Congreso Internacional en Colonia, Alemania, 12 al 14 de septiembre de 2011

Ethnicity, Citizenship and Belonging

Interdependencies of social categorizations

2. International Symposium of the Research Network for Latin America

University of Cologne, 12. – 14.09.2011

The Research Network for Latin America is a cooperation of historical, ethnological and sociologica

l institutes of the German Universities of Cologne, Bielefeld and Bonn and two individual scientists from Minster and Hanover. Within an interdisciplinary framework, scientists of the humanities and social sciences investigate the concepts Ethnicity, Citizenship and Belonging to enhance the scientific understanding of quotidian economic, political and social exclusions and inequalities in Latin America. Ethnicity, Citizenship and Belonging are being understood as dynamic concepts that help to understand and to analyse the contextual and historically specific manifestations of boundaries and perceptions of order in Latin America.

Belonging, Citizenship and the interdependencies of social categorizations (not only) in Latin America – past and present
Ethnicity is one of the categories by which belonging is organized (not only) in Latin America. However, this is not the only form that matters in everyday life and through which social inequalities and exclusions are scientifically describable. In addition to class positions distinctions based on sex, religion, age, regional origin (urban/rural), “race” in the strict sense of the term, and not at least legal exclusion by nationality can be mentioned among others. In the social reality, these categories are, however, not strictly separated. This can be easily illustrated by the example of ethnicity, because ethnicity is always thought of as an interdependent categorization: the assignment of individuals to ethnic groups is influenced among other factors by the geographical or gendered localization and can change in the course of their economic activities. Another example of interdependent categorizations is the gendering of the formal legal status:  in many nation states women were excluded from the collective of citizens by marrying a foreigner, until the norm of the citizen changed from a male to a formally gender-neutral subject.

We refer to this complex interweaving of social categorizations as interdependency: on no account do we suppose a simple causal dependence of one category from any other. Rather these social categorizations are processes that mutually influence each other. The term «categorization» we employ stresses its procedural character: it is not about essentialistic descriptions nor of unalterable identities, but these markers of belonging and difference emerge in interactions, must be interpreted by the actors and are variable.

Call for Papers: Interdependencies of social categorizations (not only) in Latin America
The Research Network for Latin America is dealing with the key concepts Ethnicity, Citizenship and Belonging in three working groups which address them from three different angles. Within this framework it is the Cologne subproject that explores the interdependence of social categorizations, one of which is ethnicity (see Project C under This subproject, in cooperation with the administration office, also organizes the planned September 2011 conference, which will examine the interrelations of social categorizations and their everyday consequences. Furthermore it is to explore whether and how the concepts Citizenship and Belonging can help to analyse these complex in- and exclusions.

On this topic, we invite you to submit papers for presentations. The speeches of no more than 30 minutes are to be given in English. After each presentation there will be a discussion of a further 30 minutes. We especially welcome contributions related to (current) empirical investigations not only in Latin America. They should refer to on one or more of the following questions:

·    How do social categorizations interrelate, how do they mutually “constitute” each other?
·    What reinforcements, ruptures or modifications of these categorizations happen in this process?
·    To what extent do problems or contradictions arise from a scientific analysis that actually perceives the examined categorizations as interdependent?
·    How are (old, new or renewed) criteria of differentiation and membership legally and discursively created or strengthened by means of the state or the elites?
·    How do various social groups or movements reject, affirm, appropriate or transform these criteria?
·    To what extent are the symbolic representations of these categorizations “interdependent” configurations?
·    Can these negotiations be captured with the concepts of Citizenship or Belonging?

Please send an English abstract of your proposed presentation of 500-1,000 words until 31st of January 2011 to nadine.alff-pereira @
For the speakers accommodation in Cologne will be arranged, but travel expenses can not be covered by the network.

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