CFP: Commitment and Complicity (Netherlands) (10/15/05; 3/29/06-3/31/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Graebner, C.M.E.
contact email: 

Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity

Knowledge, Politics, Cultural Production

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 Keynote Speakers: Prof. Elleke Boehmer, Prof. Rey Chow and =
Prof. Timothy Brennan.
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, =91individuality=92, =91freedom=92 and =
=91choice=92 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.

* We encourage contributions surrounding, but by no means limited to, =
the following questions:

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 =91object=92 =
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 =91human =
rights=92 and =91freedom of thought=92. 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?

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 =91committed=92 cultural artifacts become expressions of =
complicity? Is there such a thing as a =91committed=92 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?

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=92s =
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
* Practicalities: 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 =93Commitment =
in the Humanities.=94

*The workshop format of the conference is designed to stimulate =
discussion in the panels. Instead of =93reading=94 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. Please send your one-page =
proposal, accompanied by a short CV, by October 15th 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. Keynote speakers are to be announced.

* 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.
Phone: +31 20 525 3874.
Fax: +3120 525 3052.
Email: <>.
Website: <>.

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Received on Sun Jul 03 2005 - 14:00:34 EDT