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Keynote Address

Dr. Cathrine Bublatzky, Heidelberg University

Not without dissent.
A transcultural snapshot of diasporic aesthetics and politics of the hijab in art photography, the museum space and public campaigns.

The hijab is much debated. In non-Muslim societies and countries of immigration in particular, the veil causes public and political controversies about its cultural role, be it as identifier for religious representation, for the oppression of women, or, in regard to a more recent trend, of Muslim female fashion and a form of feminist emancipation. Either way, the veil is seldom simply addressed as a garment that covers women’s hair; rather, it is regarded as a way of communicating claims of difference and sameness in the politics of belonging. Only recently, the exhibition Contemporary Muslim Fashions at the Museum für Angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt sparked heated controversies and protests in which various stakeholders were involved. Whereas some supported claims of female self-determination in deciding whether or not to wear the hijab, others saw the exhibition as a slap into the face for women worldwide who have no choice, and who suffer oppression, punishment and violence in part because of this.

In this talk, I approach the debate on the hijab from yet another perspective and with a strong focus on the idea that any debate on the hijab cannot happen outside certain cultural and transcultural contexts. The veil will also act as springboard for further questions, such as how it generates various forms of activism and social change in migration and diasporic contexts. How does a transcultural stance allow us to read it as “a sensual and performative medium through which diasporians enact their felt autonomy while laying claims to ‘ownership’ of the places and nations in which they settle” (Werbner and Fumanti 2013, 149)?




9:00 - 9:15   Welcome


9:15-10:00   Keynote Speech “Not Without Dissent”

         Dr. Cathrine Bublatzky


Moderator: Tayebe Naderabadi (Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)


10:00 - 11:00   Panel 1: Transcultural Public Spaces


  • The Museum as a Voice of Dissent: A Transcultural Study of Museum Activism

Radha Malkar, Heidelberg University


  • Transcultural Negotiation of Language Rights: Experience in the Ethnic Yi Area in China

Zhiyong Yang, Sichuan University / University Duisburg-Essen


Moderator: Sara Ibañez O’Donnell (Heidelberg University)


11:00 - 11:15  Coffee break


11:15 - 12:15   Panel 2: Expression / Representation of Identities


  • Speaking of Us: Borderlands, Soundscapes,and Ethnic Minorities in Chinese Cinema

Jiyu Zhang, Leiden University


  • Negotiating the Tibet Myth: The Tibetan Self-Representation in Western Cinema

Shangshang Wang, Heidelberg University


Moderator: Chang Liu  (Heidelberg University)


12:15 - 12:30  Coffee break


12:30 - 13:30   Panel 3: Activism in the Age of Digital Media


  • Gay Apps in India

Gourab Ghosh, Jawaharlal Nehru University


  • Images of Transgender in Pakistani TV Drama Series

Rubia Riaz Khawar, Punjab University College of Art and Design


Moderator: Mhairi Montgomery (Heidelberg University)


13:30- 14:30 Lunch


14:30-16:00    Panel 4: Linkage and Rupture: Between the Global and the Local

  • The Production, Reproduction and Contestation of Capitalistic Dynamics Within a Bolivian Guaraní Community

            Camilla De Ambroggi, University of Bologna


  • The Activism of the European New Generations

Veronica Pastorino, Freie Universität Berlin


  • Ethnic Conflict and Tensions of the Shona and Ndebele: Changing Hierarchies in a Postcolonial Diasporic Community

Mariah Nti Asare, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)


Moderator: Emily Tsui (Heidelberg University)


16:00-16:15    Coffee break


16:15-17:45    Panel 5: Fighting the State: Within and Beyond


  • Moving Bodies: Post-war Dance, Women, and Protest in Japan

Alice Baldock, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)


  • The Peasant and Collective Identity: A Study of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti of Assam, India

Indrani Talukdar, Jawaharlal Nehru University


  • Artists and Dissidents: A Case Study of the Pussy Riot Art Collective

            Ekaterina Kalugina, Heidelberg University


Moderator: Judhajit Sarkar (Heidelberg University)


18:00 - 19:00 Concluding remarks and discussion


Moderators: Sophie Bisping and Sharon Chi



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Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies
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