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Reimagining Family, Race and Nation: belongings, contradictions, and possibilities

August 28, 2019 - August 30, 2019

Call for Papers for session at the Royal Geographical Society with Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) Conference, London

Family – as both rhetoric and personal relationship – has long been a preoccupation of national and racial projects. Think of ‘motherland’ and ‘fatherland’, or the policing of inter-marriage in colonial race-building enterprises (Stoler, 2002) and in the wake of ‘ethnicized’ conflicts (Morokvasic-Müller 2004). Both ‘family’ and ‘home’ have protective, welcoming connotations but like the nation, can also be places of fear and exploitation (Barrett and McIntosh, 1982; Ahmed et al 2003). Yet both family structures and delineations of nation and race are constantly unfinished and re-invented.

We invite papers exploring: (1) public tropes of national and racial belonging imagined as naturalised family relations and (2) how projects of race, nation, and borders play out in intimate family settings, as a means of re-imagining the closures and possibilities of family, race, and nation without neglecting questions of power and history.

How does ‘family’ create opportunities for belonging and solidarity, and how does it close them down? How far are nation- and race-building projects dependent on the patriarchal nuclear family of Western modernity, and what other resources can be used to upturn their certainties? Do queer family practices open spaces for disrupting exclusions of race and nation, or do they reproduce the closures of hetero-normative family conventions? Could a feminist ethics of care reimagine the family-as-nation? How are positions on ‘race’ and belonging disrupted or reinforced by changing family relationships? Are there resources for hope and solidarity in the trope or experience of family that can transcend race and border politics, or is this a dead end?

Papers may consider, but are not limited to, the following subjects:

  • Divisions of families across re-drawn borders
  • Inter-generational conversations and memories
  • Intimate family responses to Brexit
  • Diasporic connections and re-connections
  • Mixed heritage identities and contestations
  • Chosen and non-normative family practices

Please send your expression of interest including title, abstract of up to 250 words, and your name and institutional affiliation to the session Convenors: Dr Špela Drnovšek Zorko, University of Warwick (s.drnovsek-zorko@warwick.ac.uk) and Dr Hannah Jones, University of Warwick (h.jones.1@warwick.ac.uk) by 1st February 2019 at the latest.


August 28, 2019
August 30, 2019


Dr Špela Drnovšek Zorko, University of Warwick
Dr Hannah Jones, University of Warwick


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