From the BSA conference: letters, diaries, travelling theory

From the BSA conference: letters, diaries, travelling theory

We were at the BSA annual conference 10-12 April in Newcastle, partly to hang out, partly to see who is who and what is what, partly to give papers, Emilia on the complications in some Forbes diary entries regarding what we now call race and ethnicity, and Liz on South African letters and the racialising process. It barely got light in three days. The sky was dark grey, the air was mid grey, the rain was very wet and grey. Thank goodness things were more cheerful inside the conference building! Our papers were in a session with two other papers also using the ideas of Norbert Elias, and unusually all four papers fitted together really rather well. The other papers were concerned with community and with violence and implicitly addressed the European context. Our two papers were different in that they were concerned with whether and to what extent Elias’s ideas travel in the sense of whether they can be modified, expanded and generally re-shaped to address the events and circumstances of other parts of the world and specifically South Africa. The most exciting thing is that out of a question we were asked about the relationship between diaries and letters concerning gossip, we have decided to offer a joint paper at the forthcoming Norbert Elias conference in Brussels in December. We are planning to look at different takes on the world as inscribed in Forbes letters and Forbes diaries from two periods of time 40 or 50 years apart, probably the late 1860s as compared with early 70s and 1907 to 1909. However, gossip won’t be the focus, but rather what is for WWW the more central matter of classification and how people and behaviour are represented regarding what is now called race and ethnicity. And we also hope to do short podcasts of each of our BSA papers, so watch this space.

Last updated:  12 April 2018


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