Annual Conference

Call for Proposals for the Twelfth Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association (US)

Ecologies: Relations of Culture, Matter, and Power

University of Utah, Salt Lake City May 29-31, 2014

  • November 27: Submission System Opens - click here to go to it (if you're logged in as a CSA member)
  • January 7 January 27: Submissions due
  • February 10: Notifications sent out
  • February 10: Registration Opens - NOW OPEN
  • April 25: Early registration price ends

The Cultural Studies Association (CSA) invites proposals from its current and future members for participation in its twelfth annual meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Everyone cares about the environment these days, but what does it mean to speak of ecology? Network and systems theories suggest complex approaches to questions of culture and ecology. Assemblage theories explode stable conceptions of locality, sociality, and the human. We speak of programming environments, learning environments, media ecologies, organizational ecologies, digital ecologies, ecologies of resistance, ecologies of play, flows of information, nodal points of power, and open-source ecologies of collaboration and collective action. We mobilize ecological discourse as a means of understanding and challenging the material formations of power that discipline raced, gendered, sexed, and classed bodies. These discourses and processes create an ecology of meaning that informs how we talk about and understand our environments.

The theme of the 2014 Cultural Studies Association meeting, “Ecologies: Relations of Culture, Matter, and Power,” prompts inquiries into how environmental factors and ecological discourses shape conceptions of culture, matter, and power, and how these factors and discourses are shaped by forces of history and globalization. The theme also invites us to re-imagine the gathering as an ecology in its own right: an assemblage of cultural critics and producers. This year’s conference aims to provide 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. While formal academic papers will be accepted, we encourage contributors to experiment with alternative formats that challenge traditional disciplinary formations or exclusionary conceptions of the academic.

Proposals from all areas and on all topics of relevance to cultural studies are welcome, but preference will be given to proposals that critically and creatively engage this year's theme. Proposal topics might include, but should not be limited to:

  • The hybridization of ecology discourses: environmental activism, media ecology, organizational ecologies, social ecology, systems theories, spatial surveillance, etc.;
  • The cultural ecology of textual production, consumption, and interpretation;
  • Ecological perspectives on privatization, imperialism, racial hierarchies, global capitalism, etc.;
  • Queer, indigenous, activist, anti-capitalist, transgender, postcolonial and/or materialist perspectives on ecology;
  • Post-humanist, object-oriented, or actor-network ontologies, epistemologies, methodologies, and case studies;
  • Interpretive possibilities raised by ecology and the challenge of cultural materialism;
  • The “greening” of specific disciplines, fields and institutions, its implications, and its continued silences;
  • Pedagogical reflections, institutional ecologies, and ecologies of learning;
  • “Natural” disasters, privatization, waste, environmental inequality, and the displacement of industrialism;
  • Ecological foundations or justifications for new forms of surveillance, management, and control;
  • Collectives, nodes, networks, flows, vectors, circuits, and other models that de-center the autonomous individual;
  • Proliferation of synergistic and ecological discourses as reactionary requirements of late capitalism;
  • Sustainability and discourses of the future;
  • The invisible information ecology of data collection (e.g. the data collection center the NSA is building in Utah);
  • Digital environments and built spaces;
  • Bodily interactions with environmental elements (food, water, air, flows of energy);
  • Food justice and the politics of ingestion;
  • New modes of scholarship and activism that attempt to address questions of ecology;
  • Analysis that reflects upon the context of its case study or studies;
  • and Any other topic relevant to the theme.

All sessions run for 90 minutes and will have access to basic audiovisual equipment (projector, speakers, and internet connection). Sessions that require additional space or technical equipment may request reasonable accommodations from the organizing committee, but accommodations are contingent upon the availability of resources and equipment. Special requests should be included as a note in the body of the initial submission.

Additionally, please note that all session organizers must be CSA members for the 2014 calendar year at the time of submission.

As at past CSA conferences, we welcome proposals from a range of disciplinary and topical positions, including literature, history, sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, communication(s), popular culture, cultural theory, queer studies, critical race studies, feminist studies, post-colonial studies, legal studies, science studies, media and film studies, material cultural studies, platform studies, visual art and performance studies. We particularly encourage submissions from individuals working beyond the boundaries of the university: artists, activists, independent scholars, professionals, community organizers, or K-12 and community college educators.

