'Practices of Critique' - International graduate conference - Frankfurt, 5-7 Dec 2013

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Cluster of Excellence "Normative Orders", Goethe University Frankfurt
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International Graduate Conference
Goethe University Frankfurt
5-7 December 2013

Call for Papers
Deadline: 15 July 2013

Practices of critique are intertwined with normative orders in manifold ways. They contain and refer reflexively to critical contentions, and they can enable as well as suppress critique. On the one hand, critique can draw on the justificatory basis of normative orders. On the other, such an immanent critique always harbours the danger of contributing to the reproduction of the conditions it questions. Further, critical practices of social movements and theoretical interventions are often confronted with the argument that there is no uncontaminated position from which to formulate critique. Accordingly, the question arises as to what forms critique will assume and under what historical, political and social conditions critique will appear at all.

In this context it is essential to reconstruct the theoretical foundations of critique and power structures as well the practices in which they are instantiated. Three aspects are crucial: firstly concrete forms of power and their application, which always emerge from a tension between normative claims and solidified systems of rule; secondly the purview of justice as the foundation for critical rationale; thirdly the aspect of representation. After all, justifications are carried via narratives as well as symbols such that they necessarily contain excess aesthetic content. Therefore the aesthetic facets of power, justice or legitimation also require attention. These terms of reference result in the following array of questions for the conference:

1) Conditions of possibility for critique
Under what circumstances do practices of critique emerge? To what extent are unjust conditions relevant? How do specific normative orders, power structures and representations of them by themselves and others affect the emergence of critique? How can we apprehend the (im-)possibility of the critique of normative orders? Are there spaces of critique that lie beyond the reach of the criticized, or is critique perpetually condemned to aporetic relations?

2) Realization of critique
In what forms does critique become manifest? What social practices are connected with critique, and how do they relate to each other, not least with regard to their respective interpretations of social reality? How can we grasp practices of critique – conceptually as well as empirically? What role do representations of critique and the criticized play in terms of its realization? Do particular forms of articulation further legitimize relations of dominance? Who is able to and who is entitled to express critique?

3) Reactions to critique
What reactions to various practices of critique, such as social movements and theoretical interventions, can we observe? Do they lead to a stabilization of power structures through conservative retrenchment or to reflexive social change towards more just relations? How does the academic reconstruction of social struggles influence the reaction towards critique? How does the representation or the mode in which orders are justified and critiqued affect the reproduction of injustice, oppression and violence?

Such questions shall be addressed from multidisciplinary perspectives at the international graduate conference “Practices of Critique” of the Frankfurt Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders” on the 5-7 December 2013. We invite abstracts from novice researchers (max. four years subsequent to receiving a PhD) until 15 July 2013. There are 23 panels (about half of them are in English) to which you may directly apply. You may also submit your abstract under the general conference theme should selecting a specific panel prove unfeasible. For further information concerning content and language of the panels visit the following website:


Please email proposed contributions to graduateconference@normativeorders.net, including an anonymized abstract and a short bio in two separate documents (doc or rtf). The subject heading of the email should include the panel of choice. The length of abstracts should be 400 - 700 words.
Child care services are available with advance registration. For further question on this and other issues, feel free to contact the organizers at the above email address. We are looking forward to your submissions!

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