“Practicing Theory” :The 2011 ASCA International Conference and Workshop. 2-4 March 2011

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“Practicing Theory” :The 2011 ASCA (Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis) International Conference and Workshop. 2-4 March 2011
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Call for Papers
“Practicing Theory”

The 2011 ASCA International Conference and Workshop:

Date: 2-4 March 2011
Venue: University Theatre, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) invites proposals for papers and performances on the theme of Practicing Theory for its annual International Conference and Workshop.

Although theory and practice are often considered to be mutually exclusive,
this conference proposes to investigate how these two ways of thinking
and/or doing overlap and how they influence and construct each other. The
aim is to explore the productive intersections that arise when the
boundaries between theory and practice are considered as porous and the gap
that supposedly lies between them is reinvented as a constructive space of

So what does it mean to actually theorize; to be engaged in the act of
theory? As practitioners of cultural knowledge, it is clear that we are
also actively theorizing certain modes of praxis when we are writing,
speaking, thinking, experimenting and playing with our objects of analysis,
whatever they happen to be (art, literature, film, theatre, politics,
history, even theory itself). However, if theorizing praxis implies the
distanced application of a theory to a practice (such distance can be found
in the etymology of the term ‘theory,’ from the Greek, theoria - ‘to view’,)
is this not the opposite of what we mean when we say, ‘to practice theory’?
In other words, can we locate a border between ‘practicing’ and ‘theorizing’
theory? Are we not already engaged in theoretical acts of performativity
when we are committed to working across, within, and between cultures,
disciplines, histories, artworks, and theories themselves? In other words,
perhaps it is the very encounter between theory and practice in our own work
(whether explicit or implicit) that we (as theorists, artists, and
activists,) should be engaged with more closely, both theoretically and

Since the conference revolves around the interrogation of the boundaries
between the conceptual objects of theory and practice, we emphatically
encourage submissions from the widest range of disciplines. These
‘disciplines’ can range from and/or cross the academic and artistic to the
political. The conference and workshops will be structured along three main
concepts in which to think or work through the practicing of theory and the
theorizing of practice. Submissions can address any of the three themes
mentioned below and/or their interrelation in the context of the many
possible intersections between theory and practice.

Whether as practice or theoretical object, imagining provides a particularly
rich site for exploring the generative tensions encountered in practicing
theory. The political importance of fantasy as a means of preventing the
foreclosure of the real and enabling the assertion of new possibilities in
the face of restrictive ‘norms’ is evident. However, the injunction to
‘imagine’ can also serve to construct an ‘other’ that masks lines of
communality which might themselves provide a source for new political
strategies. Possible questions that could be raised under this theme regard
the relation of the imagination to knowledge production. Is the imagination
a form of freedom, for instance? Or is it already to a certain extent
constrained by others? What does the practice of imagining tell us about who
or what (subjects, institutions, images, etc etc) is doing the imagining and
thus about agency and authority? Could one say there is such a thing as
ethical or responsible imagination?

Resistance can often bring to mind an image of mass demonstrations or
underground movements [[ as simple phenomena]. At the very least, resistance
seems to suggest conflict and disagreement. However, if it is, as some
theorists have argued (Laclau, Rancière, Butler, Chambers), extremely
difficult, if not impossible to articulate one’s grievances in terms that
break away from the dominant discourse one seeks to oppose, to what extent
can we imagine other possibilities of legibility? In addition, there is also
resistance in the supposed binary opposition between theory and practice. To
what extent do these two notions resist each other? And what about the
resistance of certain objects, media or theories to analysis? These and
other questions will be raised in relation to this theme.

The notion of remembering plays a pivotal role in doing research. What is
considered memorable enough to be archived and what is not, for instance,
has enormous repercussions on the collection and analysis of research
material. Also, the media used to preserve these ‘memories’ are crucial in
this respect, since memory could be said to construct the objects we locate
in the present. This also raises the question of the temporal distance
between so-called current events and their analysis on a theoretical basis
which often comes afterwards. This theme seeks to question and critique the
notion of remembering by investigating, such concepts as ‘preposterous
history’, the future anterior and how selective remembering and forgetting
can play a crucial role in the construction of discourses and the creation
of communities.

Those selected to participate will be asked to provide a 4000 word paper
(excluding bibliography) by 15 December 2010, so that the papers can be distributed among the participants in the panel in advance of the workshop. In order to allow for a sufficient amount of discussion time, papers will not be read.
Instead, participants will be asked to provide a short summary of their
argument or to respond to another panelist’s paper for a maximum of 15
minutes. Please note that we also welcome performances or exhibitions.

Proposals should be sent before 15 September 2010 to:

Dr. Eloe Kingma (Managing Director)
Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis
Email: asca-fgw@uva.nl

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