[csaa-forum] CFP: Queer and Subjugated Knowledges: Generating Subversive Imaginaries - A Symposium with Judith Halberstam

Cristyn Davies c.m.davies at uws.edu.au
Thu Jan 3 09:46:24 CST 2008

Dear colleagues,

You might be interested in this call for papers for the Judith Halberstam
symposium in August 2008 sponsored by the Narrative, Discourse and Pedagogy
research node in the College of Arts at the University of Western Sydney.

best wishes,

Queer and Subjugated Knowledges: Generating Subversive Imaginaries

A Symposium with Judith Halberstam

University of Western Sydney, 14th and 15th August 2008

The dream of an alternative way of being is often confused with utopian
thinking and then dismissed as naïve, simplistic or as a blatant
misunderstanding of the nature of power in modernity. And yet, it is
possible to imagine other forms of being, other forms of knowing, a world
with different sites for justice and injustice, a mode of being where the
emphasis falls less on money and work and competition, and more on
cooperation, trade and sharing. The work that animates such knowledge
projects should not be dismissed as irrelevant or naive. Building upon
recent theorizations of the alternative, this symposium invites manifestos,
performative lectures, surprising presentations, all committed to imagining
life otherwise and thinking collectively about alternative epistemologies,
methodologies, life narratives, cultural productions, modes of being and

The recent work of cultural theorist, Judith Halberstam, makes new
investments in the notion of the counter-hegemonic, the subversive and the
alternative. For Halberstam, the alternative resides in a creative
engagement with subjugated histories, an ecstatic investment in the
subcultural and a defiant refusal of a dominant model of theory. She resists
the tendency within cultural studies to produce ever more detailed maps of
the hegemonic, and to subject itself to a particular mode of disciplinary
authority. She suggests that Stuart Hall¹s notion that theory is not an end
unto itself but ³a detour on route to something else² might lead us to a
better model of cultural theory. She invites us on a Benjaminian stroll or a
Situationist ³drive,² an ambulatory journey through the unplanned, the
unexpected, the improvised and the surprising.

Our present, our ³now,² is saturated with the lost hopes for a better
tomorrow produced by earlier generations. Rather than add to that burden of
lost hopes, she suggests we might think anew, working with the oppositional
aspirations of earlier movements. Robin Kelley, in his book on the Black
radical imagination, Freedom Dreams, uses just such a temporality for
thinking about transformation. He traces a genealogy of Black protest and
resistance drawing attention to the powerful legacy of such protests. He
writes: ³in the past there have been movements that may not have succeeded
in terms of our definition of success, but they have left us a very powerful
legacy of possibility.² Such a refocussing refuses the narrow either/or
logic of success and failure and favors instead the enabling notion of
working with the conditions of possibility that earlier movements made

Halberstam combines this refocusing on possibility with the alternative
thinking of Rosi Braidotti, for whom the alternative resides in a refusal of
psychoanalytic formulations of lack, melancholia and their implications of
permanent and inevitable loss. She initiates a turn away from affective
individualism and towards a nomadic vitalism, opening up thought to ³a
non-linear time of becoming² within which one can affirm life without
presuming to be at the center of it. In this symposium we will explore just
such an ethics that springs from movement, dynamism and openness to the

If you would like to participate in this symposium, send us a proposal that
makes space for your hopes, your fears, your wildest dreams. Make them a
vital part of your scholarship.

You are invited: 

a)   to propose a paper/performance/lecture that you would like to give
(five of which will be selected as the papers for the symposium),

b)  to propose that you be a respondent to one of the five papers (with five
respondents/interviewers being chosen) and/or

c)   to be a participant (participants will be chosen on the basis of their
proposals and with the aim of creating dynamic conversations across

NB. You may not be allocated exactly the position you ask for. The committee
selecting paper-givers, respondents and participants will assess the
submissions on merit, but also with a view to diversity. Respondents will be
chosen in terms of their match with paper-givers.

The format of the two days will be as follows:

* Opening address from Judith Halberstam on the topic of ³Alternative
Political Imaginaries²
* This will be followed by five papers over the remainder of the two days;
* These five papers, will each to be made available to all participants 4-6
weeks prior to the symposium and be presented in summary form at the
* Each of the five presenters will: illuminate a notion of the subversive or
the alternative with reference to a body of theoretical work, or a cultural
site or an activist practice and will expand upon this notion by way of
creative questions presented to the group as a whole. The presentation will
be followed by a commentary from the respondent, and an extended engagement
with these questions led by Judith Halberstam.
* Each paper will be allocated a one and a half hour session. It will be
presented in an abbreviated form (assuming everyone has read it), followed
by the respondent and then by open discussion led by Halberstam
* The presentations, interviews and discussion will be recorded and
transcribed and the proceedings will be submitted to a publisher in edited
form by Kerry Robinson and Cristyn Davies.

Our style of engagement:

Participants in this symposium on alternative imaginaries should probably be
prepared for alternative modes of interaction, engagement and discussion. In
terms of the presentations, polemics, manifestos and modest proposals are
encouraged but when we move to the discussion portion of the day, we expect
that people will thoughtfully engage with ideas that have been presented. We
encourage ³invested engagements,² in other words, participants might think
deeply ahead of time about what their various investments in certain
positions are and at the same time be prepared to enter into the surprising
possibilities opened up at the symposium.

Due date for submissions of interest, including 350 word abstracts for those
interested in giving a paper: 15th January 2008

Due date for advice on acceptance of abstracts:21st January 2008

Due date for submissions of papers to be sent out for review and sent to
respondents: 15th April 2008

Due date for reviews: 30th April 2008

Due date for revised papers: 30th May 2008

Papers sent out to all participants: 30th June

Due date for responses to papers: 15th July 2008

Due date for reviews of responses: 31st July 2008


Please send submissions to Cristyn Davies: c.m.davies at uws.edu.au



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