The Futures of Postcolonial Thought: Desire and Collectivity

deadline for submissions: 
April 15, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Association of Postcolonial thought

Focusing on the interplay between “Desire and Collectivity,” the third symposium of The Association of Postcolonial Thought gestures to the many political, personal, and affective drives that structure our orientation to the past and to the possibilities of the present. It likewise speculates about the collectivities such desires engender and the futures they call into being. While the 2022 APT rubric, “Anticolonialism as Theory,” reconsidered the past through the foundations of postcolonial thought, and the 2023 APT topic, “Crisis,” contemplated the calamities of our present, the 2024 theme asks us to envision the possibilities of what could be. Welcoming postcolonial approaches to gender and sexuality in particular, we invite promiscuous provocations from the humanities and social sciences into postcolonial imaginaries that might lift us from the impasses of the present into more viable futures.

Centering untimely and unruly desires for different, more habitable, worlds requires reimagining forms of collectivity. In a present marked by climate crisis, ongoing settler colonialism and war, increasing gender- and sexuality-based violence, ethno-national and religious fundamentalisms, and a rise in racial, ethnic, and economic inequality, what forms of collective action are possible? What new forms of desire and collectivity might obtain from the lessons of ongoing postcolonial crises and struggles? Finally, how might these desires and collectivities prepare us for a future we cannot know, but for which we must be ready?

Contemporary postcolonial thought is not limited to a focus on the relationship of the European metropole to the Afro/Caribbean/South Asian colony and postcolony; it addresses contemporary formations of US imperialism, South-South exchange, and Indigenous sovereignty. Within this expansive frame, we invite papers that explore such topics as: postcolonial and/or transnational feminist imaginaries and solidarities; postcolonial solarpunk, postcolonial futurisms, Latinx and Afro-futurisms; eco-socialist imaginaries; desire and social reproduction; postcolonial affects and their afterlives; psychoanalysis and postcoloniality; Indigeneity and Indigenous futures; postcolonial ecologies and the environmental humanities; reproduction and the new eugenics; postcolonial disabilities and Crip theory; theories of war, violence, genocide, and trauma; queer and trans geographies; the desires of global protest movements; forms of refusal, redress, and reparation; desires for abolition, annihilation, and revolution; the uses of the erotic; embodiment and artifice; human rights and sexual justice; digital colonialism, new media, and the digital commons.

We welcome submissions in three formats:

1. Individual papers on Desire and Collectivity

Please submit an abstract of 750-1000 words and a brief bio to by April 15, 2024. We will prioritize papers that are conceptually ambitious and comparative, rather than papers focusing on narrow textual analysis or modest claims.

2. Keywords for Postcolonial Thought

Speakers are invited to propose a new keyword for postcolonialism in the twenty-first century, with the goal of laying the intellectual groundwork for a revitalized postcolonial analysis, responsive to the urgency of the present. These are lightning talks of 5 minutes each, which do not provide a reading of a text or rehash outdated debates, but operate at a conceptual level. Please submit your keyword, a 300-word abstract, and a brief bio to by April 15, 2024

3. Roundtables

Fully constituted roundtable sessions (of up to six participants) are also welcome, and are encouraged to include participants from different institutions, disciplines, ranks, and geopolitical foci. Roundtables should explore a particular question or concept and speakers should respond to the questions in a coherent conversation, rather than read out short papers. Please submit your roundtable topic, question, or concept, a 750-word abstract for the roundtable, and brief bios for each of the participants to by April 15, 2024.

The symposium, organized and hosted by Yogita Goyal (UCLA), Rachel Mordecai (UMass Amherst), and Asha Nadkarni (UMass Amherst), with collaboration from the World Studies Interdisciplinary Project,, will be held September 26-28, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst/Five Colleges. This event is the third in a sequence planned by the Association of Postcolonial Thought and is aimed at fostering the future of the field. Abstracts are due April 15, 2024 and should be sent as a single Word document or PDF with the file name lastname.firstname. Decisions will be sent by June 15. There are no association or registration fees required, and all events are free and open to the public.

APT symposia are intended to provide maximum space for dialogue and collaboration, and are built around conviviality and intellectual exchange. Speakers should plan to attend and participate in the entire symposium and contact the organizers early on with any complications.