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20.11.2021 12:35 Alter: 2 yrs

On Hinterlands and Homelands

Call for Papers

Theme: On Hinterlands and Homelands
Type: Multidisciplinary Conference
Institution: Higher Institute of Applied Languages and Computer
Science of Beja (ISLAIB), University of Jendouba
Location: Hammamet (Tunisia)
Date: 3.–5.3.2022
Deadline: 15.12.2021

“Have not all races had their first unity from a mythology that
marries them to rock and hill?” Yeats wonders rhetorically. The idea
of the homeland is organically enmeshed in notions of territoriality
and geography. The hinterland is most often seen as its configuration
as well as figuration in literature. It is so because it represents
an ideal sense of national identity, unity, and even “purity” in
extreme nationalist ideologies. It is considered an ideal space
insofar as it is imagined as a utopian place, a locus amoenus, where
an unsullied form of national character is preserved in its local
traditions, dialects, myths and legends. It is a pastoral world that
death cannot visit. But Nicolas Poussin deconstructs such a utopian
view in his famous painting: Et in Arcadia ego. The pastoral
landscape is also strewn with crania.

Since Theocritus rurality has been associated with nostalgia for the
homeland. Hinterland and homeland are synonymised. The English
“country,” indeed, encodes this conflation. In nationalist
imagination, the “death” of the homeland is almost always associated
with colonisation or modernisation, if not both. Colonisers come as
modernisers. And modernisers are either straightforward colonialists
or imperialists in disguise. In this ideology, hinterlands are seen
as resilient spaces, resistant geographies, and sacred places. The
idea of the homeland is steeped in this politics of sanitisation of
rural space, of hinterlands that lie beyond the pale. In its squalid
architectures, social fragmentations, and economic fragilities, the
city is always depicted as a perfect embodiment of modernity and its
ills and evils. Colonialism and modernity are lumped together in
nationalism. Yet such a conflation does not always do justice to
modernity and its ethos.

The city is often portrayed as a fallen space, a wound, a disease
corrupting the national body. Language and literature are fraught
with allegories of sanitisation and Satanisation of space—rural and
urban. Yet the dichotomy between the country and the city, the
hinterland and the metropolis, is not always as Manichean as it
looks. The city has its lights and delights, its buzzes and noises,
domes and towers, streets and excitements. It is the throbbing heart
of civilisation. It is a hub of cultural and aesthetic production. It
is as inspiring as nature. Wordsworth, a worshiper of hinterlands,
finds himself in subliminal awe one morning in front of a London
view: “Dull would he be of soul who could pass by / A sight so
touching in its majesty.” Cities are centres of civilisation and
civility. The city has its own miracles that the hinterland does not

We seek to rethink all these rigid dichotomies. The homeland, for
instance, is an imaginary configuration in Salman Rushdie. For Renan,
it takes form in the mind. It is a historical construct. A homeland
is also a land of internecine strife and wars. It is far from being
the rosy picture painted by nationalist literature. Likewise,
hinterlands are not always symbolic of autonomy and tranquility. The
countryside can be a place of social turmoil, economic crises, and
agrarian disasters. Famines, destitution, diseases, and economic
crises strike cities and hinterlands alike with similar
disastrousness. Economic and ecological disasters more often than not
disturb the customary quietude of hinterlands, and throws scores of
people on the roads of exodus and migration. Rural and urban spaces
are ridden by ambiguities and paradoxes. They defeat facile
categorisation. They are, as Raymond Williams argues in The Country
and the City, “structures of feeling,” telling more about us than
them as loci, or, better still, more about them as loci, as spatial
metaphors and allegories that mirror our perceptions, thoughts,
negotiations, and configurations of the world around us, as well as
of our being in the world (Dasein). The external space is nothing
other than a reflection of our internal anxieties, and perhaps our
felicities as well.

These geographical configurations can be seen as figurations of our
psychic realities. If the city represents the superego, then the
hinterland is structured like a dream-work, in the Freudian sense. It
is not so much the other space as it is the place allowing the ego to
escape the tensions of repression. In Shakespeare, the woods are loci
of love and reconciliation. But they are “dark and deep” in Frost.
Romanticism overvalues hinterlands for their symbolic meaning. If
civilisation is built on repression, as Freud asserts, then nature is
a perfect place for catharsis. Where the city is the place of
sublimation, nature is then the locus of the sublime and beautiful.
Yet such a categorisation, as we have suggested earlier, is not
always workable, insofar as the city can also be a place of powerful
sublime and sublimation experiences, unfound in the hinterland.

“On Hinterlands and Homelands” Conference invites multidisciplinary
papers on these themes.

Papers should address, but not exclusively, the following issues:

- Nature versus Culture
- The country and the city
- Modernity and modernisation
- Myths of belonging, myths of homecoming
- Metropolis and colonial geographies
- Physical landscapes versus literary landscapes
- Imagined communities, Imaginary homelands
- Utopia versus dystopia
- Identities and social and political realities
- Nationalism and internationalism
- Universalism versus localism
- The glocal in global reality
- Allegories of landscapes and cityscapes
- The real and the imaginary
- Poetics and politics of the hinterland
- Industrial decentralisation
- Exile, exodus and migration
- Lands beyond and beyond lands
- Memory and nostalgia
- Homes and homelands
- The homely and the uncanny (Unheimlich)
- Eco-critical nature
- Environment and sustainable development
- Urbanisation of the country and ruralisation of the city
- Identity and language learning
- Stigmatization in language use
- The centripetal and the centrifugal in discourse
- Ethnolinguistic vitality

Important Dates:

Abstract Submission Deadline:
December 15, 2021

Notification of Acceptance:
January 10, 2022

Please send an abstract (no more than 250 words) to this email:

Please specify:
(1) Title of paper,
(2) Name of author(s),
(3) Affiliation of author(s),
(4) Key words,
(5) E-mail address.

The submission of full papers for publication will be announced
shortly after the conference.


Dr. Mahassen Mgadmi
Higher Institute of Applied Languages and Computer Science of Beja
University of Jendouba