director of the conference.
"A politics of fear has offset a politics of hope," Denzin wrote in an introductory note for the conference program. "In light of these uncertain and violent times, poets, writers, artists and cultural studies scholars from across the world will gather together in common purpose to seek a new politics of resistance and hope."
The opening keynote address, on the morning of June 25, will be delivered by Lawrence Grossberg, a former Illinois professor, now the Morris Davis Distinguished Professor of Communication Studies and Cultural Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Three spotlight sessions in the afternoon of June 25 will deal with "Sport, Culture and Identity," "War, Media and Democracy," and "Africa in a Global World."
Registration is required to attend the conference, which features 142 sessions and more than 500 presenters. The registration deadline is June 18.
The Crossroads conference is the official conference of the Association for Cultural Studies, which had its beginnings and first conferences in Europe.
The association's choice of Illinois for this first U.S. conference, however, is "historically appropriate," said Denzin, a professor in the Institute of Communications Research, which is sponsoring the conference.
American cultural studies "really formed on this campus in the '80s and through the '90s," he said. The first international conference on cultural studies was held at Illinois in the early 1990s, and the volume produced from that conference has been "sort of the bible of cultural studies" for the last decade and a half.
Cultural studies is an interdisciplinary global movement that has developed during the last half-century, drawing principally from the social sciences and humanities, Denzin said. "The focus of cultural studies is always trying to locate analysis and discourse within the contemporary historical period," dealing with institutions and issues such as power, culture, the media, justice, equality, education, gender and race, he said.
That focus takes on particular importance "in the post-9-11 environment that we all inhabit," Denzin said. "The issues of freedom and violence and the relationship to the state have all become contested and problematic in ways that they weren't perhaps even a decade ago, or even before 9-11," he said.
"I want this conference to be an opportunity for this international group of scholars from a host of different nations and political orientations to come together and debate and talk about issues of justice and equity in a time of global uncertainty."