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The Subaltern-Popular Conference 2: Re-Visioning Analytic Frames
October 21-22, 2005)

The Subaltern- Popular Conference 1(March 8-9, 2004)




The Subaltern and the Popular 2:
Re-Visioning Analytic Frames

October 21 & 22, 2005
University of California, Santa Barbara

Conference Program



The objective of the 2-day symposium is to continue the dialogue initiated by a symposium at UCSB during March 2004. We began with the proposition that the precise relation between the subaltern and the popular remains untheorized. Often, no analytic distinction is made between the two terms: phrases such as "history of the people" and "politics of the people" are used indiscriminately and interchangeably with "history of the subaltern classes," all presumably identified by their resistance to or difference from "elite" politics, culture and history.

Retaining our focus to the "subaltern" and the "popular" as subjects and modes of inquiry into culture and politics, we turn to some specific theoretical and evidentiary issues connected to the role of visual culture and popular cultural forms in constituting the relation between the subaltern and the popular. These include a close rethinking of the Gramscian assumption that the subaltern lacks access to modes of representation, considering indigenous modes of knowledge and practice, as well as the mass availability of audio-visual technologies and communication networks. These are some of the questions we invite the participants to address:

  • Under what conditions do the subaltern and the popular cross paths, collude, conflict? What ensues from these engagements?
  • What are the sites of these engagements? To what degree has mass media permeated the subaltern as a cultural entity?
  • What are the roles of popular cultural forms, such as popular art, film and music, in addressing and configuring the subaltern?
  • What are the difficulties of configuring and analyzing the subaltern through liberal political philosophy and constructs of the state?
  • What is gained from retaining the notions of community and the state as ideal abstracts in imagining the political?
  • Are there forms of community among subaltern groups that elude our analytic gaze? Are there forms of political praxis that engage a radically different notion of community?
  • What changes in our conceptual and methodological approach must we undertake in order to “learn to learn from the subaltern?” What possible changes do we expect this to bring about in our imaginations of culture, politics, community, and theory?
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