Annual Conference

Updated: January 16, 2017

Cultural Studies Association

Georgetown University, May 25-27, 2017


This year’s Cultural Studies Association conference will operate with two concurrent themes.

First theme: Culture in the Age of Mass Debt. This is the first theme we announced earlier, and the link to the original CFP is here.

Second theme: Dealing with Trump. As we enter into an unpredictable phase in our political, cultural and economic history, we invite submissions that take up the issues and challenges that Trumpery poses.

We welcome the widest array of proposals on both of these themes, and indeed, on any topic relevant to Cultural Studies broadly conceived.

Any queries, please contact our Administrative Manager at


Annual Conference

2017 Cultural Studies Association (CSA) Conference

Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association (US)

Georgetown University, Washington, DC

25-27 May 2017

This Year's Theme: Culture in the Age of Mass Debt

The Cultural Studies Association (CSA) invites proposals from its current (as well as past and future) members for participation in its fifteenth annual meeting. Proposals on all topics of relevance to cultural studies are welcome, with priority given to proposals that critically and creatively engage this year's highlighted theme.

Our theme title suggests that debt is massive, held by the masses, that this sort of debt is historically specific to our era, and that such extensive debt has an impact on culture. All of this has potential for lively debate and discussion. We hope this theme will invite an exploration of both theory and method at our annual conference as we ask and attempt to answer such questions as: What does a cultural studies approach to debt entail? How does cultural studies theorize the relation of economic to cultural phenomena? Is debt embedded in social life? A transhistorical component of social relations? The social bond itself? Or is debt a new or newly significant aspect of contemporary capitalism? How have social movements claimed, refused or forgiven various “debts”? What alternatives to state policies of austerity--such as jubilee or forgiveness--exist to debt? How are these political or personal, economic or moral choices? How is debt represented?
Some theorists and activists see debt as the defining issue of our time (Maurizio Lazzarato, Richard Dienst, David Graeber, Andrew Ross), shaping our subjectivity as production and consumption have done in prior moments. Others have encouraged a focus on the financialization of capitalism, in which context debt is one financial instrument among many and maybe not as impactful on or epitomizing of the current era as the derivative (Martin). For others, debt must be understood as the product of performative representational practices of accounting, that constitute and reiterate social hierarchies through attributions of credits and debts (Joseph), not limited to the financial. The Cultural Studies Association welcomes investigations of any of these approaches as well as new interventions in thinking about debt. We encourage proposals to define debt in innovative ways and to complicate it with interdisciplinary methods, theories, and texts.

Topics that might be addressed include but are not limited to:

  • The history of debt as both a cultural practice and financial product governed by specific government policies.

  • Differences between debt as practice, policy, and product across time and space.

  • The ideological narratives that undergird debt, austerity, and jubilee and the institutions that promote and support those narratives, including but not limited to the church, think tanks, universities, and the mass media.

  • Uses of debt as a weapon, in interpersonal, carceral, and international settings

  • Debates over reparations

  • The reproduction of racial hierarchies through debt, such as criminalization and the financial obligations imposed by the criminal (in)justice system

  • The impact of student debt on our work in the academy

  • The impact of financialization on our universities

  • Actions of resistance against the imposition of debt, including but not limited to the Store Debt movement, the Rolling Jubilee, and the Jubilee 2000.

  • Securitization, as deployed in financial and policing contexts, and the relation between those uses.

  • Risk and precarity, as deployed vis-a-vis individualized responsibility for physical danger, “at risk” populations, and as a central component of economic praxis.

  • The shifting bonds of debt, from the debt owed to community and family to the debt owed to faceless financial institutions.

  • Neoliberalism as a project of preserving the value of debt, and more fully shifting the burden of debt from states to individuals, as evidenced in health care, education, and housing.

  • The affect of debt. Indebtedness and feelings of obligation, from the debt that criminals supposedly pay by spending time in prison, to the responsibilities we feel to care for dependants, to the reparations that might be owed to whole populations that have been systematically enslaved, exploited, oppressed.

  • Scales of debt, from the “mass debt” of our title to the debts held by specific communities or individuals.

  • Questions of value, from debt and credit to ethical and moral, and their overlaps.

  • Accounting and accountability.

  • Site-specific interventions, including those engaging with the conference location or with Georgetown University’s recent acknowledgement of its history of owning slaves and selling them off to pay its debts.

  • The growing crisis in Higher Education funding, particularly in the U.S., where student debt now tops US$1 trillion, spawning movements like the Strike Debt to advocate for mass action against this unsustainable model.

