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Conference on Studies of Belonging 2
9 June - 11 June 2021

Conference on Studies of Belonging

NIAS Conference 2021

'Mapping Belonging as a field of study, Establishing future networks'

During this three-day interdisciplinary working conference, panellists collaboratively sketched the landscape of Belonging as a field of academic and artistic study. The conference aimed to set up a research agenda and future interdisciplinary and international collaborations on this topic.

Keynote Speakers

On the occasion of NIAS’ 50th Anniversary, the three key-note lectures were given by eminent academics who explore the concept of Belonging from their own areas of expertise.

Gloria Wekker NIAS Alumna and Emeritus Professor Gender and Ethnicity, University of Utrecht, will mention some foundational starting points for Belonging as a field of study. She drew upon real-life moments to illustrate and analyze, particularly moments when she felt like she belonged, and distinctly felt that she did not.

Amin Ghaziani, Professor of Sociology, University of British Columbia, will speak about the emplacement of Belonging. How does the conceptualisation of Belonging change as a function of where we locate it – from neighbourhoods to night-time venues?

and Nadim Rouhana NIAS Alumni and Professor of International Affairs and Conflict Studies, Tufts University, will speak about the promises and pitfalls of the notion of homeland, particularly in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


You can rewatch the keynote lectures here 

Listeners could choose from over 30 panel discussions, and create their own conference journey

The overarching theme of Belonging was divided into four topical threads

View the conference-programme-book

Each topical thread will have interdisciplinary panels consisting of scholarly and artistic presentations.

Community and the Individual
This thread focuses on the importance and pitfalls for individuals of belonging to a (local, imagined, virtual, religious) community. It deals with the tension between the self and community-life.

Practices of Belonging
How do human beings bring belonging into practice? Also in relation to place-attachment? What tools and material objects do they use, develop and implement in their daily lives to sustain a sense of belonging or to create this anew?

Borders and Mobility
This thread deals with the relation between idea(l)s of the nation-state, (up)rootedness, borders, finding refuge, cultural boundaries and (trans)national institutions in regards to issues of belonging.

Identity, Inequality and Politics
This thread explores the interplay between belonging, identity and politics based on social markers such as race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, (dis)ability, and class. The notion of politics is used in the broadest sense of the word, ranging from power relations on the micro-level of everyday interactions, to more structural, institutionalized forms of power-inequalities and the struggle for belonging.

Conference fees and Participation

A tiered fee structure will apply according to country of residence. We are committed to engaging scholars, artists, journalists and writers from underrepresented communities especially from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.


About NIAS

NIAS’ mission is to foster curiosity-driven research that pushes the traditional disciplinary boundaries and questions underlying methodological and theoretical assumptions. Each year, NIAS hosts an international, interdisciplinary group of 50 fellows who work on their independent research projects while being embedded in a thriving intellectual community.
Starting in 2021 during the 50th anniversary of NIAS, a 3-day NIAS conference will be organised in Amsterdam, the Netherlands every two years.