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Dean Hopper Conference: “Modes of Belonging: Kinship, Exile, and Translation”

March 24 @ 9:00 am - 6:00 pm

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10th Annual Dean Hopper Conference
“Modes of Belonging: Kinship, Exile, and Translation”

March 24, 2023

In a time of constant fatigue and anxiety caused by economic, political, and climatic catastrophic events, we are faced by dilemmas that are at their core about belonging. Take, for instance, the current focus on Ukrainian refugees and how they have been received differently than Syrian refugees. While in the latter case, we are told of a “refugee crisis,” the former is perceived as a duty Europe owes to Ukrainians because they are Europeans. In other words, Ukrainians “belong” in Europe.The present moment, therefore, calls for a historization and reimagination of major concepts in our debates about belonging. 

To complicate this concept, we turn to interdisciplinary work that employs ideas of translation, kinship, exile, and diaspora to expose the elasticity of “belonging.” For instance, we ask what understandings of belonging have contributed to the hostile discourse we witness regarding immigration? How might politicians have shaped this discourse? Some scholars, such as Keguro Macharia, have named how political leaders rely on biological kinship and other “genealogical models to generate social and cultural legibility,” to gird up national collective identity and sympathies. Yet, in doing so, they often perniciously privilege “reproductive heteronormativity” at the expense of other forms of belonging or relationality. 

We may also think of exile and diaspora as an alternative site that complicates our theorizing of belonging. In Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Edward Said writes, “Exile is … the unbearable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.” One interpretation of this statement might suggest that Said is reinforcing an idea that one only belongs to their place of birth or their “native place.” What might be a way to think about exile beyond this notion of “insurmountable uprootedness”? Following Mary Jacobus, we consider whether belonging must be intimately bound up with a notion of a past home. Her use of “translation” as a mode of analysis highlights how, far from simply being an instance of moving “from one language to another,” translation is also moving “from one place to another–translocation.” Translation enables the experience of “becoming foreign” that gestures toward a cosmopolitan vision of a world without borders. Thus, rather than exploring a melancholic return to the past home, what might be produced when we take, as Nadia Ellis suggests, an utopian diasporic horizon as our imaginary for belonging? 

The 10th annual Dean Hopper Conference of Spring 2023 will examine these and related questions, seeking interdisciplinary engagements with the notion of “belonging” in cultural, historical, political, and theoretical contexts.

Tentative Conference Schedule

All times are indicated in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT)

9:00 – 9:05 AM Welcome/Opening Remarks

9:05 – 10:05 AM Panel 1: “Methodologies of Intimate Histories”

  • Yayuk Windarti 
  • Ojo Joseph Rapheal 
  • Tritha Abdelaziz

10:05 – 10:10 AM Break

10:10 – 11:10 AM Panel 2: “Home and Border Crossing”

  • Neha Meena 
  • Domagoj Krpan 
  • Aleksander Berezkin

11:10 – 11:15 AM Break

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM Panel 3: “Authenticity and (Self)Identity”

  • Tianyi Bai 
  • Nouzha Baba
  • Hamza Radid

12:15 – 1:00 PM Break/Lunch

1:00 – 2:00 PM Keynote Speaker: Dr. Eli Rosenblatt

2:00 – 2:10 PM Break

2:10 – 3:10 PM Panel 4: “Conflictive Belonging”

  • Leslie Potashner
  • Evren Altinkas
  • Patrick Mahoney

3:10 – 3:15 PM Break

3:15 – 4:30 PM Panel 5: “Politics of Citizenship and National Unity”

  • David Balosa
  • Dorcas Dennis
  • Rajesh C. Shukla 
  • Chayyim Holtkamp

4:30 – 4:35 PM Break


4:35 – 6:00 PM Panel 6: “Training and Formation for Non-Christian Religious Leaders at Historically Christian Educational Institutions: Perspectives on Belonging and Translation”

  • Rabbi Joel N. Abraham
  • Hisham Qureshi
  • Viraj Patel 
  • Chris Paige 
  • Rev. Dr. Soren M. Hessler 

6:00 – 6:05 PM Closing Remarks

Register Today!

Dean Hopper Conference: “Modes of Belonging: Kinship, Exile, and Translation”


March 24
9:00 am - 6:00 pm
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