CFP: Inner Empire? Centres, Peripheries and Regional Identities in British Art

A one-day workshop exploring the regional dynamic in British art, to be held in The Treehouse of the Berrick Saul Humanities Research Centre at the University of York, on Thursday, 5 November 2015.

The archipelago of islands on the western extremity of Eurasia, currently described as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, has been subject to intensive and continuously evolving processes of regional and ethnic inscription for at least two millennia. In recent decades, the teleological narrative in which regional fragmentation inevitably succeeded to a centralised British nation state has, yet again, been called into question by multiple political claims for regional autonomy—claims often based on imagined and contested notions of regional cultural exceptionalism.

The representation of geographic, ethnic and cultural regionalisms has itself constituted an important theme of British art, but is also often argued to be an implied presence in all visual representations of ‘Britain’ and ‘Britishness’. Meanwhile, influential recent histories of empire have emphasised the extent to which the restless negotiation of regional power within the United Kingdom has underpinned British interactions with other global cultures. This symposium seeks to understand more about the manifestations of regional identity in the art of the British Isles, by considering the extent to which postcolonial critical perspectives might provide appropriate models for understanding the art production of the archipelago, and how conventional models of centre and periphery (south-eastern and ‘English’ versus northern, western and ‘other’) might be complicated by recent scholarship around the evolution of cultural identities within Britain’s overseas empire.

The British Art Research School invites short position papers or provocations (no longer than 15 minutes) by researchers of all levels whose interests are connected with any period of British Art.

Subjects may include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Antiquarianism and regionalism
  • The imagery of regional self-definition and the role of visual culture in the making of communities
  • Revivals and recursions of ‘regional’ visual form
  • Iconoclasms and the proscription or censorship of regional material culture
  • The visual representation of regionalism within cosmopolitanism and diaspora
  • Gender and sexuality in the regional context
  • The visual representation of regional diversities and/or equalities
  • Global economic systems and regional identities in the British Isles
  • The melancholia of post-imperial regionalism
  • Regionalism in British popular culture and media

Participants are invited to submit short abstracts of no more than 200 words to

The deadline for submissions is 21st October 2015.

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