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Sunday 19th March 2023 – Monday 20th March 2023
Prague, Czech Republic
Are you looking for an interdisciplinary space for stimulating conversations and research beyond the boundaries of your department? Abstracts are now being accepted for nine conference threads in the global inclusive interdisciplinary weekend planned by Progressive Connexions for next spring in Prague. By submitting a proposal to one of these conferences, you will be joining a tight-knit group of scholars, activists, and artists working on your topic from a multitude of perspectives, but you will also have the opportunity to meet and work with people who have applied to the other conference topics. The friendly and communal style of our conferences welcomes people from all walks of life to share their work and plant seeds for future collaborations and projects.
The nine conference threads in Prague this spring will be:
Monsters and the Monstrous (https://www.progressiveconnexions.net/interdisciplinary-projects/evil/mo...)
This global and inclusive conference is an interdisciplinary exploration of the variety of monsters, from gooey spider-legged creatures under the bed, to serial killers safely locked in jail and historical memory. Why do cultures create such abundances of monsters, both in fiction and in our tellings of reality? What are their functions, their roles in society, their cultural impacts? And at the same time, what draws so many people to the monstrous? Are we driven by some primal urge to touch evil, or is there a redemptive impulse in the desire to save a misunderstood creature or person? What about the way monsters are used to justify horrors perpetrated on Others, and how monstrous actions become justified in themselves based on cultural or political beliefs?
This project takes a broad definition of “monsters” and “the monstrous,” including monstrous creatures, people, actions, and events, with a view to forming a series of innovative interdisciplinary dissemination activities including publishing and future international collaborations among other project plans.
Submit proposals to:
Evil Women/Women and Evil (https://www.progressiveconnexions.net/interdisciplinary-projects/evil/ev...)
Few things capture the human imagination as much as evil, a notoriously slippery concept that enjoys universal recognition yet defies easy definition. As a term which is frequently used in relation to people who commit appalling crimes, it provides a useful means of describing unimaginable wickedness and is bandied about in popular culture – particularly by the tabloid press – as a way of explaining behaviours which defy belief. Evil is something ‘more than’ doing something morally wrong, ‘more than’ simply committing a crime, ‘more than’ an act of senseless slaughter. Defining that ‘more than’ is difficult: it is precisely this elusive quality which seems to make an act, or a person, evil.
In many cultures, women have been long suspected as the source of sundry human miseries, however basic to society they may be. While ideals of purity and dedication to family have been exalted and feminine beauty lauded, women have been viewed as embodying sinister forces of evil. Mistrusted as seductive and beguiling, women are often thought of as vengeful, manipulative and even malevolent. In grappling with our understanding of what it is to be ‘evil’, the project aims to shine a spotlight on this dark area of the human condition and explore the possible sources of the fear and resentment of women. Women are not expected to behave in aberrant or illegal ways, and we will consider the structural and systemic reasons for the heightened interest, repulsion, condemnation – and even hatred – that feminine transgression generates. Women are condemned not only for what they do but also for what they fail to do; those who harbour, lie for and couple with nefarious men are seen to have failed in their duty as gatekeepers of male morality. Where women themselves are accused of evil they are often judged more harshly than their male counterparts, as evil acts committed by women are seen to transgress not just legal and moral boundaries but also those imposed by gender.
Submit proposals to:
"Bad Mothers": Non-traditional Mothering, Queer Parenting, and Visions for Alternative Family Systems (https://www.progressiveconnexions.net/interdisciplinary-projects/evil/ba...)
Revered as “givers of life,” bio-genealogical mothers occupy an important role in our world, often seen as the key to ensuring the ongoing survival of the human race. Though the bond between mother and child is commonly celebrated as sacred, cultural attitudes towards non-bio-genealogical parenting and child-rearing are often seen as inferior to the biological, nuclear family. At its worst, non-bio-genealogical and/or traditional families are condemned as threatening “traditional” family values, labelled as dangerous or “bad” for the children, “having an agenda,” or marked as deviant, perverse, or evil.
Queer theorists have criticized the ways heteronormativity, the nuclear family, and cultural pressures for citizens to reproduce, re-enforce oppressive systems including patriarchy, capitalism, colonialism, heteronormativity and white supremacy. Therefore, our second annual conference on Bad Mothers aims to transcend beyond traditional and oversimplified understandings of motherhood, mothering, and child-rearing as purely bio-genealogical and hetero- and cis-normative. In doing so, we invite discussions on all forms of non-traditional parenting that may be constituted as “bad” or threatening to society to examine how queerness, fostering, adoption, surrogacy, and all forms of non-nuclear family child-rearing are pathologized as threatening and “bad.”
