Aghogho Akpome Announcement
South Africa
Subject Fields
Humanities, Languages, Literature, Sociology, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for papers

The link between intimacy and violence has been highlighted by the #MeToo movement of women who have come out about the sexual violence they have suffered. The theorist John Shotter has pointed out, in his delineation of ‘joint action’, that being ‘in hate’ is as intimate as being ‘in love’. This might go some way towards explaining domestic abuse which often takes place in private. Crucially, the link involves various forms and dimensions of power which enable the commitment and perpetration of violent acts. Whereas public forms of violence are easily identifiable, denounced and sometimes prosecuted, it is not so with those committed in private which evade the normative force of the public eye and where the dynamics of power are often complex and sometimes multi dimensional. This is probably why some rape cases, including some of those associated with the #MeToo movement, get mired in controversy and uncertainty.

Violence in cultural practices is often undertaken in seclusion: initiation rites including circumcision, say, or, more extremely, female genital mutilation. This is true also for violent expressions of public power. An example was South Africa’s apartheid state invading the private sphere of individuals by breaking in on sexual acts it defined as ‘ The increasing deployment of state power in the form of legislations for example against homosexuals and reproductive rights in conservative societ ies across the world entails similar violence against the private sphere. This has also come to the fore during the lockdowns that have accompanied the COVID 19 pandemic. But violent deployment of power can take less spectacular and more innocuous forms es pecially in the kinds of private contexts within which sexual abuse occurs. Examples of this would include the power of seduction as well as different forms of psychological
manipulation and conversational brutality, the dynamics of which often remain opaque. These can have extreme and far reaching effects because they draw on the perpetrators’ intimate knowledge of their subjects and circumstances as is sometimes dramatized in literary and cinematic works of all genres.

Going beyond the realm of human rel ationships, it is important also to recognise the impact of violating and disrupting convention; of radical deviations from extant conditions or patterns of stability or generic form such as those which characterise formal uses of language. In this regard, linguistic and epistemological violence remains a vexed issue that manifests across pedagogical, psycho-social and epistemological contexts. Furthermore, the symbolism of violence in its varying forms, remains a topos for fertile interdisciplinary explora tion.

We invite paper and panel proposals from scholars working in a diversity of disciplinary backgrounds language/literary studies, sociology, philosophy, psychology, cultural studies, etc. Abstracts of not more than 350 words may address issues rela ted to, but not limited to the following:

•  Sexual abuse in intimate relationships of all kinds;
•  Seduction and rape;
•  The power of intimacy;
•  Homophobia and violence;
•  War heroes and the notion of positive violence
•  Generational violence
•  The father figure
•  Language change: innovation or violation?
•  Language disorder and difference
•  Conversational violence, or “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can do
more harm to me”
•  Gaslighting: the power of language in intimate relations
•  Identity, language and power
•  Competing voices: dialogue, rhetoric and telling tales
•  Literacy, orality and power
•  The power of the voice and the language of the body

The organisers are negotiating with an accredited journal for a special issue based on selected
papers to be delivered in the conference.

Confirmed keynote speakers:

       Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni
       Chair of Epistemologies of the Global South, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
       Vice Dean: Research, Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence
       University of Bayreuth, Germany

       Pumla Dineo Gqola
       DSI NRF SARChI Chair in African Feminist Imagination
       Centre for Women and Gender Studies
       Nelson Mandela University, South Africa

Abstracts should be sent to and by April 14, 2022. After blind review of the abstracts, notice of acceptance including information about registration fees will be sent by May 20. The conference will be held in a hybrid format and there will be opportunities for those who want to par ticipate virtually to do so. A limited number of travel and accommodation bursaries will be provided for some presenters who are able to demonstrate need and whose papers are accepted for in-person presentation.

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