Conflicted Bodies: Feminist and Queer Responses to Militarism and Violence since 1900 conference at Goldsmiths (University of London). Keynote: Jasbir Puar (Rutgers University)

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After this war nothing can be as it was before. The foundation of all things must be re-examined. Things which we might have let pass, light-heartedly, as unimportant, now come to be charged with a tragic and intense significance.

– Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, ‘An Open Letter to Thomas McDonagh’ (1915)

How might logics of militarism, patriarchy and heteronormativity be enmeshed and interdependent? By the same token, how might feminist, queer and pacifist politics draw on each other in the struggle for equality and against war? How do cultural representations in the media, art and literature shape and normalise such heteronormative practices? In thinking through the potential tensions and alliances between these ideologies, this conference seeks to reconsider the relations between gender, sexuality and violence.

Twentieth and twenty-first century Western norms have largely centred on the fantasy of hegemonic masculinity as the only subject able to manifest ‘control’, a subject that has given flesh to the nationalist ideals of sovereignty and self-determination. Women, queer identities, colonial subjects, and enemies in wartime have often been subordinated within this model of the body politic. These excluded subjects must be managed to maintain a social order grounded in the privileging of white, heterosexual, militarised masculinity.

Yet how might these norms be put under strain by the conflicts they are cultivated to support, or by political struggle? What of the claims made by these excluded subjects, and the new modes of representation they generate? What of the wounded male body – does this challenge or simply re-coup the status quo? If the exposure to violence is unevenly distributed through the categories of race and social class, do we need to interrogate the broad concept of hegemonic masculinity? What are the linkages between periods of national crisis and the pathologising of sexuality? What are the conditions of the masculinist revival perhaps most visible currently in the United States? Moreover, what of female or LGBTQ militancy? How might we re-think subjectivity, vulnerability and violence in order to contest structures of power?

Papers might touch on (but need not be limited to):

  • Violence and representation
  • Conflict transformation and the arts
  • States of exceptionality and national crisis
  • Gendering paramilitarism and terrorism
  • Trauma and the legacies of conflict
  • Democracy and protest
  • Semantics of hygiene and purification
  • Pacifism and peace movements
  • Homonationalism
  • Civil and international wars
  • Industrial military complex
  • Securitisation and surveillance technologies
  • Incarceration, detention, internment
  • Remembrance and commemoratory practices
  • Social change and collective norms
  • Feminist and LGBTQI activism
  • Donald Trump / “masculinist revival” 
  • Menstrual politics
  • Abortion activism
  • Transgender politics
  • Anti-racist struggles 

The conference will take place at Goldsmiths (University of London), on 30th September 2017. Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words along with an academic bio to Eleanor Careless, Alex Coupe and Edwin Coomasaru at chasegsv@gmail.com by the 30th April. The symposium is part of the Gender Sexuality & Violence Research Network’s programme, supported by the AHRC/CHASE.