The purpose of Bad Mothers is not, in essence, to criticize or condemn certain types of motherhood, biological or not. Rather, we wish to look beyond the oversimplified cultural attitudes and expectations of motherhood to examine, question, and analyse the pathologizing and demonization of queer, non-heteronormative, and/or non-bio-genealogical family and parenting. In doing so we wish to examine alternative forms of mothering and parenting that imagine queer futures of family, parenting, and community building.
Key questions for discussion include: How do our cultures use the nuclear family to reaffirm and promote heteronormativity, bio-genealogical reproduction, and patriarchy? Furthermore, how do these attitudes uphold racism, colonialism, heteronormativity, policing, xenophobia, and other oppressive systems of harm? What are the purposes and consequences as labelling non-nuclear family systems as “bad”? How are non-bio-genealogical mothers/parents (e.g. aunties, chosen moms, step-mothers, polyamorous families with multiple parents, adoptive moms, foster parents, genderqueer and agender parents, drag mothers, etc.) left out of spaces dedicated to motherhood and parenting? How have some communities (e.g. the LGBTQIA+ community) and cultures envisioned and created family and community spaces that transcend the constrictions of bio-genealogical, nuclear family?
Submit proposals to:
Since 2001 the world has seen its share of dystopian events including the rise of far right, fascist movements in political systems around the world, the worsening climate crisis, the rise in instances and awareness of terrorism—if not the underlying reasons for it—and the Covid-19 pandemic. These have in many ways shaped our daily lives, and we seem to be moving farther and farther away from any chance at a balanced, comfortable life, let alone a utopia. Yet, contrary to what might seem to make sense, this has only increased our desire to engage with dystopias. Instead of finding ways out of the darkness, we are actively choosing to run toward it—at least in fiction.
In this exciting, global and inclusive interdisciplinary event our goal is to examine the conceptualization, proliferation and ubiquity of dystopias, and their popularity.
To that end, we ask:
What is it about dystopias that have us seeking them out, willing to engage with each new version of a bleak future or dismal alternate version of reality? How have they become such an integral part of our lives that simply Googling the word brings up more than 100,000 hits, with unending lists of the top 50 or 100 dystopian novels, short stories, TV shows or movies?
What is it about a dystopia that keeps us turning the pages, that keeps us glued to our seats, and that makes it impossible to turn away from their forbidding, unspeakable futures? Is it that they are in a sense prophetic? Do we see our own futures? Do we use them to understand current events, political movements or politicians? Are they maps of places we do not wish to go, perhaps guides for actions we do not wish to take? Do we use them to look for clues in the world we live in to forestall our march toward disaster? Or perhaps do we use them as a measure of what lengths we ourselves would go to in order to survive in the situations they depict—and as a way of asking when those measures are necessary?
Submit proposals to:
Horror taps into primal emotions of fear and disgust that are universal to the human condition, and finds expression across cultures and historical periods. Yet the texts that shape the ways in which horror is broadly understood historically reflect predominantly Anglo-European and American cultural, social, historical and geographical contexts.
Growing awareness and appreciation of the rich horror traditions of other countries around the world, including Japan, Korea, India, Brazil, Sudan, and Thailand, has highlighted the importance of considering horror in a global context. Accordingly, the Global Horror: Local Perspectives Project provides a platform for exploring the ways in which horror motifs and themes are expressed through the ‘local perspectives’ that inform the creative practices and daily life of particular nations and cultures.
It is not the intent of the Project to exclude Anglo-European and American perspectives from the conversation of global horror, but rather to focus on other horror traditions which have frequently been de-centred or completely overlooked in the past. The scope of the Project therefore includes work that explores marginalised local perspectives within Anglo-European and American horror, and work that examines Anglo-European and American horror from a global perspective with a view to forming an innovative interdisciplinary publication to engender further research and collaboration.
Submit proposals to:
The End of Life Experience (https://www.progressiveconnexions.net/interdisciplinary-projects/health-...)
This inclusive interdisciplinary conference explores dying and death and the ways culture impacts care for the dying, the overall experience of dying and ways the dead are remembered. Over the past four decades, scholarship in thanatology and palliative care has increased dramatically. Our conversations seek a broad array of perspectives that explore, analyse, and/or interpret the myriad interrelations and interactions that exist between death and culture. Culture not only presents and portrays ideas about “a good death” and norms that seek to achieve it, it also operates as both a vehicle and medium through which meaning about death is communicated and understood. Sadly, too, culture sometimes facilitates death through violence.
