Rethinking Space Beyond the Pandemic

deadline for submissions: 
May 10, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Language, Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies
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Rethinking Space Beyond the Pandemic


The present epoch will perhaps be above all the epoch of space.
— Michel Foucault

Since Descartes’s introduction of material space as res-extensa and Kant’s following declaration of space and time as absolute categories framing all objective experience, philosophy and literature over the centuries, especially in twentieth century, have significantly reformulated the idea of space from an absolute to a relational entity. While Enlightenment thinkers’ theorization worked as the groundswell for Modern perspectives on space, their conceptualization of objective absolute space is disputed by twentieth century as Einstein foregrounds space in relative terms. This conceptualization of space as relative covers a broad spectrum of philosophical discursive practices—Bachelard evokes space as a subjective category situated in the human psyche; Habermas formulates the concept of space as ‘public sphere’ within history that safeguards public opinion; and Foucault finds the concept of “space” itself contingent upon the vagaries of history and power structures. Correspondingly, works of art also pose a similar challenge to the concept of absolute space—Cezanne’s challenge to fixed notions of space in post-impressionist period; non-representative paintings of Mondrian that experiment with Cartesian grid, Cubism of Picasso and Braque; and abstract paintings of Kandinsky that dismantle spatiality of pyramidal composition with geometric figures. Extensive historical vicissitudes have introduced us to dynamic conceptions of space within different areas of thought: political sphere through Jean-Luc Nancy, gender relations through Irigaray and Butler, geographical mapping through David Harvey and Edward Soja, sociological dimensions through Benjamin, Arendt, Lefebvre, and the philosophy of ‘other’ space through Deleuze and Guattari.

The skein of discussions on space, among other conceptualizations, incorporate the anxiety of the individual through ever renewing scrutinies. With the coming of COVID-19 pandemic, individual anxieties and their relation with space continue to challenge the conventional cornerstones of contemporary discourses. Faced with a viral disease where ‘social distancing’ is perhaps the only protection one can afford, concept of space takes on meanings that are yet to be explored. Conceptualizing relative space gets problematized as spaces with intersubjective foundations—associated with intimacy and communal co-existence—are now under the radar of constant self-surveillance. Moreover, not only the dynamics of personal and public are put on trial, but the habituated ways in which we engage with the world through our body stand altered. The non-relationality to space that surrounds us comes with a disrupted perception of individual selfhood that remains contingent upon the restrictions imposed on movement and isolation that have affected the scope of assimilating the social with the personal.

Integrating the spatial turn in the latter half of twentieth century with our current reality allows a reevaluation of existing contours of research across a range of registers—philosophy, geography, physics, architecture, history, religion, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and literature.  How do we undertake the existential dynamics of space in view of the pandemic which commands our actions, and thereby shapes our ethics? What would be the new proxemics of the emerging epoch amongst these changing conceptions of space? How does space shape intersubjective relations, community, and society? How does the agency of body, as a spatial dimension, alter in its ‘lived’ aspect? How can we understand the new vulnerability of body? How does the pandemic play with secular and sacred spaces? What happens to hierarchies of space? How will economics take into account this spatial recalibration of world affairs? How does it impact the geopolitical landscape?

As the discourse over space assumes a new urgency and vigour, Language, Literature, and Interdisciplinary Studies calls for papers that raise discussions over space in its relation to interpretations of selfhood along physical, social, digital, and pandemic dimensions as well as its various ramifications manifesting with the new ways of relating with space.

Scholars may engage with as well as beyond the following themes:

  • New Forms of living and place of space
  • Spatial forms in literature
  • Ethics of survival and care
  • Community living and social distancing
  • Heterotopic spaces
  • Spatial turn and Pandemic
  • Medical Humanities and Space
  • Mourning and existential space
  • Health-Care and COVID-19
  • Space of the body in pandemic
  • Body at the intersection of physical and digital
  • Space of/and alienation
  • Pandemic and political space
  • Space and psychosomatic illness
  • Ustopia and worldmaking
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) and literary studies
  • COVID-19 tracing applications and surveillance
  • Geocriticism


Only complete papers will be considered for publication. The papers need to be submitted according to the guidelines of the MLA 8th edition. You are welcome to submit full length papers (3,500–10,000 words) along with a 150 words abstract and list of keywords. Please read the submission guidelines before making the submission –
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Submission deadline: 15th April, 2021

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