PEN Conference

PEN, Postcolonial Europe Network

(Funded by NWO)

Second annual conference

Utrecht, 18-19 April 2013

In collaboration with:

Postcolonial Studies Initiative (PCI);

Centre for the Humanities (CfH); Graduate Gender Programme (GGeP);



Convener: Sandra Ponzanesi

This conference focuses on the relevance of postcolonial theories for the understanding of world-systemic transformations and the shifts in geopolitics in terms of conflict, transitional justice and cosmopolitanism. New crises such as conflicts, terrorism, trafficking, and human rights violation go beyond the boundaries of the nation state and European frontiers and require new analytical tools for the understanding of these rapid transformations.

By investigating culture with the innovative, interdisciplinary and transcultural tools of postcolonial critique Europe emerges as a complex space, which is often imagined and oblivious of its politics of inclusion and exclusion towards migrants, asylum seekers and refugees, as well as of its take on internal conflicts, political transitions and cosmopolitan imaginary. In order to tackle the new crises that plague Europe and beyond, this conference will bring together the complementary and synergizing expertise of postcolonial scholars who work across different disciplinary fields such as conflict studies, law, ethics, memory studies, human rights and international relations as well as the arts, visual culture, music and digital platforms. The goal is to inform a new wave of young scholars and academics on how to assess the emergencies and transitions of the present through an ability to acknowledge the working of the past and rethink Europe as a new possible cosmopolitan space.

The conference will focus on conflict, transitional justice and cosmopolitanism examining the narrative that walks the line between, before and after, memory and truth, compensation and reconciliation, justice and peace. Some of the participants will examine communities ravaged by colonialism and the harm that colonial and postcolonial economic and social disparities cause. The comparative and interdisciplinary exchanges will generate a better understanding of difficult pasts to present communities, questioning the many possible trajectories from disruption to truth, reconciliation and healing, with particular focus on Europe.


Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Gurminder K. Bhambra:

Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism in an Austere Europe

(Warwick University, UK):

Rosemarie Buikema:

Transitional Justice, Dialogical Truth and the Arts

(Utrecht University, NL)

John Hocking

Title to be announced

(Assistant Secretary-General, Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals)

Neil Lazarus

Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature

(Warwick University, UK)

Bruce Robbins

Cosmopolitanism in Deep Time

(Columbia University, USA)

Robert Young

Late Postcolonialism

(New York University, USA)




Preliminary Programme

Location: Academic Building (Kanunnikenzaal)

Domplein 29, access also from Achter de Dom, 7.


Day 1

9.00-9.30        Coffee 

9.30-9.45        Opening

Sandra Ponzanesi (Utrecht University, NL)

Postcolonial Transitions in Europe

9.45-10.45      Keynote 1

Bruce Robbins (Columbia University, USA)

Cosmopolitanism in Deep Time 

10.45-12.00    Pannel 1

Chair: Graham Huggan

Paulo de Medeiros (Utrecht University, NL)

Postimperial Nostalgia

Lars Jensen (Roskilde University, Denmark)

A Greenlandic Cosmopolitanism for an Emerging Postcolonial Moment

Max Silverman (University of Leeds, UK)

The Palimpsest and Cosmopolitical Memory

12.00-13.15    Pannel 2

Chair: John McLeod

Sabrina Marchetti (European University Institute, Italy)

The Colonial Legacy in the Memories of Migrant Women: Eritrean and Afro-Surinamese Domestic and Care Workers in Postcolonial Europe

Koen Leurs (Utrecht University, NL)

Technology as a Refuge? Opportunities and Constrains in Migrant’s Use of Digital Media.

