Call for Proposals
2020 Cultural Studies Association (CSA) Conference
Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association (USA)
Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
May 28-May 30, 2020
Final Deadline for Submissions: Monday, Dec 9, 2019
This Year's Theme: Bodily Sovereignty and Collective Action
The Cultural Studies Association (CSA) invites proposals for participation in its eighteenth annual meeting. Proposals on all topics relevant to cultural studies will be considered, with priority given to proposals that engage this year's theme of Bodily Sovereignty and Collective Action. Membership of the CSA is not required to submit a proposal for this year’s conference, but membership is required in order to present at the conference.
The notion of sovereignty is up for serious epistemological debate. We encourage proposals that investigate and consider how the framework of sovereignty informs the re-mappings, re-zonings, and regressions of the current conjuncture, and how ideas of sovereignty inform cultural productions and resistance to these changes. At the same time, we invite critical perspectives on sovereignty’s appropriations and strategic deployments in contemporary and historical contexts. We take inspiration, in particular, from the conference’s location in the city of Chicago, which has a long history of resistance to violence and has been a key site in the fight for bodily sovereignty, whether in the significance of the Haymarket riot in the struggle for global labor rights, the legendary Jane Collective’s work restoring women’s bodily sovereignty before Roe v. Wade, the ongoing collective resistance to police brutality, and the still countercultural notion that Black Lives Matter. We encourage proposals that draw on these legacies and illuminate paths in which they prefigure sovereign futures.
Furthermore, we welcome proposals that consider who can lay claim to sovereignty, as well as the formations of power, knowledge, and capital that circumscribe such claims. Proposals might, for example, question which bodies--human and non-human--“count” as sovereign, and at which historical, political, socio-ecological, and cultural points. We invite theoretical interventions that situate these emergent questions around self-determination with respect to critiques of (racial) capitalism, biopolitics, hetero-patriarchy, and white supremacy.
Why This Theme, Now?
Within the U.S. and beyond, the past few years have been a turbulent and reactionary period of social and political realignment. In the U.S., state level abortion bans have dangerously regressed national laws on reproductive autonomy, while public protests and social media activism are insisting that #TimesUp on the corporate and cultural protection of patriarchal sexual violence. National borders are being remapped and rezoned around the world, as in the U.S. policy that extends a militarized national border all the way to the southern border of Mexico, or the ongoing refugee and border crises in Western Europe ignited by Brexit, all of which operate within a nationalist paradigm rooted in authoritarianism, isolationism and xenophobia. As Wendy Brown puts it in Walled States, Waning Sovereignty, these developments exhibit “subject desires that are themselves the effect of declining sovereignty, desires that states can neither gratify nor ignore.” In this view, movements for autarky, for America First, for Walls and bans arise precisely because the “potent fiction” of nation-state sovereignty has been “compromised by growing transnational flows of capital, people, ideas, goods, violence, and political and religious fealty.” Their aim is to reactivate nation-state sovereignty through a violent assault on the absolute sovereignty of migrants, refugees, the marginalized, and stateless persons. Popular understandings of these developments is increasingly defined by micro-targeted advertisements, feeds, and search results made possible by the corporate and government harvesting of personal data, channelled through proprietary algorithms that excel at creating isolated islands of ideological sovereignty at the expense of actual information autonomy and democratic connectivity. And amidst all of this, environmental protections are rolled back, whether in the Amazonian Rainforest or in Indigenous lands across North America, continuing a centuries-long colonial assault on Indigenous/ Native sovereignty.
