Fugitive Futures: Graduate Students of Color Un-Settling the University

deadline for submissions: 
May 15, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
The University of Texas at Austin
contact email: 

Graduate Student Conference 
Fugitive Futures: Graduate Students of Color Un-Settling the University 

21-22 September 2018, The University of Texas at Austin 


“...the subversive intellectual came under false pretenses….Her labor is as necessary as it is unwelcome. The university needs what she bears but cannot bear what she brings”

—  Fred Moten and Stefano Harney, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study


The modern university has been a space committed to rhetorics of diversity and inclusion; however, these rhetorics often obscure the university’s role in devaluing the radical work of faculty and students of color. Despite the often hostile atmosphere of the academy, this radical work persists. Graduate students of color and faculty continue to organize around their scholarship, pedagogy, activism, creative practices, and community building. Furthermore, their efforts chafe against the university’s tendency to undermine and marginalize dissident voices. The efforts of graduate students of color produce counter-narratives of solidarity, healing, and radical praxis.

This symposium is part of the shared intellectual labor of colleagues within the Ethnic and Third World Literatures concentration at UT Austin, whose critical scholarship has continued to engage anti-colonial revolutionary possibilities over and above orthodox postcolonial studies. The Global South Collective, an interdisciplinary graduate student group, made up of feminist, queer, first-generation, and working class students, also share this creative and intellectual energy. Their collective labor in unsettling the disciplining logics of the academy have been essential in conceptualizing this symposium.

Fugitive Futures takes up Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s claim that the only possible relationship to the university today is a criminal one. That subversive work in modern universities happens in the “undercommons” and the core of all dissident acts stems from the imperative to “sneak into the university and steal what one can.” Collectively, we ask: how might we negotiate our precarious positions in the university, and what are the stakes of articulating ourselves as “fugitives” in relation to the academy? Though futures speculates (un)imagined relationships to the university, it also questions the logic of optimism and its valences of progress.

In addition to more formally academic work, this symposium is dedicated to centering the personal writing and testimony of graduate students of color as a means of community building, decolonizing knowledge production, and demystifying the academy’s hidden curricula. We invite work that engages with themes such as, but not limited to:

  • Exploring race, class, gender, sexuality, disability, and indigeneity in creative and performative work
  • Decolonizing knowledge production
  • Crisis of uneven intellectual labor between those working on the global south and more canonical areas of study
  • Departures from Western genealogies of literature, theory, and pedagogies
  • Fugitive, criminal, maroon and thieving relationships to the university
  • Relationalities between metropole and peripheries towards identity construction
  • Global south-south circuits and solidarities
  • Intersectional methodologies and alternative pedagogies and research practices
  • Academic ventriloquism and the politics of legibility
  • Professionalizing/ “playing by the rules" logic of graduate programs
  • Shame, anxiety, and fear of imposter syndrome
  • Mental health and emotional labor
  • Practices of surviving the university
  • Organizing and activism in/outside of the university
  • Approaches for destabilizing white supremacy and white privilege
  • Encouraging goodwill, trust and emotional health in scholarly communities
  • How to practice, facilitate, and imagine scholarly insurgency in the academy
  • How to build noninstitutional support for those invested in decolonizing knowledge production, research, and pedagogy

Conference Date: September 21-22 2018

Submit individual (300 word description) and/or collaborative proposals (400 word description) and bio (up to 200 words per participant) by the deadline of Tuesday, May 15, 2018 via SUBMISSION FORM. https://goo.gl/forms/gIpgYjGHGc5wGSeH2

Please indicate if you have specific accessibility needs.

For more questions, please contact GSC at globalsouthcollective@gmail.com