Workshop on 'Corporeal Capitalism: Body Matters in IPE'

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University of Birmingham
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Call for papers

Workshop on 'Corporeal Capitalism: Body Matters in IPE'
(Wednesday 17 April 2013, University of Birmingham)

'The body' has emerged as a central concern across the social sciences and humanities, spawning a substantial and multifaceted literature in a range of disciplines such as sociology, law, cultural studies, philosophy, psychology, criminology, geography and history. Yet in the field of International Political Economy the body remains, on the whole, conspicuous by its absence. Indeed, as Charlotte Hooper remarked more than a decade ago, it is 'supremely ironic' that a discipline so concerned with the material needs of physical bodies should have been built around abstractions from, not explorations of, embodied social contexts (2000: 31). Feminist scholarship – albeit by no means exclusively – has been at the forefront of attempts to take issues of embodiment seriously within IPE. In particular, it has highlighted how globalisation and capitalism are not 'out there' phenomena that are materially or analytically separable from actually-existing human lives but, quite the contrary, 'impact directly and often violently on the bodies of actual people' (Pettman, 2000: 52). This special issue takes up calls by feminist scholars to regard the body as central to – indeed, a critical starting point for – the theory and practice of the international political economy. In short, we believe the study of IPE 'as if bodies mattered' can add new and hugely significant theoretical, methodological and empirical insights to the field.

This workshop will consider both how and why bodies 'matter' in the international political economy and also how bodies might be positioned more centrally within IPE as a discipline. It has three inter-related aims: first, to interrogate how political and economic processes are inscribed, imprinted and circulated on bodies (Penttinen, 2008); second, to examine how bodies represent 'sites of contestation' with respect to both power and resistance in the international political economy (Harcourt 2009: 22); and, third, to consider what (the erasure and inclusion of) bodies can tell us about the disciplinary terrain of International Political Economy itself.

The organisers are looking for submissions that address these conceptual, methodological, empirical and normative issues from a from a diversity of disciplinary perspectives and which take an original, critical approach to the study of body politics within the context of broader debates surrounding globalisation, capitalism and neo-liberalism.

Possible topics include (but are by no means restricted too):

* Capitalism and feminist theory
* Queering and/or transgendering IPE
* The political economy of reproduction and reproductive technologies
* The political economy of eating, hunger and food
* The political economy of beauty, ageing, dis/ability
* Virtual economies and the body in cyberspace
* Neo-liberalism and embodied subjectivities
* Globalisation and bio-ethics
* The commodification of bodies and body parts
* International sex tourism, migration and human trafficking
*White privilege and the economics of racism
* Grey sexual economies
* Medicalisation and capitalism
* Bio-power and the welfare state
* Neo-liberalism and abortion politics
* Economic crisis and social reproduction

Please send a title, abstract of around 350 words and a brief biography to Nicola Smith ( or Donna Lee ( by 21 December 2012. Successful abstract submissions will be notified by January 30, 2013.

We are planning to co-edit a special issue of a leading IPE journal based on this theme – if you are unable to attend the workshop but would still like your paper to be considered for inclusion in the special issue, please contact Nicola or Donna.

Please note: We have some (very limited!) funds to support this workshop, so there will be no fee to attend and we can provide accommodation for all paper-givers plus make a contribution towards your travel expenses of up to £50 (for those travelling from within the UK) and £100 (for those travelling from outside the UK).

Nicola Smith is Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Birmingham whose work is broadly concerned with globalisation discourse and social justice. Key publications include Showcasing globalisation: the political economy of the Irish Republic (Manchester University Press, 2005), Global social justice (Routledge, 2010, co-edited with Heather Widdows), Body/state (Ashgate, 2012, co-edited with Angus Cameron and Jen Dickinson) and special issues of the journals The Round Table, Journal of Global Ethics and Sexualities. Nicola has recently undertaken a Leverhulme funded project on the political economy of male and transgender sex work in the UK and is completing a research monograph on this theme for Palgrave.

Donna Lee is Professor in Political Economy and Diplomacy at the University of Birmingham. She is author of numerous books, articles, and chapters on the political economy of international trade. She is currently series editor (with Paul Sharp) of the Palgrave Series Diplomacy & International Relations, and has been/is currently a member of the editorial board of several journals. She has also edited special issues for a number of journals including The International Journal of Diplomacy & Economy, The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs, and Third World Quarterly