Call for Papers – PECANS Workshop 2013 – Encounters with vulnerability: The victim, the fragile….

An interdisciplinary conference for postgraduate and early-career academics in the area of law, gender and sexuality

Encounters with vulnerability: The victim, the fragile, the monster, the queer, the abject, the nomadic, the feminine, the shameful, and the rest

Nov 22nd, 2013

Venue: Newcastle University

Host: Gender Research Group, Newcastle University

This one-day conference seeks to bring together postgraduate and early-career scholars from across the UK and beyond to explore the general theme of ‘Encounters with vulnerability: the victim, the fragile, the monster, the queer, the abject, the nomadic, the feminine, the shameful, and the rest’. This interdisciplinary conference in the field of Law, Gender and Sexuality’ will investigate what lies beneath vulnerability, how it is deployed, what it calls for, and how it is denied, among other. Despite its ubiquity, the concept of vulnerability has been fine-tuned in the last decade or so. It has been used to explain and counteract the different dimensions of how the ‘subject’ and the body that it inhabits are deployed – represented, regulated, normalised – through atomistic notions, without relations. To the extent that normative orders, from politics to law, assume or idealize disembodied subjectivity, it encourages us to re-encounter and re-think the different forms of relating to embodiment, with vulnerability as one of its aspects.

At the same time, there seems to be a tendency to think about the vulnerable body only when it is injured and demanding healing from violence.  Some argue that its normative appeals remain elusive or even that it too-easily accommodates neo-liberal frames of governance. But ‘vulnerability’ could be more than that, even without a normative substance, as it authorises ethical and political provocations, that open new paths to engage with care, relationality, and  different experiences of embodiment.

Within this context some, but by no means all, of the questions we will seek to draw attention to are:

  • What are the effects of considering vulnerability as the basis for subjectivities and its impact on identities, i.e. human/ non-human/post-human, sexual differences, queer, etc. How does it impact on i.e. sexual rights, economic rights, political rights, among others?
  • How do vulnerability theories, encounters, politics, etc. alter our relationship to embodiment?
  • Is it possible to accommodate vulnerability into politics, law, and justice? If possible, how does adopting a vulnerability perspective transform, radicalize, heal or retreat from political, legal, discursive, material spaces?
  •  Who is authorized to speak for the vulnerable? How is this authorization legitimized?
  •  What tools do ethical theorisations of ‘vulnerability’ or ‘precariousness’ offer to those attempting to collectively challenge forms of state violence, such as border controls, or the enforced precarity of global capitalism?

We invite papers addressing these and other related questions for inclusion in the conference program. Abstracts of no more than 200 words should be sent to Nayeli Urquiza by August 19th. Successful participants will be notified no later than September.


Registration is free and there will be small subsidies available to support travel and accommodation costs for postgraduate students. The application for funding can be found here. The deadline for bursary applications is August 19th.  

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