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Call for Proposals

The 2018 Deadline for Submissions was February 21, 2018 at 11:59pm EST
Accept/decline notifications will be sent to the email used in the proposal process by May 1, 2018.  Please save your accept/decline email notification.

ABOUT THE THEME: JUST IMAGINE. IMAGINING JUSTICE: Feminist visions of freedom, dream making and the radical politics of futures

“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” – Angela Davis

“Socialist feminism of the second wave: it wasn’t just a scene of solidarity based on critique of the political economy of the family or patriarchy, but was a genuine effort at imagining other living forms of relation and value transecting economy and intimacy.” – Lauren Berlant

“Another world is not only possible.  She is on her way. On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.” – Arundhati Roy

“Theory and praxis, story and practice are interdependent, cogenerators of knowledge.  Practices are politics.  Processes are governance.  Doing produces more knowledge.” – Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

“Queerness is that thing that lets us feel that this world is not enough.” – José Esteban Muñoz

The scholarship, theoretical work, and scholar-activism that has animated and advanced NWSA as an intellectual community over the past 40+ years has been forward-looking, provocative and transcendent: embracing insurgent intellectual praxes that violate conventions, disrupt dominant narratives, abandon existing canons and imagine new ways of knowing and being. In contrast, the recent rise of right wing populism, neo-fascist movements, white nationalism, science denial, and religious bigotry (including both Islamophobia and anti-Semitism), homophobia and transphobia, all represent desperate and retrograde responses to current social, political, economic and environmental challenges. 

In 2018 NWSA will meet in Atlanta, on the same weekend, and two blocks from the annual meeting of one of our sister organizations, the American Studies Association (ASA). Our colleague, feminist queer of color theorist, Roderick Ferguson is the incoming President of ASA. In the spirit of collaboration, we decided to frame our 2018 NWSA theme in conversation with the ASA’s theme, “States of Emergence.”  

Our theme, “JUST IMAGINE. IMAGINING JUSTICE: Feminist visions of freedom, dream making and the radical politics of futures” invites scholars to engage the work of a variety of thinkers and visionaries, past and present, who insist that we cannot build movements or intellectual projects based simply on what we are against, but rather we have to deploy our imaginations to create projects, paradigms and movements based on what we are for. ASA, borrowing from the works of Walter Benjamin and Homi Bhabha, has embraced the notion that every emergency creates the basis for new possibilities to emerge and to take hold. We want to look at realized and imagined futures that offer alternative frames, logics, aesthetics, sexualities, social relations and social systems. This is the foundation upon which new radical praxes of freedom will be built. We also encourage scholars to resist epistemic frames that artificially divide dreaming from doing.

This theme is inspired by the work of Latin American and Caribbean surrealists, Afro-futurists (including the creative Black Feminist Futures Project), and the popular cultural call for all of us to “get woke,” meaning to attain a greater awareness of existing realities, but also to develop an oppositional stance vis-à-vis dominant “truths.” What do those in the margins, on the borderlands, in the interstices, and below the radar tell us about imagining a different kind of future?

Feminist scholarship at its best is about changing the world, and questioning what we have come to accept as ‘normal’ in the world: a world replete with injustice, repression, violence and exploitation. If we can challenge ourselves to rethink essentialist notions of gender, race, sexuality, disability, and the many other human categories that have defined the hierarchical taxonomy of human suffering, then we can rethink anything. Indigenous scholars and movements, often with women at the center, have pushed us to confront settler colonial mindsets and to recalibrate how we think of time, place, “property,” and the relationship of humans to the environment. Disability studies scholars have unmasked pervasive ableism and innovated work on new ways of knowing and being in the world. All of this stretches us to think alternatively about what the future might look like.

Racial capitalism, rooted in white supremacy, patriarchy, and empire, not only compromises the ability of many people on the planet to have the material resources to survive, but also stifles and constricts our collective imagination to envision something different and better. Former NWSA President Vivian May, in defense of intersectionality, insists that it, above all, “contests dominant imaginaries.” What a radical gesture that is. Poets, fiction writers, visual and performance artists, filmmakers and science fiction writers have also provided us with some of the tools to transcend the urgency and ugliness of ‘now’ in order to craft alternative communities, systems and practices. These are the building blocks of social transformation in a period of moral and existential crisis. We invite submissions that engage this theme in provocative and nuanced ways. 
We invite paper, panel, performance and workshop proposals that build creatively and critically on our theme, and sub-themes.  We strongly encourage independent scholars, non-academic writers, artists, researchers and organizers to propose panels and presentations, and to be included in sessions alongside university-based scholars. 

Please note that submitted proposals must address one of the themes below to be eligible for inclusion in the program.  Sub-themes for the conference include:

SUBTHEME ONE: Afro-futurism, feminist futures, surrealist thought and radical imaginaries
SUBTHEME TWO: Rethinking gender, sexuality, family, disability and the bio-politics of what is or is not human?
SUBTHEME THREE: The future of the universities, schools, and knowledge production: maroon spaces, insurgent practices, and the future of the disciplines and the interdisciplines?
SUBTHEME FOUR: Post-capitalism: imagining new economic futures
SUBTHEME FIVE: Revolutions and utopian projects: sustained, incomplete and derailed
SUBTHEME SIX: Political, cultural and artistic movements that “demand the impossible:” “abolition” and beyond
SUBTHEME SEVEN: The earth’s future and legacies of its past: environmental justice, climate change, indigeneity, land rights, wars and occupations