Conference – Diversity and Difference: Studies in Subjecitivation

Thursday 28 – Saturday 30 September 2023, Kiel University, Germany


“Diversity” as a rallying buzzword crops up today in greatly varying contexts: to describe relations within societies, as a part of government programs and political manifestos, or as everyday practice in organizations. Referring to diversity is often intended to communicate a certain “openness” to categories of difference. Diverse actors positively reevaluate difference and distinctiveness, in processes where market interests and neoliberal programs also play crucial roles.

Diversity characterizes societies of the present. Some fight using the slogans “We’ll come united”, “Leave no one behind,” “Black lives matter”, and “Trans rights”. Others, however, experience diversity as a loss of control, which they counter with defense mechanisms, including an “us” versus “them” mindset.

Accordingly, demands for inclusion and integration are often interwoven with diffuse fears of “new identities” (Hall 1991), for example of refugees and migrants, but also of queer persons and queer ways of life. In turn, demarcation struggles and identitarian divisions within social groups can arise from emphasizing difference, and can lead to “positional fundamentalism” (Villa-Braslavsky 2020).

The conference “Diversity and Difference – Studies in Subjectivation“ selects these points of departure to enquire about subjectivation, i.e., about processes of socialization and of “becoming a subject”. “Being a subject” requires a confrontation between “self” and “world”, a relation that is constituted from materialities and organizations, sensualities and discourses, collectivizations and individualizations. They flag up the fact that subjects are in themselves incomplete, non-uniform and fragile — and yet remain subject to demands for authenticity, coherence, and continuity.

Subjectivation research in this context can be understood as an analysis of society (Bosančić et al. 2022), with primacy given to questions of being governed, questions of power relations and exclusion mechanisms, questions of resistance, subversion and agency, and questions of participation and recognition. Within the context of diversity and difference, these foci raise perspectives regarding social inequalities, intersectional interweavings, privileges and disadvantages, discrimination and racism.

The conference “Diversity and Difference — Studies in Subjectivation” uses subjectivation research’s theoretical vocabulary and empirical approaches to investigate diversity and difference. How can perspectives on subjects and subjectivation, biographies and discourses, articulations and re-articulations, positionings and re-positionings become fruitful for critical social analysis in the context of diversity and difference?

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This event will be held at Kiel University, Christian-Albrechts-Platz 4, 24118 Kiel, Germany

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