CfP: Encounters with Vulnerability, Newcastle University, Conference 22 November 2013

by | 11 Jun 2013


This one-day conference seeks to bring together postgraduate and early-career scholars from across the UK and beyond to explore the general theme of ‘Encounters with vulnerability: the victim, the fragile, the monster, the queer, the abject, the nomadic, the feminine, the shameful, and the rest’. This interdisciplinary conference in the field of Law, Gender and Sexuality’ will investigate what lies beneath vulnerability, how it is deployed, what it calls for, and how it is denied, among other.

Despite its ubiquity, the concept of vulnerability has been fine-tuned in the last decade or so. It has been used to explain and counteract the different dimensions of how the ‘subject’ and the body that it inhabits are deployed — represented, regulated, normalised — through atomistic notions, without relations. To the extent that normative orders, from politics to law, assume or idealize disembodied subjectivity, it encourages us to re-encounter and re-think the different forms of relating to embodiment, with vulnerability as one of its aspects.

At the same time, there seems to be a tendency to think about the vulnerable body only when it is injured and demanding healing from violence. Some argue that its normative appeals remain elusive or even that it too-easily accommodates neo-liberal frames of governance. But ‘vulnerability’ could be more than that, even without a normative substance, as it authorises ethical and political provocations, that open new paths to engage with care, relationality, and different experiences of embodiment. Within this context some, but by no means all, of the questions we will seek to draw attention to are:

  • What are the effects of considering vulnerability as the basis for subjectivities and its impact on identities, i.e. human/non-human/post-human, sexual differences, queer, etc. How does it impact on i.e. sexual rights, economic rights, political rights, among others?
  • How do vulnerability theories, encounters, politics, etc. alter our relationship to embodiment?
  • Is it possible to accommodate vulnerability into politics, law, and justice? If possible, how does adopting a vulnerability perspective transform, radicalize, heal or retreat from political, legal, discursive, material spaces?
  • Who is authorized to speak for the vulnerable? How is this authorization legitimized? What tools do ethical theorisations of ‘vulnerability’ or ‘precariousness’ offer to those attempting to collectively challenge forms of state violence, such as border controls, or the enforced precarity of global capitalism?

We invite papers addressing these and other related questions for inclusion in the conference program. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to Nayeli by August 19th.

Successful participants will be notified no later than September.

Date: Nov 22nd, 2013
Venue: Newcastle University
Host: Gender Research Group, Newcastle University


Registration is free and there will be small subsidies available to support travel and accommodation costs for postgraduate students. The application for funding can be found in here. The deadline for bursary applications is August 19th.

The Future of PECANS

Nov 23rd, 2013 (morning)

Interested in getting more involved with PECANS? Thinking about joining the network? Just want to see what the committee does? Attend a meeting on the future of PECANS the day after the workshop.

We value your input on the development of the network, future conferences and themes, funding opportunities and online engagements. We are also looking for new committee members, so please come along!


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