CFP Soapbox Journal for Cultural Analysis: On the Uses of Absence

deadline for submissions: 
June 10, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Soapbox: Journal for Cultural Analysis

Soapbox 6.0: On the Uses of Absence

-- peer-reviewed; open to critical and artistic work; submission deadline: June 10; extended proposals --

Can we speak of a turn to absence? Across the contemporary academic conjuncture, theory is reapproaching the absent in all its varying fleshly and rhetorical forms, revalorizing ‘absence’ itself as a critical matter. Enduring scholarly investments in re-presenting and re-presencing the absented body (from the archive and media, from power and institutions, from theory and writing) have become supplemented in current critical work by an affirmative interest in staying with absence as such. We are thinking of Rizvana Bradley’s recent aesthetic analyses of the forms and shapes of the black body as the absence in ontology; of Lee Edelman’s insistence on and reappreciation of queerness as the inevitable, generative absence at the heart of the symbolic; we are thinking of the optimism attached to absence in trans studies’ reappropriation of and investment in techniques of destruction (Marquis Bey) and destitution (Jack Halberstam). The figure and body of the absent has started to matter similarly outside the academic. Absenteeism in the workplace and in university rooms are on the rise; not showing up, not producing or delivering, being absent, and withdrawal - acts such as these formalize and mobilize absence, relocate it at the heart of myriad resistances against exploitation, appropriation, assimilation, and normativity.  

For its seventh issue, Soapbox: Journal for Cultural Analysis invites (young) researchers, (established) scholars and creatives alike to submit work on the uses and aesthetics of absence in and outside of theory today. It is our point of departure that absence fails every time to be purely nothing. In all of the scenes and settings described above and below, absence is given a shape, meaning, form; it is put in writing, where it has a function, a flavor, and a politics - absence rarely looks the same. Staying with absence rather than straying from it, we invite responses to questions such as: What are the shapes and forms of absence that inflect and structure the contemporary theoretical debate? Where does absence turn up, where doesn’t it? How is absence mobilized politically, to what ends and with which results? In your fields or for your objects, how does absence matter, make matter? How is absence formalized (anti-)(re)productively? How is (some) form absent(ed)? What are the uses of absence, what can they be, and what have they been, for better and for worse? Finally, how to think the contradiction and the provocation of a contemporary aesthetics of absence?

To read the full CFP, visit:


Soapbox Journal is a peer-reviewed graduate journal for Cultural Analysis based in Amsterdam that operates online and in-print.

We are inviting extended proposals in MLA formatting and referencing style to be submitted to by June 10th, 2024. Each proposal must include an abstract of 300-500 words and a brief outline of the content and its order (up to 200 words, can be in bullet-points!). The outline is meant to give an indication of the intended structuring and weighing of the various elements of your text; we understand and expect that this will change again during drafting and editing. Submissions should be sent as a file attachment to the email, and the content of the file should be anonymised.

We will try to send out conditional acceptance emails by June 21st. Upon acceptance, the authors of the academic essays will be asked to submit a 4000-6000 word full draft by September 2nd. The editing and publishing process will span the next academic year (September 2024 - February 2025).

Soapbox Journal does not charge author publication fees.
works referenced and suggested:
Berlant, Lauren, and Lee Edelman. Sex, or the Unbearable. Duke University Press, 2014, Durham and London.
Bersani, Leo. “Is the Rectum a Grave?” October, vol. 43, 1987, pp. 197–222. JSTOR,
Bersani, Leo and Ulysse Dutoit. Arts of Impoverishment: Beckett, Rothko, Resnais. Harvard University Press, 1993, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Bey, Marquis. Cistem Failure: Essays on Blackness and Cisgender. Duke University, 2022, Durham.
Bradley, Rizvana. Anteaesthetics: Black Aesthesis and the Critique of Form. Stanford University Press, 2023, Stanford.
Brinkema, Eugenie. Life-Destroying Diagrams. Duke University Press, 2022, Durham.
Caseria, Robert L., Lee Edelman, Jack Halberstam, José Esteban Muñoz and Tim Dean. “The Antisocial Thesis in Queer Theory.” PMLA, vol. 121, no. 3, May 2006, pp. 819-828.
Edelman, Lee. No Future: Queer Theory and the Death Drive. Duke University Press, 2004, Durham.
Edelman, Lee. Bad Education: Why Queer Theory Teaches Us Nothing. Duke University Press, 2022, Durham.
Halberstam, Jack. The Queer Art of  Failure. Duke University Press, 2011, Durham.
[and new and forthcoming work on “destitution”]
Wilderson III, Frank B. Afropessimism. Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2020, New York.