We welcome proposals from scholars contributing to cultural studies who may be located in any discipline, inter-discipline, or scholarly field. CSA aims to provide multiple and diverse spaces for the cross-pollination of art, activism, pedagogy, design, and research by bringing together participants from a variety of positions inside and outside the university. Therefore, while we welcome traditional academic papers and panels, we also encourage contributions that experiment with alternative formats and challenge the traditional disciplinary formations and exclusionary conceptions and practices of the academic (see session format options listed below). We are particularly interested in proposals for sessions designed to document and advance existing forms of collective action or catalyze new collaborations. We encourage submissions from individuals working beyond the boundaries of the university: artists, activists, independent scholars, professionals, community organizers, and community college educators.

Important Dates:

  • November 15, 2016: Submission System Opens (Membership and Registration also open -- You must be a member to submit!)

  • February 1, 2017: Last Date for Submissions

  • February 20, 2017: DEADLINE EXTENDED. Last Date for Submissions.

  • March 15, 2017: Notifications Sent Out

  • April 15, 2017: Early Registration Ends and Late Registration Begins (Registration fees increase by $50 for all categories.)

  • May 1, 2017: Last day to register to participate in the conference – your name will be dropped from the program if you do not register by this date.


The 2017 conference will be held at Georgetown University, Washington DC. The closest airport is Reagan National Airport (20 minutes). Lodging options will include campus housing and a CSA hotel block in the surrounding Georgetown/Rosslyn locale.


All proposals should be submitted through Easy Chair using the links supplied on the member page for the Annual Conference. Submission of proposals is limited to current CSA members. See the benefits of membership and become a member: Membership Application.

INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIPS include three complimentary conference registrations annually for students. Graduate students who wish to submit proposals are strongly encouraged to speak with their Department Chair or Program Director about institutional membership and where possible, make use of the complimentary registrations. Full benefits of institutional membership are described here:

The submission system will be open by November 15, 2016. Please prepare all the materials required to propose your session according to the given directions before you begin electronic submission. All final program information – names, presentation titles, and institutional affiliations – will be based on initial conference submissions.  Please avoid lengthy presentation and session titles, use normal capitalization, and include your name and affiliations as you would like them to appear on the conference program schedule.


In order to participate in the conference and be listed in the program, all those accepted to participate must register before May 1, 2017.

Register here.


CSA offers a limited number of travel grants, for which graduate and advanced undergraduate students can apply. Only those who are individual members, have been accepted to participate, and have registered for the conference are eligible to apply for a travel grant. Other details and criteria are listed here:

Travel Grant information may be found here.

Important Note about Technology Requests
Please indicate your technology needs in the submission process. We will try to accomodate all requests but cannot guarantee we can meet them. 


Note: While we accept individual paper proposals, we especially encourage submissions of pre-constituted sessions. Proposals with participants from multiple institutions will be given preference.

All sessions are 90 minutes long. All conference formats are intended to encourage the presentation and discussion of projects at different stages of development and to foster intellectual exchange and collaboration. Please feel free to adapt the suggested formats or propose others in order to suit your session’s goals. If you have any questions, please address them to Michelle Fehsenfeld at:

PRE-CONSTITUTED PAPER PANELS: Pre-constituted panels allow 3-4 individuals to each offer 15-20 minute presentations, leaving 30-45 minutes of the session for questions and discussion. Panels should have a chair/moderator and may have a discussant. Proposals for pre-constituted panels must include: the title of the panel; the name, title affiliation, and contact information of the panel organizer; the names, titles, affiliations, and email addresses of all panelists, and a chair and/or discussant; a description of the panel's topic (<500 words); and abstracts for each presentation (<150 words). Pre-constituted panels are preferred to individual paper submissions.

INDIVIDUAL PAPERS: Individuals may submit a proposal to present a 15-20 minute paper. Selected papers will be combined into panels at the discretion of the Program Committee. Individual paper proposals must include: the title of the paper; the name, title, affiliation, and email address of the author; and an abstract of the paper (<500 words).

ROUNDTABLES: Roundtables allow a group of participants to convene with the goal of generating discussion around a shared concern. In contrast to panels, roundtables typically involve shorter position or dialogue statements (5-10 minutes) in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer. The majority of roundtable sessions should be devoted to discussion. Roundtables are limited to no more than five participants, including the organizer. We encourage roundtables involving participants from different institutions, centers, and organizations. Proposals for roundtables must include: the title of the roundtable; the name, title, affiliation, and contact information of the roundtable organizer; the names, titles, affiliations, and email addresses of the proposed roundtable participants; and a description of the position statements, questions, or debates that will be under discussion (<500 words).

