Conscripted Subjects: Disciplined Society, Critique, and the Humanities (grad), Feb 23-25, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Department of Comparative Literature, UCLA
contact email: 

In light of our current moment marked by economic collapse, heightened political paranoia, racial profiling, and ubiquitous surveillance, this conference wishes to highlight the connection between states of crisis and the wider social question of the prison as a space of social production. "Discipline" as such does not simply imply policies that police subjects, but rather policies that produce them — not just in "correctional facilities," but also in the discourses and practices appropriated by universities, workplaces, hospitals, and bureaucracies. In this regard, we seek to question the normalization of the prison as a model for social relations between classes, sexes, races, and other subjectivities. The humanities have long been a central site for the critique of such disciplinary modes of social relations. While Foucault's notion of ―disciplinary society‖ has in many ways enabled this line of social critique, scholars of the humanities have since expanded it beyond its native terrain of eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe, to encompass a wide array of historical moments and geographic terrains. We therefore invite papers from all disciplines that engage with the means through which modern "subjects" have been organized, taxonomized and controlled.

Possible topics include:

- Institutionalized discipline and subject formation – schools, hospitals, government.

- Literary forms and disciplinary textual practices – forms, genres, disciplinary boundaries.

- Critical responses to the disciplinary society – discourses of critique, crisis, and secular criticism.

- Secularism – the relationship between the private/public and the sacred/profane.

- Urban design, architecture, and the disciplined organization of space, place, and mobility.

- Empire, nationalism, "terrorism," and territorial occupation.

- Visibility and subject recognition in postcolonial societies – the visibility of policed subjects vs. the invisibility of subaltern/abject subjects.

- Crime and mobility – criminality as the transgression of physical, social, and ethical boundaries.

- Police and surveillance ("Identity Cards", CCTV, legal & illegal migration).

- Prison spaces, punitive practices, & the "Prison-Industrial Complex."

- Psychoanalysis and discipline – the normal and the pathological.

- Racialized discipline and the generation of "minorities".

- Anti-disciplinary figures – the stateless (exile, refugee, nomad), the non-human (monsters, vampires, the trans-human), and the otherworldly (aliens, ghosts, the prophetic).

- Disciplinary practices and docile bodies – heteronormativity and gender forms.

- "Biopower", "Governmentality," and Continental Philosophy.

- Popular culture and the disciplined body ("boot camps", extreme body modification).

Submission deadline: October 15, 2010.

Abstracts should be between 250-350 words. All examples and quotations must be translated into English. Unaffiliated scholars are welcome. Submissions in English (in doc. format) should be sent to the following address:

There is no participation fee, and refreshments and a light lunch will be provided. Travel and accommodation is at the participants' expense. Local hotels in the area will be offering conference rates.  The date is Feb 23-25, 2011.