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CLR James


C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary 

50th Anniversary Conference 
University of Glasgow. 
Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May, 2013.

Regularly cited as one of the great sports books of the twentieth century, C.L.R. James’ Beyond a Boundary (1963) is, by his own famous definition, about far more than cricket. Developing a concern to understand sport as part of a much wider social and political context (a concern first articulated in his earlier writings for the Glasgow Herald), James’ study is part-autobiography, part-historical study and part-political-call-to-arms written against the backdrop of the decolonisation struggles. His reflections thus reach out into a critical account of racism and imperialism, into wider questions of aesthetics and popular culture, and into the struggle for revolutionary social change which was the enduring concern of his life. Crucially, James insisted that such questions were not simply of concern to academics or to experts, but were also a central part of what drew ordinary men and women to sport. 
Much loved, and widely read, James’ study has also been the subject of searching criticism: he has been accused, among other things, of a failure of critical judgement in relation to cricket’s role in the moral framework of empire, of a lack of attentiveness to gendered inequalities, and of a naïve faith in the spontaneity of popular political resistance. 
This conference is convened on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the publication of Beyond a Boundary, with the intention of both celebrating and questioning, drawing out the book’s intellectual legacies and identifying the issues it leaves unanswered. We would welcome original papers dealing with any aspects of Beyond a Boundary. These might include:
– critical engagement with or reinterpretation of James’ arguments; 
– studies of the production and reception of the book itself;
– interpretations, via James, of contemporary sport;
– reflections on the transnational responses to James’ text;
– discussion of Beyond a Boundary within James’ wider corpus and in relation to his political practice;
– papers reporting on the use of James’ insights and methods in social research, in teaching, in journalism or in political activism.
Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to Andy Smith: In keeping with James’ own practice, we would ask potential speakers to avoid unnecessary technical jargon, and to prepare papers intended for a general audience. 
Abstracts should be submitted by the end of October, 2012.
Already confirmed keynote speakers for the conference are Mike Brearley (former England Test captain and previously President of the British Psychoanalytic Society), and Wai Chee Dimock (Department of English, Yale) and Robert A. Hill (History, UCLA and C.L.R. James’ Literary Executor). We expect also to have contributions from Selwyn Cudjoe, Selma James and Mike Dibb.

Further keynotes to be announced; to be added to the conference mailing list, please e-mail the address given above. 


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