Crossing Borders: Negotiation, Provocation, and Transgression

Graduate Conference: Call for Papers

Birkbeck, University of London

May 05 2017 - May 06 2017

Across the globe, borders are once again being erected, entrenched, and enlarged in order to contain, as well as to subject to the perpetual surveillance apparatus, people considered threats to the integrity of the national and supra-national state. From Calais to Lesbos, the camp has returned with a vengeance in Europe, supported by dubious claims for security. The spectre of the Jihadist and economic migrant haunts the political imaginary of the ‘advanced’ nations of Western Europe, who now spare no mercy for those displaced by civil war, environmental disaster, or material immiseration. Areas of conflict are increasingly being captured by drones, which, crucial for security, are profoundly redefining the borders between state, civil society, and privacy. Yet the very instantiation of the border speaks to and raises the possibility of its being breached, of forms of traversal, of lines of flight. This could be the contested borderland, a zone of indiscernibility where state violence regulates the movement of capital and labour, as in the case of the Mexico-US border and the region of Kashmir. It could also be the borderless world of ubiquitous data collection, which, paradoxically is recorded and stored in obscurely located and highly centralised data centres. Or, the faltering border between the conscious and the unconscious, whereby libidinal drives perpetually upset any stable sense of the sovereign self. Finally, ‘crossing borders’ poses a temporal question, directed to conceptions of historical change, the unpredictable instant of revolution which in shattering the known retroactively constitutes a border.
This conference is a call to intellectual arms, then, a provocation to think geographical, political, bodily, technological, and environment borders. What constitutes a border, how are they stabilised, and how can they be crossed, negotiated or transgressed? How are borders enacted, defined and re-defined by surveillance, technology, regulations and resistance? Are borders necessarily the logic of a colonial structure of thought, predicated on capture, division, and domination? How else might difference be thought and engaged? What is the discourse, language, imagery of the border? How are human bodies reciprocally shaped by the social environment? What model of the psyche can help us understand the rich diversity of socio-political mechanisms? How can we cross the border of rationality in order to explore and release the unconscious factors in our sense-making? And, crucially, how can we as academics cross institutional and disciplinary borders? We welcome submissions from across the Humanities and Social Sciences, and especially encourage contributions from artists and activists.

Proposals are invited for twenty minute papers and panels of three papers. Abstracts (300 words) should be submitted to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by 7 February 2017. Please also include a short bio (no more than 150 words), contact details, and institutional affiliation. Accepted proposals will be notified by 28 February 2017.