Transcultural Encounters 3: DEBATE! Language, Culture and Information in Interaction, June 10–11, 2021

Conference Update and Reopening of Call for Papers

The third Transcultural Encounters Conference will take place at the University of Oulu from 10th to 11th June 2021. The theme of the conference is Debate! Language, Culture and Information in Interaction. The conference is organised by the TCERC, Transcultural Encounters Research Center.

The title-word of the conference, debate, has several meanings. It can refer to the various ways in which discussion and opposing arguments have played a part, and continue to play, in human interaction. Throughout different time periods, debate has raged about actions, theories, ideologies, beliefs, political views, games and so on. Deriving from its archaic root of the agon in Greek drama, and the various forms of agonistic struggles and rivalries that permeate ancient Greek polis from its political contestations on the agora to the philosophical debates and Olympic games, debate and debating has remained at the heart of participatory democracy and its theories up to Rousseau and Hannah Arendt through contemporary postmodern societies. While in this outlook of the conceptual triad of agon, logos and polis, forms of argumentation and debate feed upon and build up the socio-cultural whole as such, more recently, criticism of the western universalism involved has made for an increasing part of the contestation of its heritage. Not necessarily tracing into the values of European classical tradition anymore, agonistic debate offers nevertheless still a vital interdisciplinary metaphor to reflect new forms of conflictual relations and situations between traditions of language and culture, and forms of information that globalisation and social modernisation bring into interaction.

In the early 21st-century, again, agonistic debate confronts new venues and challenges in its goal of setting a precarious balance of productive deliberation and disruptive division. New technologies of the age of ‘post-truth’ societies have tended to severe ever more the connection of information and knowledge. Evolving topics of global debate have created increasingly polarised and tensioned discursive terrains and civil societies. What perspectives can humanities and social sciences offer for contemporary situations of cultural agonism? How could sourcing of the traditions of debate help polities and societies find solutions to their pressing dilemmas and conceptual dead locks?

The conference invites scholars to join in to a fruitful and friendly debate on histories and futures of debating. It focuses on questions which are of interest e.g. for historians, cultural researchers, and cultural geographers, as well as for researchers of sociolinguistics (e.g. language contacts and minority languages), literary scholars and social scientists.



Topics and keywords for submissions may include some of the following (not exclusively):

  •  Arenas of debate in change: what were the spaces of debate in the past; what are they today; where and how does debating take place tomorrow? How do arenas and venues of debate affect modes of interaction? (in parliaments, courtrooms, newspapers, salons, the internet?)
  •  Disinformation/misinformation in history
  •  Languages of debate: how have people used language, both verbal and non-verbal, in arguing for their cause?
  •  Topics and rhetoric of debate in interaction: how do rhetorical forms and genres effect topics of debate, and vice versa?
  •   Politics, theatre and literature – today, and in the past
  •  Silenced debate: how has debate been restricted? How have different groups been marginalized or prevented from participating in discussion?
  • Agonistic virus: debating the global pandemia

Due to the Covid-19 pandemia, the conference has been postponed to June 10–11, 2021. As we still in the fall 2020 do not know how the situation evolves over the winter, we are looking forward to organize the conference in a hybrid mode of an onsite event in Oulu, with video participation available as an option, or as an alternative platform if needed in the circumstances at the time. Please indicate your preferred mode of participation while submitting or confirming your proposal.

All proposals accepted for presentation in June 2020 remain valid for 2021 conference. However, please confirm your participation by January 31, 2021.



We invite all who are interested to submit titles and abstracts (maximum 300 words) by January 31, 2021. Accepted proposals will be announced in early March 2021, and the preliminary schedule of the conference and practical instructions will be sent to participants by the end of March. Please address presentation proposals as an attached .pdf.


Practical information

The participation fee of the conference is 60 € (30 € for PhD students). The working languages are English and Finnish. An academic compilation based on the conference presentations is being planned.

The participation fee includes: entrance to the conference as a speaker, a conference folder and associated materials, refreshments on both days of the conference and a hard copy of the conference publication (including postage).

Self-financed dinner is served on Thursday evening.


Please direct abstract submissions, confirmations, and any inquiries to