Paranoid Encounters

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
New School For Social Research Philosophy Department

The New School for Social Research, Philosophy Graduate Conference

Paranoid Encounters


It is difficult to deny that our age has come to be haunted by paranoia. One can point to prevailing anxieties over the exoticized other, which sustain contemporary expressions of racism and xenophobia; the hysterical unmooring of truth from value and facticity implied in the rise of “alternative facts” and post-truth politics; the pervasiveness of state surveillance and control; the daily reality of spontaneous violence and terroristic death; as well as the looming ecocide and an end to all things human. The world today confronts us as absurd and unfamiliar, plagued by specters of the phantasmatic and dystopic. What was once dystopic fantasy has become mundane reality.  If philosophy aims at rationality and paranoia is understood as profound irrationality, how are we to think the contemporary paranoiac conjuncture philosophically?


Though paranoia skews the human experience towards skepticism, fear, doubt, and anxiety, we propose that there is something to be garnered from this perverse condition.  Just as philosophy often asserts reality may not always be as it immediately appears, the mechanisms underlying paranoia expose the fragile ground of our relations to reality and unveil the ever-present possibility of seismic shifts in our worldly orientations. We wish to question the all-too-certain and all-too-grounded by inquiring after the possibility and utility of a philosophy of paranoia for our times. The stakes are both epistemic and political: how can philosophy come to think the irrationality of the modern experience, and to what end can this thought be enlisted? Does philosophy itself perhaps possess a paranoiac structure?

What is philosophy’s role in understanding and combating the paranoiac deluge?


This is the space we intend to inhabit at this year’s New School for Social Research philosophy student graduate conference. We invite submissions from students and scholars who address these general themes, whether from the perspective of philosophy or that of the other social sciences.


We welcome visual and performance artists, as well as filmmakers working with the theme of paranoia to submit works for consideration.


possible topics include but are not limited to

paranoia as an episteme or anti-episteme.

the relationship between rationality and the other.

critiques of rationalism and the enlightenment.

the nature of paranoia, fear, and the other.

paranoia and/as social criticism.

the phenomenology of paranoia, fear, doubt, anxiety, and/or fantasy.

the political epistemology of conspiracy theories.

paranoia in psychology and psychoanalysis.

paranoia and political ontology.

paranoia in film, literature, and visual art.

paranoid underpinnings of the structures of domination and oppression.

social pathologies and critical theory.


full papers for a 20-25 min presentation, 3,000 words max

films / performances / artistic research with description of 150-250 words

+ if possible, a portfolio


format for blind review; submit as PDF by january 1st


keynote: adrian johnston (univ. new mexico)