College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

THE DM: Students Lead Conference on Identity, Individuality

April 8, 2015 | by Drew Jansen
Courtesy of The Daily Mississippian

38944-CICCE-identity-conference-poster-sm-194x300The university is hosting an interdisciplinary, student-led academic conference on identity Thursday, April 9 in the Union Ballroom. The conference, titled “Identity Across the Curriculum,” will feature presentations by graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State University, as well as a keynote faculty panel. The event begins at 8 a.m. and continues until 3 p.m.

Senior English and sociology double major Matthew Fernandez founded the conference with the support of the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement.

Fernandez explained that his motivation for organizing the event came from a perceived lack of opportunities for students to present various works, particularly those dealing with minority students and cultural identity issues.

“I wanted to create a space where identity could be explored in multiplicity from varying theoretical and creative perspectives,” Fernandez said.

The conference schedule and a registration form are available at the Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement website. Registration is recommended but not required.

“This conference is essential to our university,” said April Fuller, senior English major and student committee organizer for the conference. “With so much bad publicity the university has gotten over the years in regards to race, religion, gender, etc., I think it’s important for us to realize that we are all individuals and our surroundings have a great impact upon us.”

The conference’s presentations are divided into four sessions, each containing three presentations and overseen by a separate moderator. The keynote panel, titled “Revealing Affect and Agency in the Academy,” includes faculty members from the departments of English, history, African American Studies and sociology and anthropology.

Topics for student presentations include social media, identity in conflict and identity in creative writing. Sophomore sociology and African American studies major Dominique Scott is leading a workshop within the discussion on identity in conflict titled “Collective Liberation: The Intersections of Privilege and Oppression.”

“Collective liberation is the idea that we all have unique oppressions that are associated with our real or perceived identities. In order for us to progress as a unified body, we must recognize and respect these unique struggles and make our spaces open to marginalized people,” Scott said.

Fuller explained the importance of work like Scott’s.

“This conference enforces something that I think many people have forgotten: individuality is subjective,” Fuller said. “People will have different opinions, but we can still come together as a university to discuss identity from an academic and cultural standpoint, despite our differences.”