Communities of Distance
From the global to the individual level, our sense of community has undergone a profound transformation within just a couple years. Where it once suggested closeness and intimacy, community now paradoxically demands that we maintain a healthy distance from one another—each one of us a monad tucked away in our respective homes, our old sources of community displaced as they transition to virtual formats. We even maintain patterns of disciplined isolation to protect the health and safety of those whom we would otherwise not need to consider. Arguably, however, this is a distance many of us have long been acquainted with, working as we do in narrow subfields that are radically dissimilar even to those of our closest peers—the members of our actual intellectual circles spread across countries and continents.
Motivated by the effects distance has had on communities both in and out of academia, the 2022 graduate student conference hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Comparative Thought and Literature, “Communities of Distance,” will welcome a variety of papers that speak to any of the many intersections of these two topics. Participants may submit papers that examine literary texts and art objects or works of philosophy and theory, and are encouraged but not required to draw from the following topics: questions on associations of nations and nationalism in an increasingly cosmopolitan world; more broadly philosophical or phenomenological questions on the meaning of community as such, harking back to the work done by the late Jean-Luc Nancy and his circle in the 1980s and ‘90s, in relation to universality and identity politics; or the impact of the climate crisis and COVID-19 on varied communities, especially the rhetoric of post-truth that has flourished alongside both of these ecological/public health catastrophes. Such papers might draw on the work of Bruno Latour, Martha Nussbaum, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Maurice Blanchot, Benedict Anderson, Edward Said, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Stanley Cavell, or Elizabeth Anscombe, to name just a few.
To participate, please submit a Word file with a 250-word abstract and brief author bio to firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submissions is December 15th, 2021, applicants will hear back from the conference organizers by January 1st, 2022 at the latest, and the conference will be held on February 18th and 19th online.