CFP: Rethinking Precarity (grad) (11/5/06; 1/19/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Rethinking Precarity

First Annual Graduate Student Conference
Department of Comparative Studies (
The Ohio State University Columbus, OH USA
  One-Day Conference January 19th, 2007

        Of urgent concern for philosophers, political theorists, and
activists, the twin notions of precarity and precariousness have recently
and necessarily become paradigmatic. Precarity is generally invoked to
describe the concrete state of uncertainty in which more and more of the
world finds itself, and precariousness emerged in its shadow. Figured
largely as a question of ethics, the idea of precariousness suggests our
immediate and constitutive defenselessness, and is founded on the
recognition that survival is ultimately dependent upon the continued mercy
and compassion of others, even as we seek more active interventions. These
two modes of instability can alternately coexist and converge; operating
separately or in tandem, appearing in their many incarnations, they define
the pandemic vulnerability of our world.
        Myriad potentials rest in this precariousness; we have seen, of
course, how easy it has been to react violently and destructively to the
recognition of mortality. Yet we are also free (and perhaps also ethically
bound) to pursue other avenues. Judith Butler offers one such direction in
her collection of essays, Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and
Violence; she encourages us to chart ?other passages? and emphasizes the
necessity of "reimagining the possibility of community on the basis of
vulnerability and loss."
        This is a call for graduate student papers on the subject of the
precarious, and we invite abstracts for projects that engage precarity
and/or precariousness in what Butler identifies as the constellation of
"mortality, vulnerability, agency."
        The daylong conference is scheduled to coincide with Michael Hardt's
lecture and seminar on January 18-19, 2007, organized by OSU's Working Group
for Cultural Difference and Democracy.
    We welcome papers that consider the following topics or others in terms
of their relationships to precarity and/or precariousness:

* Consumption
* The nation
* Sex and sexuality
* Activism
* Religion and faith
* Housing, dwelling, and architecture
* Science or scientism
* Confrontations with death and finitude
* Myths and folklores
* Safety and security
* Gender
* 'Natural' disasters
* Media and culture
* Art and literature
* Environmentalism
* Embodiment
* History, history, and historiography
* Language
* Identity
* Migrancy
* Visuality
* Fear and terror
* Psychoanalysis
* War and militarization

Please send 250-word abstracts for individual 20-minute papers to The deadline for submissions is
November 5th, 2006. Accepted applicants will be notified by November 30th,
2006. In the body of the e-mail, please include the following information:

Presenter(s) name(s):
Institutional affiliation(s):
Level of graduate study:
Title of paper:
Contact information:

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Received on Fri Oct 06 2006 - 15:57:44 EDT