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Cultural Identity Studies Institute (CISI): Introduction


The Institute, previously known as Institute of European Cultural Identity Studies (IECIS), was set up in 1998 for the study of the collective identities of the countries of continental Europe. As we have gradually expanded to refer to other culture-zones, including the Arabic- and Persian-speaking world; the ex-Soviet republics; Latin America; French-speaking Africa, Canada and the Caribbean; as well as Britain, in 2016 we dropped the "European" from the title, becoming the Cultural Identity Studies Institute. We chose as our logo a gate from the St Salvator's Quad in St Andrews. The gate is ajar, to indicate that there is both a flow of identity in and out and some core within – although that too is in constant flux.

Our business is the 'poetics' of cultural identity: that is, the investigation of the diverse textual representational constructs and creations (e.g. traditions, myths, literary canons, and political institutions) by which national and other culture groups remember, explore, criticise and renew their sense of identity.

We aim to provide a focus and a forum for high-level research into cultural identity in all its aspects. As this inevitably involves potential interdisciplinary interactions with most of the subjects studied under the name of arts or humanities, CISI engages with expertise from a number of disciplinary areas across the University, representatives from which sit on its management committee.

In particular, we are committed to:

  • Providing a vibrant research environment for postgraduate students through an MLitt/PhD Programme in Cultural Identity Studies and a Research Seminar series in which staff, students and guest speakers can exchange and develop ideas. We encourage PhD work in areas related to identity, and you can find examples of past and current students (together with potential supervisors) under the list of Associate Members on the right of this page.
  • Initiating productive dialogue between the modern language disciplines and other disciplines through joint seminars, lecture series and conferences.
  • Producing a series of publications related to the research interests of the Institute which have often stemmed from the proceedings of our international conferences.

Director: Prof Catherine O’Leary

Management Committee:  Catherine O’Leary (Director); Karen Brown (Art History); Emma Buckley (Classics); Emilia Ferraro (Geography);  Jeffrey Murer (International Relations); Nigel Rapport (Social Anthropology); Anindya Raychaudhuri (English); Gustavo San Roman (Modern Languages); Bernhard Struck (History).