CFP [Extended Deadline]: Secrecy and Knowledge: Social and Cultural Responses to Secrecy: A series of webinars (15.12.2021)

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Secrecy and knowledge: social and cultural responses to secrecy

How can we know the unknowable? How do people respond to the secrecy of hegemonic forces?

What knowledge do actions of counter-secrecy, such as gossip, rumours, implied suggestions, give rise to, and in what ways and between whom does such knowledge spread? 

This interdisciplinary series of webinars seeks to explore contemporary and historical social and cultural responses to secrecy. We contend that the secrecy of powerful others – whether secret nation-states or multinational corporations – generates responses in terms of knowledge production. Such responses may take the form of rumours, guess work, metaphorical representations in literature and film, and they may be felt in the gut or be written onto and into bodies. In some cases, secrecy may present as a public secret (e.g., Taussig 1999) – something that is privately known but can only be publicly talked about in specific ways, such as the East German Secret Police, the Stasi. In others, it may be something that can be discussed but where knowledge, or the right kind of knowledge is too technical or time consuming to grasp or too inconvenient to deal with such as data collection through social media or mobile phone apps in the digital age.  

Webinar themes: 

  • Theoretical and/or interdisciplinary approaches to secrecy and knowledge  
  • Emotional and embodied knowledge and responses
  • Knowledge through gossip, rumours, suspicions  
  • Surveillance in relation to secrecy, privacy and knowledge 
  • Epistemological and methodological challenges

We invite all those interested in these topics to submit abstracts for one of the five themed webinars, which will take place in February – March 2022. We particular welcome submissions from early career scholars and postgraduate students. Abstracts should be 250-300 words long and should be accompanied by a shorter summary of no more than 150 characters including spaces. Please also indicate which webinar you would like your proposal to. Please note that, if chosen, in some cases we may suggest an alternative session depending on the emerging fit. 

We are looking into routes to publishing selected papers.

Please send your paper proposal by email no later than 15th Dec to:  


This series of webinars is organised by the research group ‘Knowing the Secret Police: Secrecy and Knowledge in East German Society (AHRC AH/R005915/1). This project explores questions of secrecy and power in relation to the East German Secret Police, the Stasi, and East German society. It asks not what the ‘all-powerful’ Stasi knew about society, but what and how East Germans knew about the ‘secret police’.


Redaktion: Constanze Baum – Lukas Büsse – Mark-Georg Dehrmann – Nils Gelker – Markus Malo – Alexander Nebrig – Johannes Schmidt

Diese Ankündigung wurde von H-GERMANISTIK [Nils Gelker] betreut –

Categories: CFP