Alternative Art/Economics — Economies of Dispossession

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Conference Call from Art History MA Program of OCAD University

Graduate Conference: OCAD University, Toronto ON

Economies of Dispossession, March 13-14, 2020

Dispossession, by virtue of its lack of “possession,” implies a placement outside of the structures of ownership and value on which global economies are predicated—to be dispossessed is to be an economic outsider. Nevertheless, it is a constant and growing threat: dispossession due to the climate crisis and environmental racism; the mass dispossession of bodies from their homelands due to civil unrest or state brutality; the consistent refusal of colonial nations to concede land to their original custodians; and neoliberal moves that render every cultural worker, artist and student economically precarious and bound to debt. These forms of dispossession are made profitable under disaster capitalism. Yet to speak of dispossession still foregrounds possession in an exchange system based on privatized ownership.

New systems of evaluation, new circulations of making, thinking, doing, and new modes of exchange are necessitated, in which dispossession might be a nucleus for positive, resistant, and insurrectionary models. While art is easily co-opted by the dominant economy, cultural workers of all stripes are at the forefront of this work today.

We ask:

  • How can alternative economies, or standpoints of dispossession, be strategic spaces for rethinking anti-capitalist and anti-colonial resistance?
  • How can Indigenous ways of knowing and doing give rise to understandings of anti-capitalist and anti-colonial economies?
  • How do we conceptualize dispossession while remaining sensitive to its differences?
  • How do we de-center ownership in our practices of learning, writing, and making?  
  • What does psychic dispossession look like? How is it reflected in contemporary practices?
  • How might land-based practices, or urban tactics, either resist or manifest spatial dimensions of dispossession?
  • How can the digital provide a way out of psychic and spatial dispossessions? How do digital projects either reflect or seek to move beyond dispossession?
  • What is the role of art and making in setting up alternative paradigms to the social, the political, the economic, and the cultural?
  • How do the very institutions (universities, galleries, museums, etc.) that make space to think through these issues, also profit from them?

This conference invites papers that deal with questions around forced or chosen dispossession, alternative economies and creative responses to global economic paradigms. Proposals should be sent to by December 15, 2019. In the body of the email please include your name, institutional affiliation (independent scholars welcome too), and a short biography (100 words or less). Please attach your abstract (300 words or less) with a title and a short list of keywords as a PDF file, and indicate in your email if you are interested in publishing your presentation in a paper format in a conference journal (title TBD). We invite art historians and theoreticians, artists, designers and curators to apply, as well as scholars from outside of the discipline thinking through art or creative practice. We also encourage non-traditional, experimental, and performative forms of presentation. Presentations should be 13-15 minutes in length. Presenters will be selected through a blind jury process. Presenters must be interested in and comfortable with an interdisciplinary conversation between other panelists. The keynote lecture (TBA) and social will be held Friday March 13th at the OCAD U main campus building, 100 McCaul room 109, with the conference to follow, Saturday March 14th. Selected speakers will be notified by January 6, 2020.