CFP Bodies of Occupation, Workshop, University of Nottingham Malaysia, 15-17 September 2020

Stephanie Benzaquen-Gautier's picture
September 15, 2020 to September 17, 2020
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Environmental History / Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies


Bodies of occupation


An international workshop

15 September – 17 September 2020

University of Nottingham Malaysia


The aim of this three-day workshop organised through the ERC-funded ‘Cultures of Occupation in Twentieth Century Asia’ (COTCA) Project ( is to explore the ways in which the body mediates between different levels, agents, forms, spaces, and media of occupation. In turns savage, ‘civilized’, tortured, enslaved, resisting, fetishized or ‘emancipated’, the body fills stories of occupation. In a variety of arenas, such as law, health, trade, social activities, family life, beliefs and rituals, it constitutes a major site of interaction between the ‘occupier’ and the ‘occupied’. To what extent does a bodily perspective make possible to write histories of violence and domination ‘from below’? Through which methodologies, sources, and materiality can we approach bodies of occupation? What does the shift from the narrative to the performative produce in terms of critical knowledge about ‘occupation’? These and others are the questions the workshop proposes to address. ‘Occupation’ is defined in a broad sense, including ‘high intensity’ forms (e.g., imperialism, settler colonialism, military operations, political repression, extractivism, neoliberal use of bodies as productive/reproductive machines) and ‘low intensity’ forms (e.g., transitional justice initiatives, ‘soft power’, economic investments, mass tourism). With this large scope, the workshop aims to foreground continuity across a range of temporalities, locations, and topographies of occupation, and then emphasise the linkages between historical, political, structural, and ‘slow’ violence.  


Topics include (but are not limited to):


1. Discipline and the body as a site of power

2. The 'body as spectacle' and the visual archive of occupation

3. Territories and practices of gendered occupation

4. Bodily performances of resistance, identity, and intersectionality

5. Embodied legacies and ecologies of occupation 


The workshop brings different conceptualisations of the body into conversation. Moreover, it seeks to re-conceptualise ‘occupation’ outside anthropocentric modes of cognition and representation, and to integrate multi-species agency (post-human and nonhuman: Earth, nature, plants, stones, animals, bacteria, cells, ghosts) into the discussion. This perspective might contribute to further fleshing out an interdisciplinary approach to ‘occupation’, engaging anthropology, history, gender studies, visual culture, literature, and postcolonial studies alongside emerging fields such as critical geography, spectrality studies, and more broadly environmental humanities. 


The workshop will be discussion-oriented and include individual presentations. Proposals for 20-minute paper are welcome from scholars at all stages of their career. Paper abstracts of 300 words, along with a short biographical note of no more than 100 words (indicating institutional affiliation, position, and contact details) should be sent to by the deadline of Wednesday, 15 April, 2020. A decision on abstracts will be made in May 2020. 


Selected presenters will be eligible for reimbursement of some travel costs to and from Malaysia and will be provided with accommodation and meals during the workshop. 


Questions can be directed to Stéphanie Benzaquen-Gautier, via





Contact Info: 

Stephanie Benzaquen-Gautier

ERC Research Fellow

'Cultures of Occupation in Twentieth Century Asia' (COTCA)

University of Nottingham, UK