Jess Bier (University of Maastricht, NL)

The Colonizer in the Computer: The British and Israeli Influence in Palestinian Authority Cartography

13.15-14.00       Lunch break

14.00-15.00    Keynote 2

Neil Lazarus (Warwick University)

Combined and Uneven Development: Towards a New Theory of World-Literature

15.10-16.15    Pannel 3

Chair: Paulo de Medeiros

John McLeod (University of Leeds, UK)

Transculturation and Adoptive Being

Dirk Göttsche  (University of Nottingham, UK)

Cosmopolitanism, Emplacement and Identity in Recent Postcolonial Literature in German

Birgit Kaiser (Utrecht University, NL)

The Subject of Transnational Literature: Diffraction in the Mirror in E.S Özdamar’s ‘Der Hof im Spiegel’

16.15-16.30    Coffee Break

16.30-17.30    Keynote 3

Robert Young (New York University)

Title: Late Postcolonialism

18.00- 19.00   Drinks

Location: Academic Building (Kanunnikenzaal)

Domplein 29, access also from Achter de Dom, 7.



Day 2

9.00-9.30        Coffee

9.30-10.30      Keynote 4

John Hocking (Assistant Secretary-General, Registrar of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals)

Title: to be announced

10.30-12.15    Pannel 4

Chair: Max Silverman

Jolle Demmers (Utrecht University, NL)

Neoliberal Discourses on Violence: Monstrosity and Rape in Borderland War

Julia Suárez-Krabbe ((Roskilde University, Denmark)

Decolonising Human Rights and Democracy. Thinking Through History and the Nation from Andalucía.

Kristín Loftsdóttir (University of Iceland, Iceland)

International Development, Colonial Memory and Belonging

Emmanuelle Radar (Utrecht University, NL)

Europe and Cambodia; Postcolonial and Post Khmer Rouge Transitions in Rithy Panh’s Work.

12.15-13.15    Keynote 4

Rosemarie Buikema (Utrecht University, NL)

Transitional Justice, Dialogical Truth and the Arts

 13.15-14.00       Lunch break

 14.00-15.00    Keynote 6

Gurminder K. Bhambra (Warwick University, UK):

Postcolonial Cosmopolitanism in an Austere Europe

15.00-16.15    Pannel 5

Chair: Lars Jensen

Lene Bull Christiansen  (Roskilde University, Denmark)

Public Intellectuals and Affective Icons: The Afropolitanism of Danish Aid Celebrities

Sara Fekadu (University of Munich, Germany)

Re-Mapping Uneven Geographies: Globalized Labour, Neo-Imperialism and the Body in the Cinematic Art of Steve McQueen

Brigitte Hipfl (University of Klagenfurt, Austria)

‘Little Alien’ and ‘Darkhead’: Austrian Migrant Documentary Films 

16.15-17.30    Panel 6

Chair: Kristín Loftsdóttir

Gianmaria Colpani (Utrecht University, NL)

The Sexual Fortress’: Sexual Nationalisms and the European Assemblage.

Peter Maurits (Munich University, Germany)

From Member to Migrant: On the Future of the European Union’s Exclusion Policy

Emanuelle Santos (Utrecht University, NL)

Postcolonial Thought on the Postcolony: the Same European Dance with its Other?

17.30-17.45    Closing Remarks


The conference is free of charge, but for registration and information please mail: 

Postcolonial Europe Network PEN is funded by NWO (Dutch National Endowment for the Humanities). 

The project, conducted by Sandra Ponzanesi and Paulo de Medeiros (Utrecht University, the Netherlands) in collaboration with European partners, aims to establish an international platform for developing research into new forms of conceptualizing Europe from a multidisciplinary perspective engaging several disciplines (literary, media, gender studies) in the Humanities and the Social Sciences (sociology, political theory). PEN aspires to develop theoretical and methodological tools for representing and imagining Europe in a postcolonial and postimperial perspective.

PEN International partners are:

Utrecht University, University of Leeds, University of Munich, London School of Economics, University of Naples, University of Roskilde and University of Iceland.

Link to the PEN website:


The PEN conference is organized back to back with the

Edward Said Memorial Conference

“In Time of Not Yet”

April 15-17, 2013