Unruly Borders: March 1-3 2024

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Department of English 17th Annual Graduate Student Conference, University of Ottawa

Call for Papers

Unruly Borders 

“Borders are set up to define the places that are safe and unsafe, to distinguish us from them. A border is a dividing line, a narrow strip along a steep edge. A borderland is a vague and undetermined place created by the emotional residue of an unnatural boundary. It is in a constant state of transition. The prohibited and forbidden are its inhabitants.” Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Borderlands/La Frontera 

The English Graduate Students Association of the University of Ottawa is excited to review your submissions for our 2024 Conference 

Borders demarcate relations, often serving to protect people, environments and institutions from violence and prejudice. Whereas borders can create a sense of communal belonging and protect marginalized members of society, they can likewise insulate privilege and obscure the disenfranchised. By necessity, the border-defining process produces archives completed by liminal differentiation according to the archiver.  

Neither archives nor borders are static; they are in a constant state of flux. Archives attempt to document, classify, and account for our world which changes just as frequently. How do we critically engage with the contradictions of joyful belonging and violent oppression that constitute the borders of our lives? What are the effects of these imaginary yet tangible divisions on our ways of knowing, and when is it time to modify, enforce, or reject them? Ultimately, how might we (re)construct borders with empathy and approach archival productions of difference with compassion?

Works may address but are not limited to:

(Un)natural Topography:

  • ‘protected’
  • ecosystems
  • liminal
  • spaces
  • human-made
  • enclosures
  • cartography


  • reality
  • & fiction
  • gatekeeping 
  • academization 


  • (un)paid labour
  • the domestic sphere 
  • non/normativity

Autonomy & Nationalism: 

  • settler colonialism 
  • policing identity
  • bodies & pathologization
  •  segregation
  •  gentrification

 In an effort to resist definitive borders, works in any narrative form, and concerning any era, are welcome. This includes spoken, written, recorded, and remembered narratives of academic and non-academic origin. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to uottawa.conference@gmail.com by 15 February 2024. Presentations of 15-20 minutes are encouraged. Please include a biography of no more than 300 words with your submission. The EGSA’s goal is to make space for dynamic, interdisciplinary conversations. 

“For an incomplete archive to speak with the fullness of a voice, it has to be created, not out of nothing but out of the debris of information, on the very site of the ruins, the remains and traces left behind by those who passed away. For this to happen … [i]t must provide them with a home or place where they might be at peace.” Achille Mbembe, Necropolitics 

This conference will be held on the unceded lands of the Anishinaabe Algonquin People in the settler colonial city of Ottawa. Panels will be multi-modal to ensure that individuals from all parts of humanity can contribute, participate, and learn together.