PRAXIS SESSIONS: Praxis sessions allow a facilitator or facilitating team to set an agenda, pose opening questions, and/or organize hands-on participant activities, collaborations, or skill-shares. Successful praxis sessions will be organized around a specific objective, productively engage a cultural studies audience, and orient itself towards participants with minimal knowledge of the subject matter. Sessions organized around the development of ongoing creative, artistic, and activist projects are highly encouraged. The facilitator or team is responsible for framing the session, gathering responses and results from participants, helping everyone digest them, and (where applicable) suggesting possible fora for extending the discussion. Proposals for praxis sessions must include: the title of the session; the name, title, affiliation, and contact information the facilitators; a brief statement explaining the session’s connection to the conference theme and describing the activities to be undertaken (<500 words) and a short description of the session (<150 words) to appear in the conference program. Please direct any questions about praxis sessions to Michelle Fehsenfeld at

SEMINARS: Seminars are small-group (maximum 15 individuals) discussion sessions for which participants prepare in advance of the conference. In previous years, preparation has involved shared readings, pre-circulated ''position papers'' by seminar leaders and/or participants, and other forms of pre-conference collaboration. We particularly invite proposals for seminars designed to advance emerging lines of inquiry and research/teaching initiatives within cultural studies broadly construed. We also invite seminars designed to generate future collaborations among conference attendees, particularly through the formation of working groups. A limited number of seminars will be selected. Once the seminars are chosen, a call for participants in those seminars will be announced on the CSA webpage and listserv. Those who wish to participate in a particular seminar must apply the seminar leader(s) directly by March 31,

2017. Seminar leader(s) will be responsible for providing the program committee with a confirmed list of participants (names, affiliations, and email addresses required) for inclusion in the conference program no later than May 1, 2017. Seminars will be marked in the conference programs as either closed to non-participants or open to all conference attendees. Proposals for seminars should include: the title of the seminar; the name, title, affiliation, and contact information of the seminar leader(s); and a description of the issues and questions that will be raised in discussion and an overview of the work to be completed by participants in advance of the seminar (<500 words). Individuals interested in participating in (rather than leading) a seminar should consult the list of seminars and the instructions for signing up for them, to be available on the conference website by March 1st.

Please direct questions about seminars to Please note that for seminars to run at the conference, they must be accepted for inclusion by the program committee and must garner a minimum of 8 participants, including the seminar leader(s).

AUTHOR MEETS CRITIC SESSIONS: Author Meets Critic Sessions are designed to bring authors of recent books deemed to be important contributions to the field of cultural studies together with discussants selected to provide different viewpoints. Books published one to three years before the conference (for example, for the 2013 conference, only books published between 2010-2012 can be nominated) are eligible for nomination. Only CSA members may submit nominations.  Self-nominations are not accepted.


WORKING GROUP SESSIONS: CSA has a number of ongoing working groups. Working groups are encouraged to organize two sessions each. Working Group submissions can can either be an individual paper or pre-constituted panel and must be made through CSA’s online EasyChair submission portal. Choose either the Working Group Panel or Working Group Paper tracks, complete the submission information, and choose the appropriate working group from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page. Specific Themed calls for some working groups are listed below; check the Working Groups page of the CSA website for the most updated calls:

The Working Groups are also soliciting submissions. As about half of attendees participate in a sessions sponsored by a working group that serves as the conference home for many scholars.















The Make(r) Space is a space for the collaborative and praxis driven portions of Cultural Studies – making space for art, making space for political activism, making space for new modes of knowledge exchange. It is our goal that this space will be created for those that have been historically and systemically left out of these conversations: artists, activists, poets, and other cultural critics and makers. We want to create a space that helps the CSA fulfill some of the implicit praxis portion of its goals to “create and promote an effective community of cultural studies practitioners and scholars.” Building on the poets, dancers, painters, and activists already interested in the space, we welcome proposals for exhibits, performances, workshops, skill shares, story telling, and other ways of meaning-making and art-making in the world. We especially encourage Make(r) Space submissions from individuals working beyond the boundaries of the university: artists, activists, independent scholars, professionals, community organizers, contingent faculty, and community college educators. In the spirit of this year’s theme, Culture in the Age of Mass Debt, and building on the work done at last year’s CSA conference we will be utilizing a portion of the Make(r)Space to make space for a visual representation and discussion of debt and risk.

Please email Make(r)Space submissions by February 1, 2017 to:

(Notification and registration deadlines are the same as for all conference participants.)

PANEL CHAIRS: We are always in need of people to serve as panel chairs. To volunteer to do so please submit your name, title, affiliation, and email address, as well as a brief list of your research interests to, Chair of the Program Committee.

2017 Cultural Studies Association (CSA) Conference   

Fifteenth Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association (US)  

Georgetown University, 

Washington, DC

25-27 May, 2017