The Arts of Spinoza + Pacific Spinoza

Interstices Under Construction symposium: Call for Papers

Auckland University of Technology and University of Auckland, New Zealand

May 26 2017 - May 28 2017

We invite scholarly submissions on the philosophy of Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677), for a special issue of Interstices journal and the annual Interstices symposium to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, 26-28 May 2017. The intent is to further consolidate the recent revival of interest in Spinoza’s thought, and to reaffirm his status as an enormously powerful thinker of contemporary relevance.  Papers on any aspect of Spinoza studies are thus welcomed. But the more specific aim of the symposium and journal issue is twofold: firstly, to extend the burgeoning scholarship on Spinoza into the domains of study parsed by Interstices, namely arts and architecture, and secondly, to situate Spinoza’s philosophy within the particular locus of New Zealand, Australasia, the South Pacific, and the Pacific Rim more broadly. Each of these aspects will be tackled in separate sessions or separate days of the symposium.
            With regard to the first aim, we welcome submissions that put Spinoza’s philosophy in productive proximity with a particular artform or an individual work of art, whether literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music, dance, performance, etc. — or that have an especial focus on any of the numerous artistic and literary figures who are known to have read Spinoza appreciatively and in whose works Spinozist shadings might be discerned (Goethe, Coleridge, George Eliot, Thomas Hirschhorn, etc.). Contributors might like to think of this event and journal issue as extending, in the direction of arts and architecture, the very fine work done by the anthology Spinoza Beyond Philosophy (2012, ed. Beth Lord).
Since Interstices’s particular interest is in architectural studies, we would be keen to see contributions that consider Spinoza as helpful for thinking any of the design and spatial disciplines (architecture, urban design, landscape, geography, interior design, and so on). Contributors might also choose to take ‘architecture’ in the sense of ‘structure’, in which case not only would built environments and tectonics be the subject of analysis, but also the very structure of Spinoza’s texts, the extraordinary way in which his texts are wrought (the famous geometric architecture of the Ethics, for example).
We also invite submissions that don’t necessarily fall under any of the artistic disciplines listed above, and that interpret “arts” in the broadest possible sense. Spinoza’s philosophy predates the modern idea of a differentiated domain of the arts, and so the Latin word that Spinoza uses — ars — has the older and broader sense of skill or craft or ability or proficiency.[1] We thus welcome submissions that are about ‘arts’ in this more general sense — for example, about what Spinoza teaches us about the arts of living (ars vivendi) or the arts of constructing a liberal polity (ars politica, government, statecraft).
With regard to the second aim, we invite submissions on any aspects of Spinoza studies that have a connection to New Zealand, Australia, the South Pacific, or Asia-Pacific and the Pacific Rim more broadly. Such papers might, for example, examine the historical reception and interpretation of Spinoza in New Zealand, Australia, the Oceanic “sea of islands”, or any proximate sister region.[2] The idea is to give geographic concreteness and local specificity to the interpretation of Spinoza — to see how Spinoza might be or has been read in New Zealand and the Pacific, and inversely to see how our ways of thinking about New Zealand and the Pacific might be productively inflected by reading Spinoza.

[1] See Moira Gatens, “Spinoza on Goodness and Beauty and the Prophet and the Artist”, European Journal of Philosophy 23, no. 1 (2015), p. 3.
[2] The reference is to Epeli Hau’ofa’s “Our Sea of Islands”, The Contemporary Pacific 6, no. 1 (1994), 147–161.


Abstracts of 300 words, along with a short biographical statement of 100 words, to be sent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), by midnight nzst, 30th January 2017. For purposes of peer review, the abstract should be sent in a separate self-contained file with no identifying information in it. Please send Microsoft Word files only (doc or docx). Abstracts will be vetted through a process of blind peer review.
Selected papers from the symposium will be invited for revision, peer review, and publication in the subsequent issue of Interstices. If you are unable to attend the symposium in New Zealand, but wish to submit a paper for the journal issue, please send the full and completed paper to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) by 31st May 2017.
Further inquiries can be directed to the convenor Eu Jin Chua, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), Farzaneh Haghighi, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or to Susan Hedges, the Coordinating Editor of Interstices, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

A fuller Call for Papers / Discussion Document is attached as a PDF file, or available online at

Download the Poster as a PDF