Bodies of Power / Theory in the Flesh - A Graduate Student Confernce

deadline for submissions: 
June 7, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Women's and Gender Studies - Rutgers University
contact email: 

Bodies of Power / Theory in the Flesh

Graduate Student Conference
Women’s and Gender Studies
Rutgers University – New Brunswick
Alexander Library
5 October 2018

Confirmed Speakers:
C. Riley Snorton, Cornell University
Nicole Fleetwood, Rutgers University
Kyla Schuller, Rutgers University

In This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, Cherríe Moraga formulates theory in the flesh to elucidate the ways lived experience anchors woman of color critiques. In exploring how the flesh is a surface from which we can trace emergent material realities, Moraga situates the body at the nexus of systems of power and as a critical method of theorizing other possibilities for being. The Graduate Program of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers invites graduate and advanced undergraduate submissions to our conference, Bodies of Power / Theory in the Flesh. We are interested in proposals that explore the relations between the body / flesh, systems of power, and methods of study.

Alongside Moraga’s theory in the flesh, scholars have also grappled with the body in relation to power, particularly in reworking Michel Foucault’s work on the body as subjectified through a wide array of technologies. Further departing from the eurocentricity of the western episteme, scholars have refigured Foucault’s theories of power to recenter race and colonialism as central to the formation of biopolitics. Extending these reformulations of biopolitics, we wish to consider the ways in which different theoretical lenses allow the body, broadly construed, to be approached from different geographic and social locations. What bodies of knowledge are constituted through power? How might tuning into subjugated knowledges allow for different modes of apprehending how power operates in and through the body?

Our conference also aims to interrogate the the givennesss or universality of such flesh. How do Black feminist conceptions of bodies and flesh push the boundaries, or altogether disrupt, the traditional epistemologies and ontologies of “Western Man”? We invite work that thereby engages Hortense Spillers’ theories of monstrosity, the captive body, and/or hieroglyphics of the flesh. What are the potential frictions that arise when one considers ‘the body’ alongside and/or in opposition to the flesh? How might these frameworks help us imagine, as Sylvia Wynter urges us to, different genres of the human? In moving through these multiple frames and registers, we seek to explore more capacious approaches to understandings of embodiment, flesh, power, and the contemporary moment.

Given this focus on methods and multidisciplinarity, we invite presentations that address theories of the body / flesh from the following angles:

  • Black Feminist Theories
  • Decolonial, Anticolonial, & Postcolonial Thought
  • Biopolitics / Biopower / Necropower
  • Affect / Assemblage / Materiality
  • Social, Political, & Cultural Movements
  • Spirituality / Healing
  • Indigeneity / Indigenous Feminism / Settler Colonialism
  • Critical Psychoanalysis
  • Trans / Queer Analytics
  • Disability / Embodiment / Bodyminds
  • Sex / Sexuality / Fucking
  • Lived Experience & Narrative
  • Visual Art / Music / Performance
  • Temporalities / Spatialities
  • Methodologies / Theories / Pedagogies / (Inter)disciplinarity

We invite submissions from graduate and advanced undergraduate students for papers and artistic works addressing any of these themes. The deadline for abstract submissions is Thursday June 7th, 2018. Please submit the title and abstract (200-300 words), short biographical statement (up to 100 words) of the presenter, institutional affiliation, and any technical assistance required to our online submission form.

Submissions will be evaluated by standard conference review process; a group of graduate students from Women’s and Gender Studies will make decisions regarding proposals and panels. Decisions will be communicated by the end of June 2018. If you have any questions before or after submitting a proposal, please contact us at

We welcome you to join us in these conversations, and we look forward to your contributions!

– WGS Graduate Conference Planning Committee & WGS Graduate Student Association

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Twitter: @WGSRutgersU