Engaging with the Theme
As with past conferences, we welcome proposals from all disciplines and topics relevant to cultural studies, including literature, history, sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, communications, popular culture, cultural theory, queer studies, critical race studies, feminist studies, postcolonial studies, legal studies, science studies, media and film studies, material culture studies, platform studies, affect studies, visual art and performance studies. Topics that applicants might address include, but are not limited to:
- Information/knowledge sovereignty
- Autonomy in the age of surveillance capitalism
- Autonomous infrastructure of media and cultural production
- Bodily sovereignty/ autonomy as an issue of culture and power
- Sovereignty from possessive individualism to collective claims
- Cross-Cultural conceptualizations and practices of bodily sovereignty
- Bodily sovereignty as a feminist issue
- Environmental justice, climate change and the Anthropocene
- Sovereignty and the global right’s countermovement
- Sovereignty in the media: nationalisms, populisms, and xenophobia
- Migration, mobility, and bodily sovereignty
- Anti-imperial, anti-colonial, decolonial, and abolitionist sovereignties
- Critical disability studies on bodily sovereignties
- Queer perspectives on bodily sovereignty
- Psychoanalytic perspectives on bodily sovereignty
- Food sovereignty and food justice
- Sovereignty and intergenerational justice
- Sovereignty, community and the commons
- Post-sovereign subjects and post-sovereign ethics
The 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 intervene in 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.
- Submission System Open: Monday, October 14, 2019
- Final Deadline for Submissions: Monday, Dec 9, 2019.
- Early Bird Registration: Tuesday, October 15, 2019 until Friday, March 2, 2020.
- Friday, January 17, 2020: Notifications sent out
- Friday, March 2, 2020: Early Registration Ends, Regular Registration Rate Begins
- Friday, May, 1, 2020: Last day to register to participate in the conference. If you do not register by this date and are not a current member, your name will be dropped from the program.
The 2020 conference will be held at Columbia College Chicago in Chicago, Illinois, located in the South Loop of downtown Chicago. It is easily accessible via public transit from both Chicago O’Hare airport and Chicago Midway airport. A CSA hotel block for members will be announced at a later date.
All proposals should be submitted through Easy Chair using the following link:
The submission system will be open by Monday, October 14, 2019. Please prepare all the materials required to propose your session according to the given directions before you begin electronic submission. All 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 standard fonts, and include your name and affiliations as you would like them to appear on the conference program schedule.
INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIPS include individual memberships for up to seven affiliate faculty, staff and students at member institutions. 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 individual memberships and therefore reduced registration rates. Full benefits of institutional membership are described here:
In order to participate in the conference and be listed in the program, all those accepted to participate must register before Friday, May 1, 2020. And remember: registration for the conference and membership in the CSA are separate transactions (and both are required to present).
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 grants may be found here.
Important Note about Technology Requests: accepted participants should send their technology requests to Michelle Fehsenfeld at email@example.com. Technology requests must be made by Friday, May 1, 2020.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com
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 to the seminar leader(s) directly by March 2, 2020. 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 April 13, 2020. 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, 2019. 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). Please direct questions about seminars firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that for them 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).
MEET THE AUTHOR: 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 could be nominated) are eligible for nomination. Only CSA members may submit nominations. Self-nominations are not accepted.
WORKING GROUP CALLS FOR PROPOSAL:
WORKING GROUP SESSIONS: CSA has a number of ongoing working groups. 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: http://www.culturalstudiesassociation.org/workinggroups.
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 that consider the theme of “Interventions.” 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. Please email Make(r)Space submissions by March 13, 2020 to: email@example.com
LATERAL WORKSHOP: Lateral, the journal of the Cultural Studies Association invites submissions of emerging work for constructive feedback with the Lateral editors and cultural studies scholars at the Cultural Studies Association 2020 Conference. We especially invite participation from junior scholars, graduate students, and those working beyond the bounds of the university, as well as those who intend to eventually submit their work to Lateral (workshop papers that are later submitted to the journal will undergo regular editorial and peer review). Participants will be notified of their acceptance into the workshop by mid-January, and complete drafts of articles (approximately 4,000–9,000 words in length) will be due mid-May and circulated to workshop participants at least two weeks before the conference. Strong submissions will situate their considerations of cultural practices, critical theories, and/or pedagogies within established and emerging conversations on racism, capitalism, sexuality, gender, ability, and colonialism. Prospective workshop participants, including those presenting work at the 2020 CSA Conference, should submit abstracts (no more than 500 words) or draft articles (approximately 4,000–9,000 words in length) through the submission system by the deadline for submissions. The journal can be accessed at csalateral.org
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, Chair of the Program Committee.