Submit proposals to:
Fairy tales, emerging from the oral tradition, are some of the oldest narratives we have. Following mythologies, legends, epics, folk tale traditions, fairy tales contain elements from the realistic to the supernatural and the fantastic. Having been told in different cultures and in different languages, these tales change and transform as they pass from mouth to mouth, from culture to culture, from generation to generation; it is the foremost part of our tendency to create, to tell, to share. Hoping to add more to explorations in understanding fairy tale, we invites varieties of disciplines, professions, practitioners and storytellers to create, tell and share with us.
Fairy tales work on various levels: as psychoanalytic maps, as reflections of traditions, stereotypes or traumas of collective or personal consciousness, guides to navigating, understanding and functioning in life, as well as including regional or international imageries, motifs and symbols. As a part of our cultural memory as well as history, they are is filled with vast ranges of imagery, symbols and motifs which are continually being adapted, rewritten, reinterpreted and subject to formal and thematic changes.
Submit proposals to:
The concept of pop—or popular—culture is slippery and oddly illusory. We might think we understand it and know what it is even if we can’t quite define it, but due to the fact that it is a contemporary phenomenon in full swing and related to popular and everyday activities, its meaning, production and circulation flows are quite complex. Part of what holds society together, pop culture works in large part through various forms of media to disseminate normative modes of behaviour and thought, introduces new and innovative ideas, offers inclusivity and an easily generated in-group mechanism, and can often serve as a belief system upon which to hang one’s values.
Research and analysis around pop culture includes cultural studies, adaptation studies, media studies, political economy, business and many more and the field is growing in the last few years with specialized publications and events.
In this conference we hope to begin a conversation about pop culture practices, products, and meanings, along with discussions about their consumption and circulation. From some perspectives, pop culture may seem to have its roots in Anglo-European and American perspectives but this is merely a subject position issue. Popular culture as a category occurs around the world and helps each country, and subsets within them, form their sense of identity. The scope of the Project therefore includes examinations of pop culture and its effects from around the world, both from marginalised local perspectives within Anglo-European and American pop culture, and from other pop culture milieus worldwide. We are also interested in work that examines Anglo-European and American pop culture from a transnational perspective.
Submit proposals to:
Proliferations of Lovecraft (https://www.progressiveconnexions.net/interdisciplinary-projects/evil/lo...)
Through his view of humanity as something insignificant in contrast to the cosmos, Lovecraft anticipated significant concerns over the uncertainties proper to the twenty-first century. In the current context of the Anthropocene, we are not threatened by physical hyperobjects or monsters he envisioned, but we struggle to accept that we cannot escape the destructive effects of what we continue to call natural catastrophes. In fact, we continue to believe that we are in control of what happens on Earth. Yet we face two undeniable truths: earthquakes, hurricanes, heat waves, raging fires and sometimes viruses cannot be stopped; and our insistence to claim control over the planet brings permanent destructive marks on its surface, waters and atmosphere. While Lovecraft’s monstrous creatures come from distant pasts and futures, the ultimate monster in our own times is humanity itself.
Lovecraft’s legacy and impact is evident in the first decades of the twenty-first century. Contemporary adaptations of his thought and his monsters remind us that we are not alone on this planet but surrounded by countless life forms who are affected by our actions and whose existence is directly related to ours. Rather than mere repetitions of his plots and ideas, what we see today is countless reworkings of his aesthetic proposals. Creators in multiple fields, from literature, drama, TV and film, to videogames, comics, card sets and even children’s books reshape and appropriate Lovecraft’s creatures and the atmospheres they inhabit in order to express their ideas about social and environmental anxieties of our times. As a result, the number of readers of his stories and letters is constantly growing, and his life and career are being re-evaluated. This makes it essential to call for discussions and analyses of not only the author and his work but also adaptations of his ideas, and to examine why his name has become permanently connected with our darkest fears about our present and future
Toward this end, Progressive Connexions aims to focus our upcoming, interdisciplinary event on both the alignment of Lovecraft’s works and ideas with the upheavals of our current era, and on the phenomenon of how recurring adaptations of his creatures and atmospheres (in diverse channels of expression) give voice to anxieties around the role of humanity in the first decades of the twenty-first century.
Submit proposals to:
What To Send
The aim of these interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking events is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, storytelling, performances, poster presentations, panels, q&a’s, round-tables etc.
300 word proposals, presentations, abstracts and other forms of contribution and participation should be submitted by Friday 16th September 2022. Other forms of participation should be discussed in advance with the Organising Chair.
All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Development Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.
You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 7th October 2022.
If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 17th February 2023
Abstracts and proposals may be in Word, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
Emails should be titled: [Title of Conference] Submission
What’s so Special About Progressive Connexions?
A fresh, friendly, dynamic format – at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.
A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.
A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.
An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.
An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.