Hyphenated Identities / Discourses, Questions, and Polemics

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HYPHENATED IDENTITIES /
DISCOURSES, QUESTIONS, AND POLEMICS conference

Please join the Transregional Center for Democratic Studies and the Memory Studies Group at the New
School for Social Research, the East Central European Center of Columbia University, and the Yiddish
Studies Program, and Polish Studies at Columbia University, for a conference on hyphenated identities.

Our inspiration was Horace M. Kallen, Jewish-American philosopher and one of the founders of the
New School. As a proponent of cultural pluralism, in his 1915 essay “Democracy Versus the Melting
Pot”, he resoundingly espoused the concept of hyphenated identities: “a chorus of many voices each
singing a rather different tune.”

A century later, the number of “hyphens,” or multiple identities one embraces, continues to grow
worldwide. Today, academic engagement with identity runs into ongoing real-world negotiations of
self and community: throughout ethnic conflicts, migrations, and political transformations; in wartime
landscapes, and even in stable democracies. Are these hyphenated identities affirmative or limiting?
What happens when one’s identities are in conflict? What are the key discourses — political, cultural,
artistic — that are informed by hyphenated identities? How do minorities negotiate their shifting identities?

The conference will explore the debates on hybrid and complex identities, examining the meanings
that the hyphenated identity carries today within established democracies as well as within those that
have emerged in countries undergoing political transformations.

December 4, 2015, 8.30am-6pm
The New School for Social Research
Orozco Room, A 712, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall, 66 West 12th Street, New York




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