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CHASS Lightning Rod event and The Fifth Annual Research Symposium of the Ph.D. Program in Communication, Rhetoric, and Digital Media

Rethinking Globalization and the Question of Scale: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Humanities and Social Social Sciences

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  2. Submissions were due April 1, with brief bio and 250 word abstracts sent to James Mulholland (, Rebecca Walsh (, and Steve Wiley ( 

    How do people, capital, goods, material infrastructures, discourse, and power aggregate at, or operate across, different levels of attachment, from personal to local to national to transnational? How do assumptions about scale shape discussions of issues such as uneven development, imperialism and neoimperalism, and resistance movements? How might critical approaches to scale as well as forms of transnational comparison allow us to analyze the social production of scale without reproducing scale-as-usual—that is, without taking for granted the limiting, received categories of the local, the national, or the international? This international symposium will assemble an interdisciplinary gathering of leading scholars, as well as Research Triangle faculty and graduate students, to consider theoretical and methodological conceptualizations of scale important for understanding globalization.

    Communication scholars, cultural geographers, economists, sociologists, and historians, as well as scholars in literary studies and media studies, have taken up questions of scale in their research. This symposium will consider how the issue of scale cuts across disciplinary boundaries, and how the insights of one paradigm may illuminate the assumptions of another. The symposium will also explore possibilities for an interdisciplinary examination of scale in relation to current developments in the Humanities, including the relatively recent focus on transnational forms of comparison. Such an interdisciplinary discussion will help us rethink assumptions in transnational comparative methods (and in texts and artifacts that are themselves transnationally comparative) that might depend upon and resist scalar designations of the local, the national, and the transnational.

  3. The symposium will be organized around a series of plenary speakers from a variety of disciplines:

    Paul Adams
    Department of Geography and the Environment, U. Texas at Austin

    Neel Ahuja
    Department of English and Comparative Literature, UNC-Chapel Hill

    Rey Chow
    Program in Literature, Duke University

    Hsuan Hsu
    Department of English, UC Davis

    Alan Latham
    Department of Geography, University College London

    Saskia Sassen
    Department of Sociology, Columbia University

    Sarah Sharma
    Department of Communication Studies, UNC-Chapel Hill

    Kathleen Wilson
    Department of History, SUNY Stonybrook

    In addition to these featured presentations, we seek participants for roundtables on issues related to globalization and scale. Each roundtable will include 4-5 participants giving 5-7-minute presentations, followed by ample discussion. No written paper is required. Roundtable presentations may focus on the participant's scholarly work or on general questions and ideas about the topics of globalization and scale. Registration for this event is free.