Global Complicities

Cornelia Wächter Announcement
Subject Fields
African History / Studies, Asian History / Studies, Eastern Europe History / Studies, Human Rights, Middle East History / Studies

Complicity rhetoric is frequently adopted in public and political discourse. For example, Joe Biden has repeatedly used the formulation ‘silence is complicity’ as a call for the defence of human rights. Yet, in an ever more interconnected and globalised world, identifying and tracing the often complex relationships of cause and effect that comprise complicity is more and more difficult. The notion of collective complicity seems to be increasingly applicable to phenomena that define the contemporary world, such as the effects of global capitalism and the climate emergency (and has been elaborated, for example, by Christopher Kutz in Complicity: Ethics and Law for a Collective Age (2000)). However, given that most academic theorisations of complicity are grounded in western legal and philosophical discourse, the question remains as to how different collectives – whether national, cultural or political – conceive of, employ, and respond to the idea of complicity.


The Global Complicities conference, therefore, has two general aims: firstly, to address complicity as a global phenomenon, both in terms of scale and in terms of the locations studied in academic work, and secondly, to expand the concept of complicity beyond definitions and concepts rooted in western legal, philosophical and humanitarian discourse. As such, we welcome papers that fall into two broad (and not necessarily exclusive) categories. The first section of the conference will consist of papers addressing and explicating complicity as a concept from the perspective of different cultural contexts, whether informed by law, philosophy, or other conceptual frameworks. The second section will be dedicated to papers addressing specific cases of complicity from a range of locations. It is hoped that the conference will be expansive in scope, and as such, papers from any disciplinary background will be considered.


Potential topics for papers might include, but are not limited to, the following areas:

  • Competing definitions and conceptualisations of complicity
  • Complicity and identity, whether individual or collective
  • Complicity and affect (e.g. shame, guilt, denial)
  • Complicity and (post)memory
  • Complicity and the environment
  • Complicity, resistance, and cultural forms of expression
  • Transnational or transcultural complicities
  • Complicity and implication (cf. Rothberg, The Implicated Subject (2019))


The symposium will take place at the Technical University of Dresden on 5-6 June 2021, although provision will also be made for those who wish to deliver their papers online.


Please submit abstracts of around 300 words together with a short bio note to by 24 January 2023.



Ivan Stacy, Beijing Normal University

Cornelia Wächter, Technische Universität Dresden

Contact Information
Prof. Dr. Cornelia Wächter Professur für Großbritannienstudien Institut für Anglistik und Amerikanistik Fakultät Sprach-, Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften Technische Universität Dresden 01062 Dresden Germany
Contact Email