Thinking Through and Beyond Catastrophe: Composing for a Common, Livable World

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Call for Papers
May 31, 2017
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Composition & Rhetoric, Environmental History / Studies, Teaching and Learning, Area Studies

CFP: How is it Possible to Think Through and Beyond Catastrophe? Composing for a Common, Livable World

deadline for submissions: 
May 31, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Ron Milland, Critical Legal Conference: University of Warwick
contact email: 

The slowly unfolding catastrophe currently referred to as ‘Anthropocene’ generates a number of dire questions that we cannot even ask – let alone begin to answer – without deep thought. This panel asks how such deep thought might be possible in the face of the self-indulgent apocalypse narratives (Haraway), barbarism, infernal alternatives and sorcery (Stengers), and blind panic / desire to look away (Klein) that are engendered in catastrophic time. What creative practices and pathways can we cultivate to make thought possible?

Amongst the many perspectives we may consider is this provocation from “Staying with the Trouble” by Donna Haraway:

“What is it to surrender the capacity to think? These times called the Anthropocene are times of multispecies, including human, urgency: of great mass death and extinction; of onrushing disasters, whose unpredictable specificities are foolishly taken as unknowability itself; of refusing to know and to cultivate the capacity of response-ability; of refusing to be present in and to onrushing catastrophe in time; of unprecedented looking away. […] How can we think in times of urgencies without the self-indulgent and self-fulfilling myths of apocalypse, when every fiber of our being is interlaced, even complicit in the webs of processes that must somehow be engaged and repatterned? Recursively, whether we asked for it or not, the pattern is in our hands.”

Before engaging in the important praxis of repatterning, Haraway challenges us to “think new thoughts.” But how might we do this – while avoiding the self-indulgent and self-fulfilling traps she describes? How might we shift our collectively averted gaze – that unprecedented looking away – toward a constructive or creative view of catastrophe and the urgency that characterizes the Anthropocene?

In the face of this daunting line of questioning, this stream invites not so much answers, but potential pathways for teaching, learning, and thinking critically beyond current standards and norms. Papers from across the disciplines and outside of academia are welcome and may include either methods of thought or practice that have been tried, or theoretical possibilities that have been imagined, but not yet tried. Creative and unconventional thinking is encouraged. How might we stimulate critical self-reflection? In what ways can telling new stories – and, perhaps, teaching in ways that foster new criticisms – lead to new ideologies? And, perhaps most importantly, how might we engage in forms of collaborative resistance – both in thought, and, in practice – that are creative, inspirational, and even joyful?

Ideas we might draw on include:

  • spiritual activism / light in the dark (Anzaldúa)
  • staying with the trouble (Haraway)
  • the arts of the pharmakon (Stengers)
  • magic / animism / shamanism / modes of paying attention (Stengers, Todd)
  • anti-fascist aesthetics (Blencowe)
  • convivial culture beyond melancholia (Gilroy)
  • matters of care and speculative ethics (Puis de la Bellacasa)
  • coexistentialism (Mickey)

Please submit a proposal of no more than 200 words to the stream organizer at  Abstracts are due by Wednesday, 31st of May, 2017.  The Critical Legal Conference will be held at the University of Warwick on the 1st to 3rd of September, 2017.  Further information on the conference can be found at

Any questions can be sent to the stream organizer at the above email address.

Contact Info: 

Ron Milland, Stream Organizer

Critical Legal Conference, 2017

University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, United Kingdom

Contact Email: