Cultural Studies in the Interregnum--CFP for Edited Volume
Abstract proposals due by July 15, 2021 (submission form)
“Each generation must discover its mission, fulfill it or betray it, in relative opacity.” – Frantz Fanon1
“[T]here are no ’absolute beginnings’ and few unbroken continuities….What is important are the significant breaks—where old lines of thought are disrupted, older constellations displaced, and elements, old and new, are regrouped around a different set of premises and themes.” – Stuart Hall2
As a space between or a gap that spans epochs or regimes, the interregnum offers an opportunity for responsive activist-intellectual work during times of social transformation. An interregnum is most often associated with general uncertainty, a lack of collective political will, and an opaque horizon concealing abysmal futures. Equally, an interregnum can offer radically new conditions of possibility. Such work is exemplified in the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies’ 1978 volume Policing the Crisis, written in the period between the New Left and Thatcherism, between the new social movements of the 1960s and 70s and the rise of authoritarian populism in the 1980s. Work that addresses the interregnum both names an emerging period and aims to intervene in it.
Theorizing the interregnum does not produce simplistic historical teleologies. Homi Bhaba argues that periodization projects must be considered carefully because of the relationships they illuminate between past and present: “‘New’ national, international, or global emergences create an unsettling sense of transition, as if history is at a turning point; and it is in such incubational moments—Antonio Gramsci’s word for the perceived ‘newness’ of change—that we experience the palimpsestical imprints of past, present, and future.”3 And Christina Sharpe considers continuities across periods, particularly of the afterlives of slavery, as the foundation for “wake work…a mode of inhabiting and rupturing this episteme with our known lived and un/imaginable lives.”4 Though interregna are crises and broad in scope, at the same time they are radically contextual and experiential. If, as Fanon notes, the interregnum is marked both by opacity and the inevitability of acting, then theorizing the current moment as a process of history tests uncertain possibilities and demands a future.
As a form of inquiry, cultural studies is distinctively situated to attend to history in process, to address both the organizing patterns of culture (such as in art, media, production, labor, finance, politics, affiliations, social movements, and norms) and the lived experience of those patterns (“structures of feeling”). Cultural studies’ material interrogation of culture has a history shaped by its involvement with post-war labor struggles, new social movements, alter- and anti-globalization struggles, and contemporary uprisings against austerity, white supremacy, and impending environmental disaster. With focus on the relationships between system and person, field and habitus, and totalities and subjects, cultural studies employs a robust historical materialism that seeks to chart and even change systems as they are lived. By thinking the interregnum, we can position cultural studies and also the left to confront the shifting guise of power, and create a model for collective scholarship during crises.
How do we understand “interregnum” and are we in one now? What continuities threaten to span the interregnum, and how do they persist or might they be countered? Or, what interregna define our present, and how can cultural studies conceptualize them? This volume asks authors to consider the intensive and complex array of contradictions and overdeterminations that populate the current moment, what led us here, and, perhaps, what lies ahead.
The editorial team at Lateral, the journal of the Cultural Studies Association, are editing a volume and call for chapters of 4,000 to 7,000 words, as well as shorter provocations, case studies, and observations from the field. We are particularly interested in those contributions that trace a genealogy of the recent past to help analyze the present and point toward a future that may or may not arrive. We seek contributions that assume a strategic posture and that consider the interregnum as it might be experienced from various social positions and sites around the world. We welcome contributors from various theoretical approaches, fields, and disciplines, whether they be humanistic, social-scientific, or, at times, outside of liberal arts proper. In addressing this call, some may find evidence or symptoms of the interregnum in political unrest, electoral politics, leftist and populist movements, emergent economic models, and new platforms—among other regimes of order—while others may look to literature, arts, film, music, or other cultural artifacts.
Contributions might read the interregnum through:
- Abolitionist organizing and transformative justice work;
- Global feminist and LGBTQ movements;
- New left publishing and publishers;
- Decolonization, land-back, and reparations movements;
- Big tech, platforms, and (digital) labor;
- The formal, informal, and survival economies of sex work;
- Trans materialities and modalities of existence;
- Disabled, mad, chronically ill, fat, and D/deaf and HoH representations, and Disability Justice organizing;
- Environmental racism and its counter-movements;
- Labor struggles, automation, and the gig economy;
- Mergers, monopolies, and cryptocurrencies;
- Mass incarceration and the Prison-Industrial Complex;
- State counter-organizing, surveillance, and policing;
- The changing conditions of anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian racism;
- National and international populist movements;
- Economic and financial crisis, crises of capitalism;
- Warfare, militarization, and its aftereffects;
- Theorizing the interregnum itself
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to the editors by July 15, 2021 through this submission form.
Submission of Abstracts – 15 July 2021
Editorial Feedback on Submissions – 15 August 2021
Submission of Draft Chapters – 2022
- Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Richard Philcox (New York: Grove Press, 2004), 145. ↩
- Hall, “Cultural Studies: Two Paradigms,” Culture, Media, and Society 2 (1980): 57–72, 57 ↩
- Bhaba, “Foreword: Framing Fanon,” in Wretched of the Earth, xvi, emphasis in original. ↩
- Sharpe, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), 18, emphasis in original. ↩