2008 Queer Studies Graduate Symposium
University of California, Davis
May 17, 2008
Neoliberal practices of risk management and nationalist projects of security and safety depend upon the construction of a dystopic future that must be prevented and the promise of a utopic future that might be created. Images of utopia and dystopia proliferate explicitly and implicitly within mainstream discourses around immigration and citizenship, marriage and family values, and environmental degradation. Within this context, queer projects must work to diagnose the utopian longings and dystopic concerns connected to hetero- and homo-normative neoliberalisms and nationalisms. At the same time, however, queer scholarship has begun to ask what it might mean to risk engaging with the utopic as a theoretical, political, and aesthetic tool for social
change. Recent debates around temporality in queer studies have grappled with the value of the future and the utopian: while some maintain that discourses of futurity remain inextricably linked to heteronormative generationality and that notions of utopia remain irredeemably tainted by colonialist and imperialist histories, others insist upon the potential for queer reworkings of futurity and utopia to disrupt dominant narratives. This symposium wishes to inspire further discussion concerning queer utopias in particular and queer temporalities in general as well as to invite conversations around the interconnections between the utopic and the dystopic within conservative and radical projects.
In what ways does the utopian function within academic, activist, and artistic projects, and how is the dystopian invoked within these different contexts?
What are the limits and possibilities of “the utopic” or “the dystopic” as theoretical and political frameworks? How do discussions of queer utopias and dystopias engage with other fields of scholarship, such as postcolonial, feminist, environmental, disability, and/or critical race studies? What are the ethics of utopia? How are ideas about embodied difference deployed in utopic and dystopic narratives, either as something to be transformed, secured, or eliminated? Do queer reworkings and critiques of utopia/dystopia risk figuring “queer” as inherently resistant or revolutionary? In what ways do utopian longings and dystopian fears involve not only the invocation of imaginable futures but also the opening of the future to the not-yet-imaginable? How might queer utopias and dystopias involve not only temporal modalities but also spatial productions?
Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
Relationships between utopia and dystopia
Relationships between nostalgia and utopia
Queer futures, pasts, presents
Spatial and/or temporal utopias
Utopias and the archive
Suspension, pauses, gaps
Bodies and embodiments
Cultural productions, performances, and emerging public cultures
The utopia of a pre-AIDS past and/or a post-AIDS future
The risks and limits of utopia
Loss, trauma, melancholia
Digital and virtual spaces
Literary and filmic representations
Affective utopias/utopic affect
Nationalist and/or imperialist utopias
Sociality, community and/or kinship
We invite scholarship from a broad range of disciplines, especially interdisciplinary work in queer theory and transgender theory. We especially encourage work that critically engages mutually constitutive articulations of race, class, sexuality, dis/ability, gender, citizenship, religion, and nationality. We also welcome papers that engage activism and community organizing.
Please send 250-500 word abstracts with a CV to
email@example.com by MARCH 14, 2008.
Along with this abstract, please indicate if your presentation requires any AV equipment.
Acceptances will be sent out by MARCH 21, 2008
Symposium Website: www.queersymposium.org
For more information, email Toby Beauchamp, Liz Montegary, and Cathy Hannabach
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