Call for papers: Doing Justice to Figures

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Final reminder for ESRC and LSE Gender Institute graduate research symposium Call for Papers – deadline: Monday, 30 March.
Keynote speaker: Dr. Imogen Tyler (Co-Director: Centre for Gender & Women’s Studies, Lancaster)
Doing Justice to Figures and Figuration
A One Day Graduate Research Symposium

Friday June 19th, 2015
London School of Economics

Doing Justice to Figures and Figuration seeks to bring together interdisciplinary scholars in the social sciences working on figuration and/or with figures. Figuration – the process of reification through the production of a particular form or idea – is increasingly understood as significant to mobilizing and understanding social and political life. The proliferation of contemporary iterations, including the benefits cheat, the Islamic extremist, the innocent child, and the integrated immigrant, are being used to justify everything from the increasing cuts in social welfare and education, to the ongoing funding of global warfare, and the heightened restrictions on immigration. In the stigmatization or celebration of figures, affective and historical discourses of gender, ability, race, religion, sexuality, age, class, and nation are called upon to structure social and political life. Simultaneously semiotic and material, figures can be used to powerful effect across divergent sites.

Resonant with meaning, the use of figures and figuration in the academy is equally complex. Within social science research, figures are employed to illustrate theories, unpacked to reveal structures of subject production, or cited and explored as knowledge-producers in their own right. But these strategies are not innocent of the dilemmas that popular forms of figuration face. Due to the heightened impact of contemporary figures on social life, academic research on or with figures requires urgent provocation and renewed critical reflection.

Doing Justice to Figures and Figuration thus seeks to create a space in which to discuss the potentials and risks of using and interrogating figures within academic research. Asking, for example: How do figures structure contemporary forms of racism, nationalism, heterosexism, homonormativity, coloniality, and biopolitical regulation? How do we do justice to contemporary “optimistic” figures which might emerge out of and extend violent histories? What role does affect play in the prioritization or vilification of contemporary and historical figures? What methodological approaches, theoretical lenses, and modes of writing lend themselves to doing justice to figures?

In conversation with the questions above, we invite proposals for 20 minute papers which might address, but are not limited to, the following themes:

Figuration in feminist, critical race, postcolonial, and queer scholarship
Contemporary mobilizations of figures in social life and social research
Troubling representation
Practices of figuration across spheres and in (inter)disciplinary locations
Difficulties of transgression and justice in critical social science scholarship
Figures as individuating or collectivizing strategies
Figuration’s relationship with state projects, globalization, and neoliberalism
Figures as heroic, utopian, “modern,” negative, dangerous, or abjected
The significance of figures to methodological and theoretical approaches
The role and utility of affect in social regulation and scholarship

Please submit paper abstracts of 300-500 words along with a short biography of 150 words to E.J.Spruce@lse.ac.uk by Monday 30 March.

Doing Justice to Figures is funded by the ESRC and the LSE Gender Institute. It is being organised by Emma Spruce and Jacob Breslow, doctoral researchers at the LSE’s Gender Institute.

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