CfP: The Bubble: Metaphors we survive by (with apologies to Lakoff & Johnson)

by | 9 Jun 2020

We get the metaphors we deserve. Metaphors are indispensable tools for making sense of reality, including the ongoing reality of systemic colonial relations—or to obfuscate it (to deflect the need to enact substantive decolonisation agendas, for example). In times of crisis they perform a crucial role in translating and interpreting a rapidly changing world.

Viral phenomena have multiplied recently, literally and metaphorically. But all crises generate metaphorical languages. Terrorism was not a virus, it was a bacterial formation; the GFC was a fierce and incontrollable storm… The ‘Canberra bubble’ – a bad thing – has become the ‘family bubble’ – a good thing. To understand what is at stake in the metaphors we use and the ways they are deployed, we need a critical engagement with their underlying assumptions, their rhetorical operation, their ideological effects, and their realworld implications.

So we propose a zoominar series hosted by the Institute for Postcolonial Studies in Melbourne – four monthly panels, each dedicated to exploring the metaphors we survive by, and centred around some the following themes:

  1. Metaphors in the colonial present
  2. Metaphors and colonial history
  3. Metaphors for crisis
  4. Metaphors in law and government
  5. Metaphor and the structure of social policy
  6. Image and metaphor
  7. Digital metaphors
  8. The politics of metaphor and the metaphors of politics
  9. Metaphors of disease, treatment, and healing

If you are interested in participating, please send an abstract to the convenors, no later than 3 July 2020. We encourage thought-provoking and succinct presentations, no more than twenty minutes in length, with the possibility of a longer paper forming part of a projected special journal issue in the future.

Touch wood.

Desmond Manderson, ANU (

Lorenzo Veracini, Swinburne University of Technology (


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