About the University of Utah and Salt Lake City

This year’s conference is hosted by the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Located on a beautiful 1,534 acre campus two miles east of downtown Salt Lake City, the University of Utah has been nationally recognized for its sustainability efforts, which include the installation of solar ivy panels and a commitment to renewable energy. The University currently houses the J. Willard Marriott Library, the Jon M. Huntsman Center, the Utah Museum of Natural History, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and Red Butte Garden and Arboretum, and was one of the original four ARPANET nodes. Recently named by The Advocate as the gayest city in America, Salt Lake City is home to the Sundance Film Festival, Utah Symphony and Opera, The Leonardo, Capitol Theatre, Temple Square, Clark Planetarium, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Olympic Cauldron Park, and a vibrant local art and music scene.

Registration Fees

Like our membership fees, the registration fees will be on a sliding scale:

Income Level/Status Members Non-Members
Student/ Retired/ Underemployed $40 $90
Up to $40K $60 $130
Up to $60K $80 $180
Up to $80K $100 $230
$80K and over $130 $280

NOTE: There will be a late fee of $30 charged to all registrants after April 22.

Submission Deadline and Process

All proposals should be submitted through the CSA online system, available at Submission of proposals is limited to current CSA members. See the benefits of membership and become a member at

The submission system will be open in November, 2013. Please prepare all the materials required to propose your session according to the given directions before you begin electronic submission. Notification of acceptance will be given in February of 2014.



Conference Formats

We are open to formats not suggested below. If you have questions or suggestions for alternative formats, please be in touch with Robert Gehl (Rob AT RobertWGehl DOT org).

  1. PRE-CONSTITUTED PANELS Pre-constituted panels allow a team of 3-4 individuals to present their research, work, and/or experiences, leaving 30-45 minutes of the session for questions and discussion. Panels should include 3-4 participants. Proposals for pre-constituted panels should 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.

  2. INDIVIDUAL PAPERS Successful papers will reach several constituencies of the organization and will connect analysis to social, political, economic, or ethical questions. Proposals for papers should include: the title of the paper; the name, title, affiliation, and email address of the author; and an abstract of the 15-20 minute paper (<500 words). Pre-constituted panels are recommended over individual paper submissions, though we welcome both.

  3. 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 should 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).

  4. 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 should include: the title of the session; the name, title, affiliation, and contact information of the (lead) facilitator and of any co-facilitators; a brief statement explaining the session’s connection to the conference theme and describing the activities to be undertaken (<500 words). Please direct any questions about praxis sessions to the Praxis Coordinator, Josen Diaz (JGDiaz AT ucsd DOT edu).

  5. 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. Once a limited number of seminar topics and leaders are chosen, the seminars will be announced through the CSA's various public email lists. Participants will contact the seminar leader(s) directly who will then inform the Program Committee who will participate in the seminar. Seminars will be marked in the conference programs as either closed to non-participants or open to all conference attendees. A limited number of seminars will be selected by the program committee, with a call for participants in the chosen seminars announced on the CSA webpage and listserv no later than 21 February 2014. Interested parties will apply directly to the seminar leader(s) for admission to the session by 11 April 2014. 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 17 April 2014. 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, available at the conference website after 21 February 2014. Please direct questions about seminars to Seminars AT csalateral DOT org. Please note: To run at the conference, seminars accepted for inclusion by the program committee must garner a minimum of 8 participants, including the seminar leader(s).

  6. WORKING GROUP SESSIONS All working groups have two sessions at their command. Working groups may elect to post calls on the CSA site for papers and internal submission procedures or handle the creation of their two working group sessions by other means. Working groups will facilitate the creation of two sessions drawing from, but not limited to, working group members. Working groups should create their proposals according to the specifications listed under their session format. When submitting to the conference website, working groups should select “Working Group” as their session format and include a note in the body of their submission designating the session as an official submission of the working group. Only Working Group coordinators should submit Working Group session proposals through the conference submission system.

  7. 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 through the conference website.


2014 CSA Conference Sponsors

University of Utah Dean of Humanities
University of Utah Environmental Humanities Program
University of Utah Department of Communication
Tanner Humanities Center
University of Utah JR Park Debate Society
University of Utah Office of Undergraduate Studies
University of Utah Writing Program
University of Utah Department of English
Dean, The Graduate School, U of U
Vice President of Research, U of U

#CSA14 Organizing Committee

Megan Turner
Christina Nadler
Josen Diaz
Jamie Bianco
Robert W. Gehl

#CSA2014 Host Committee

Brian Cozen
Katie Hunt
Jessica Houf
Angel Maldonado
Stephanie Gomez
Robert W. Gehl

#CSA14 Program Review Committee

Jaafar Aksikas
Sean J. Andrews
Jamie Bianco