Aftermaths: Revolution and Recovery

full name / name of organization: 
Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism

Aftermaths: Revolution and Recovery
An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
at the University of Western Ontario, Canada

On 17 December 2010, Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi performed an act of self-immolation in protest of widespread state corruption. Galvanized by Bouazizi's gesture of dissent, Tunisians protested en masse, successfully demanding the removal of the oppressive regime in power. The Tunisian experience inspired what would come to be known as the Arab Spring, threatening the overthrow of totalitarian regimes across the Middle East, most notably in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. While the Western mainstream media hypocritically debated the pros and cons of democratic self-determination in the Arab world, Europe and North America saw the eruption of similar acts of resistance in their own backyards, from the "Los Indignados" of Spain to the Occupy Wall Street movements of America, Canada, and the UK. While it is still too soon to gauge the lasting historical legacy of today's political activism, one thing is for certain: Revolution is back as an historically viable concept of political praxis, laying to rest once and for all (we hope) Fukuyama's thesis on the end of history.

Alongside these political upheavals, tragic events of the last 20 years—from Rwandan Genocide in 1994 to the World Trade Centre attacks in 2001—reveal the necessity to address the ways in which large-scale violence and catastrophe affect both individual lives and socio-political conditions. The recent turn to trauma theory in both theoretical discourses and artistic practices indicate what Derrida might call a burning desire to understand not only the political but also the psychic effects of these events. From scientific databases (Medline, PsychINFO, and P.I.L.O.T.S) to contemporary installation art (Christian Boltanski's Personnes and Alfredo Jaar's Rwanda Project) to literary representations (W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz and Toni Morrison's Beloved), we see the pressure to develop a new set of conceptual tools with which to understand, archive, and interpret the aftermaths of such historical trauma. The Fourth Annual Graduate Conference of the Centre for the Study of Theory and Criticism at the University of Western Ontario aims to discuss, challenge, and reveal new theoretical and artistic perspectives on both revolution and recovery in the aftermath of violent events.

We are now seeking submissions that address the effects of political oppression and the trauma of violent events from perspectives within the social sciences and the arts and humanities. Topics of discussion could include, but are not limited to:

- Revolution as symptom
- Revolution as radical democratic intervention
- Trauma and resistance
- Global capitalism and the fetish of liberal democracy
- Media representations of political violence and catastrophe
- International responses to disaster
- Ideological appropriations of traumatic events in political discourses
- Artistic representations of political violence and its aftermaths
- Theoretical, practical, and artistic responses to revolution and recovery
- Representations of revolution
- The Politics of Recovery
- Re-conceptualizing the Left

In welcoming cross-disciplinary approaches, the conference Aftermaths: Revolution and Recovery will engage in dialogues about contemporary understandings of state oppression and the means to both understand and actualize effective responses to it through collective action.

We invite submissions in English or French from graduate students in any relevant discipline. We accept proposals for:
- Academic papers [Presentation of 20 minutes]
- Panel topics: If submitting a panel suggestion, please provide 3 linked abstracts with a short paragraph explaining the overarching theme.
- Artworks [visual and performance]: please submit a digital copy of visual art via email/CD, and a description of performance art.
- Film [short and feature length]: please submit a digital copy via email/CD.

Abstract submissions (250 words), accompanied by a brief academic biography (50-100 words), should be sent to no later than February 20th 2012.

The Graduate conference will be held from May 10th - 12th, 2012 at The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.