CFP: Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity (Netherlands) (1/11/05; 3/29/06-3/31/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Firat, B.O.
contact email:

Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity: Knowledge, Politics, Cultural =
Production <<ole0.bmp>> Wednesday, 29 March - Friday, 31 March 2006 =
<<ole1.bmp>> <<ole2.bmp>>=20
The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) invites proposals for =
the international workshop, Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity, =
to be held between 29th - 31st of March, 2006 in Amsterdam, the =
Netherlands. This interdisciplinary workshop will be dedicated to =
exploring the concepts of commitment and complicity as they manifest =
themselves at the intersections of knowledge, politics and cultural =

Confirmed Keynotes: Prof. Sara Ahmed, Prof. Timothy Brennan, Prof. =
Elleke Boehmer, Prof. Rey Chow.
The concepts of commitment and complicity come into play when scholars =
engage with tensions between knowledge, world politics and everyday =
life. For example, if one asks how knowledge and methodologies in the =
humanities can travel to make a difference in everyday politics and vice =
versa. Although the two concepts are widely used in colloquial language, =
their intellectual trajectories have often been under-illuminated. =
Either commitment seemed (a) good in itself, or the so-called =
disinterestedness of knowledge production foreclosed any kind of =
assessment of the term. Equally, the uses of complicity have kept the =
concept outside the realm of examination. Either complicity was used to =
stress the accommodating roles of knowledge, intellectuals and cultural =
production in relation to dominant power structures, or it was =
celebrated as an enabling condition for research.

Sparked by an interest in commitment as a form of self-reflexive, =
engaged and responsible knowledge production, while haunted by the =
hidden or explicit complicity of the theories and concepts with which we =
work, this workshop sets out to examine both concepts within their =
situated trajectories. In order not to turn blind - methodologically and =
conceptually - at the very moment we use commitment and complicity, both =
concepts need to remain subject to critical examination. Thus, the =
question is not whether one is a committed or a complicit scholar, but =
how the twin concepts crystallize and manifest themselves at the =
intersections of knowledge, politics and cultural production, and how =
they travel through space and time, institutions, and methods of =
Uncomfortably and paradoxically, 'individuality', 'freedom' and 'choice' =
are some of the constitutive conditions of intellectual practices. =
However, the position of the intellectual, the commitment and/or =
complicity of the knowledge s/he produces and her/his actions are not =
merely contingent upon these conditions, particularly when other notions =
such as autonomy, intellectual solidarity, critical thought and =
answerability are taken into consideration. Opening up a space for =
discussion for alternative conceptualizations of intellectual practices =
while keeping in mind that knowledge, politics and cultural production =
are discourses of power, we wish to develop an understanding that both =
works with and against commitment and complicity. In doing so, we intend =
to treat these twin concepts with the same kind of generous scrutiny =
bestowed on other traveling concepts in the humanities.=20
* We encourage contributions surrounding, but by no means limited to, =
the following questions:=20
Spatio-temporal Trajectories: Definitions of commitment and complicity =
are often dependent on the historical, political and cultural frameworks =
within which they are discussed. Due to this variation, the 'object' of =
commitment and complicity as well as its specific spatio-temporal =
cultural manifestations should not be taken for granted. Yet, commitment =
and complicity also seem to relate to universalisms such as 'human =
rights' and 'freedom of thought'. How can we think of commitment and =
complicity without running the risk of turning them into either master =
narratives or culturally relativist concepts? To what extent are =
commitment and complicity culturally specific concepts? How do specific =
forms of commitment and complicity arise in particular geographic, =
cultural and social locations, and how can they possibly move to other =
contexts? Regarding the genealogy of commitment and complicity, how, by =
whom and to what aims have both concepts been used?=20
Trajectories in Cultural Production: Cultural artifacts as productions =
of knowledge are often informed by practices of commitment and =
complicity, and hence require to be analyzed in terms of them. In what =
ways do cultural products articulate or produce forms of commitment and =
complicity? How, and through which strategies, do cultural artifacts =
negotiate the ways in which they are committed or complicitous? How are =
reading/viewing practices informed by commitment and complicity? In what =
ways do overtly 'committed' cultural artifacts become expressions of =
complicity? Is there such a thing as a 'committed' cultural artifact or =
is it more apt to talk about committed or complicitous readings? How can =
we understand processes of cultural production and consumption in terms =
of commitment and complicity?=20
Trajectories of intellectual production: While committed to =
socio-political causes, intellectuals are also mediated by that which =
they seek to resist. Through the concepts of commitment and complicity, =
the nature of the relationship between the intellectual, the knowledge =
s/he produces, and everyday politics can be scrutinized. How can we =
envision intellectuals to be committed and complicit in terms of their =
political (institutional, personal, cultural) situation? To what extent =
is their institutional situation an enabling or restrictive condition, =
and to what extent does that situation politicize or depoliticize the =
very material and ideas they work on? When do the commitment and =
complicity of knowledge and its production risk inserting one's =
scholarly production into the dominant ideologies one sets out to =
criticize? And to what extent could the concepts of commitment and =
complicity contribute to an effective methodology (e.g. =
self-reflexivity) for studying these questions?
* Organizing Committee: Bregje van Eekelen, Begum Ozden Firat, Sarah de =
Mul, Ihab Saloul, Sonja van Wichelen
* Host Institution: The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) is =
devoted to studying contemporary culture through detailed, historically =
as well as theoretically informed analyses of case studies. Participants =
should specify how the concepts of commitment and/or complicity are =
theoretically, politically, and culturally relevant and related to their =
own work. The concepts may be addressed together or separately and =
preferably in correlation with cultural objects such as film, artworks, =
television, literature, photography, music, museums, scientific =
objects/practices, religious objects/practices, etc. This conference is =
the latest in a series of ASCA graduate conferences and is inspired by =
the Theory Seminar organized by Mieke Bal in 2004-2005 on "Commitment in =
the Humanities."=20
*The workshop format of the conference is designed to stimulate =
discussion in the panels. Instead of "reading" their papers at the =
conference, participants are encouraged to give a 15-minute presentation =
of their work, connecting their paper to the other papers in their panel =
and to the overall concerns of the conference. <<ole3.bmp>>=20
Participation instructions=20
Please send your 200 - 300 words proposal, accompanied by a short CV, by =
November 1st 2005. Proposals will be selected according to their =
relevance to the topics of the conference. Participants will be asked to =
send the final version of their papers (4000-word maximum) by January =
30th, 2006. A reader will be prepared for each of the panels and will be =
circulated before the workshop.=20
* Please send your proposal to the ASCA office at the following address: =

Dr Eloe Kingma, Managing Director ASCA=20
Spuistraat 210. 1012 VT Amsterdam. The Netherlands.=20
Phone: +31 20 525 3874.=20
Fax: +3120 525 3052.=20
Email: <>=20
Website: <>=20

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Received on Tue Oct 18 2005 - 00:13:08 EDT

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