TaCo 2020: Taboo in Language, Culture and Communication, Sept 30th–Oct 2nd, 2020 – University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
The Taboo Conference series (TaCo) is an interdisciplinary conference aimed at bringing together scholars of various aspects of taboo in a variety of academic fields. The project was originated at the Department of Interpretation and Translation of the University of Bologna, Italy, where the first edition was held in 2012. The following editions were held every two years in Durham (UK), Barcelona (Spain) and Bertinoro (Italy). For its fifth installment the conference will be held in Rome. We hope you’ll be able to join us next year to discuss all the multifaceted ramifications of taboo in language, culture and communication.
For the Organizing Committee,
In a world that seems continuously to be stretching the line of what is acceptable to the inhabitants of specific linguistic and cultural contexts, this interdisciplinary conference acknowledges the importance of investigating taboos and their reinforcement/breaking in various areas of language, culture, literature and society, and across different cultures. We propose to explore the delicate balance and subtle boundaries between the need for inclusion and respect for different ethnic, religious, sexual backgrounds – which seem to be at the basis of modern multicultural societies – and a conscious (or unconscious) push towards the breaking of existing taboos, for example for shock value, as in the case of comedy and art. In such contexts, investigation of the linguistic, cultural, social, institutional and personal implications of taboo reinforcement/breaking appears of extreme value.
For its 5th edition, the Taboo Conference series will specifically address the intricacies of taboo in language, culture, literature and communication in its various occurrences from the points of view of production, performance, and perception/reception. The subject of taboo in language, culture, literature and communication seems to have become especially relevant in the last few years, in which political correctness at both the institutional and individual level has been seen, on the one hand, as a crucial tool in protecting people from verbal abuse and in preventing the reinforcement of stereotypes and, on the other, as a set of measures and a way of thinking which significantly curtail free speech in many aspects of the public sphere.
The 2020 conference seeks to explore the shifting boundaries of the acceptability of taboo in their various incarnations as produced and perceived in today’s multicultural society, from cinema and television, to news, videogames, literature and different kinds of online content. The study of taboo in the past, for example through the medium of literature, is also relevant to the conference. Possible areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to, political orientations and political satire, identity and gender politics, ethnic stereotypes, different kinds of non-normative behaviour, political correctness and the discourse surrounding it, and the debate between real and perceived offense through comedy.
We welcome individual proposals or pre-organized panels from different disciplines pertaining – but by no means limited – to the following thematic areas and their intersections in various mediatic forms:
- Sex and sexuality (e.g. nudity, non-normative sexual practices, pornography)
- Racism and sexism (e.g. white supremacy, gender discrimination, transphobia)
- Death and dying (e.g. mortality, ageing, funerals and burials, fatal accidents)
- Sickness, disability, and deformity
- Scatology (e.g. excreta/effluvia)
- Politics (e.g. political corruption, political incorrectness, prejudice, gender discrimination)
- Religions and blasphemy (rituals, prejudice, afterlife)
- Money (greed, graft, exploitation, waste, extravagance, poverty)
- Changing social attitudes towards violence, exploitation and abuse (prostitution, slavery, trafficking, rape, children’s rights)
- Censorship, reactions to it, and its effects.