FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & the Arts

Welcome to the website of FORUM, a peer-reviewed journal for postgraduate students working in culture and the arts. Our objective is to create and foster a network for the exchange and circulation of ideas; we hope that you will find plenty of interest and inspiration among the articles we have published to date.

CfP: FORUM Issue 22, Ideological Conflict

© CC BY 2.0

Armed conflict has ravaged Syria for over four years. The initial protest against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has escalated to a civil war that has drawn intercession from major world powers, arguably exacerbating the situation, and maintaining the issue of ideological conflict at the forefront of popular culture and media.  After the recent attacks in Beirut, Paris, and Bagdad, discussion has centred particularly on Islamophobia and the increasingly perceived dichotomy between Islamic and Western political systems.  After Francis Fukuyama famously declared the end of the great ideological battles, Issue 22 of FORUM looks to explore instead Jasmine Gani’s suggestion that we should be “bringing back ideas,” when analysing this new era of entrenched conflict.  

We might define ideological conflict as the mental, verbal or physical manifestation of dissension between two cultures with different sets of beliefs.  Such cultural hostility might be characterised by xenophobia, ‘otherness’, or racial prejudice, all of which are saturated with the violent historical precedent which helped construct them. What light can be shed on today’s hostilities by the analysis of past example?  

Conflicts can be between political systems, economic systems, religions, races, and even social philosophies, however, it doesn’t always occur on a grand scale - at a state or global level. The notion of private ideology also brings with it an internal conflict between personal belief and societal hegemony, raising questions about how an individual contends with this, imaginatively or pragmatically.

Chiefly, the violence that results from ideological conflict has been analysed using a rhetoric of ‘terror’ and ‘persecution’, yet the value of terms like these is clearly limited. How do we go about differentiating between nationalistic and religious components of ideological conflict? What purpose do we have for denotations such as ‘terrorist’, which are being used increasingly to justify state-sanctioned violence? And what of the notion that juxtaposed ideologies necessarily result in conflict?

Issue 22 of FORUM seeks contributions from a range of disciplines that engage with the topic of conflicting ideologies. How do questions of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, religion, and political affiliation affect conceptions of ideology at both an individual and a wider cultural level? 

Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Hegemonic versus subaltern population groups
  • Utopian and dystopian visions
  • Wars of religion
  • Terror and state-sanctioned violence
  • Internal and external conflict
  • Nation-specific versus globally-minded ideological conflict
  • Private and public ideology
  • Violent and non-violent conflict
  • The breakdown of ideological pluralisms
  • The rhetoric of political discourse
  • Ideology in the digital age
  • Spaces and zones of conflict
  • Segregation, persecution, and migration
  • Forms of ideological warfare
  • Feminism and opposition

Papers must be between 3,000 - 5,000 words in length, formatted according to MLA guidelines. FORUM is also considering academic book reviews (1,000 words) and multimedia and alternative presentations for publication. Please e-mail your article, a short abstract and your academic CV in separate, clearly labelled DOC(X). files to by 29th February 2016. All eligible articles will be peer reviewed prior to publication. Only one submission per author per issue is permitted.

Issue 21 Private/Public



There has been a significant shift in the boundaries between the private and public realm in recent years. The increasing indistinction between the two spheres has multiple causes, among them the rise of identity politics and the popularity of the confessional mode. The former might be said to underwrite the latter: the feminist rallying cry,  ‘the personal is the political’ providing a substantial justification for radical autobiography. The motto continues as a cornerstone of feminist consciousness, as well as other forms of identity politics (after all, the agora remains predicated upon exclusion to some degree), but the ongoing consequences for public discourse are unclear. Some suggest that the privileging of positions based upon more and more specific identities promotes a form of narcissism or victimhood which threatens collective agency and the possibilities of larger conceptions of ‘the public good’. 

While identity politics and the confessional mode have contributed to the enlargement of ‘the private’, the increasing dominance of the corporate model has led to the erosion of what has traditionally been conceived of as ‘the public’, most notably in the commercialisation of the media, and the edging out of the public-interest model. Institutions such as museums, universities and schools have also become defined by the corporate paradigm, and public space is increasingly no such thing. New technologies, in particular social media, have played their part in blurring the boundaries between public and private, formal and informal.

Has there been a retreat into private and individualised experience? Have the critical languages that might abstract this individualised experience been largely abandoned in favour of the logic of spectacle? What constitutes the public sphere in the contemporary moment? If the traditional notion of the public sphere involves a ‘top down' model, what are the possibilities for the ‘bottom-up’ paradigm offered by the commons, and enabled by online networks?

Issue 21 of FORUM engages with the debate about the distinctions or indistinctions between the private and public spheres.

 Click here to read the issue.

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ISSN 1749-9771