eipcp News
03 2016

On the Edge: Genealogies and Futures of Precarity

Call for Papers

Annual Graduate Conference of the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology,
Central European University, Budapest

Conference date: June 3-4, 2016
Proposal submission deadline: April 10, 2016

Keynote speaker confirmed:
Isabell Lorey (European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies)

The Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Central European University in Budapest welcomes paper proposals for its annual graduate conference, taking place June 3-4, 2016. This year’s conference title is On the Edge: Genealogies and Futures of Precarity.

Conference Abstract:

The emergence of ‘precarity’ as a ‘worldwide symptom of neoliberalism’ signals both a socio-economic condition and an ontological experience under the global regime of late capitalism. In the current political moment, precarity has come to designate a shift away from job security, an erosion of social belonging, and a loss of well-being for a neoliberalized citizenry, whose daily lives are increasingly marked by economic instability, uncertain futures, risky livelihoods, and a perceived dependence on the political will of elite actors. Such precarious shifts, furthermore, are deeply embedded in an intersectional hierarchization that signifies some bodies as more precarious and less grievable, with relating differentiations in social positions of insecurity.

In tracing the conceptual lineage of ‘precarity’ - from Marx and Polanyi to Butler and Bourdieu - we can explore how the state of precariousness has been recognized and explored, and question whether it has disrupted or reinforced the conceptual categories of class. We take a cue from Isabell Lorey’s work (2015), which employed and refined this genealogy in order to distinguish between precariousness, precarity, and governmental precarization as a mode of being, a category of order and, respectively, modes of governing. We are interested in exploring whether this approach can help us to understand our current predicaments and move beyond them.

This conference hopes to unravel the analytical and political potentialities of the term ‘precarity', exploring how uncertainty and insecurity are increasingly being structurally built into contemporary modes of being, working, and governing of people. Both reflecting on the state of socio-economic precarity in the world today as well as extending that conceptual framework to explore precarity as a mode of being that pervades affective lifeworlds, this conference aspires to open up new perspectives for recognizing the problems we now face and galvanizing social movements to face them more effectively. We are looking for bold new explorations of the use of ‘precarity’ as a disruptive conceptual framework, crossing and clarifying bounded political, economic, and social categories.

We welcome abstracts for proposed paper presentations from advanced Master students, PhD candidates and junior researchers in the social sciences that employ the concept of precarity in their research. Some of the topics and questions we would like to consider, though not exclusively, include:

•    precarity as an analytical tool and alternative political discourse: How does the concept of ‘precarity’ assist us in understanding current and past conditions of being/living/working/governing?

•    ethnographically-grounded case studies of precarity: work environments; migration experiences and refugee lives; gender, disability and racial discriminations; contexts of war and violence; etcetera.

•    the notion of the ‘precarious city:’ how can we make sense of the production of urban precarity?

•    the relation between precarity and consumption

•    social movements and mobilization: how is ‘precarity’ being mobilized as a banner for contemporary political protest?

•    precarity and the university: how do increasingly precarious conditions within academia impact the prospects for critical scholarship?

•    precarious and shifting constructions of identities in narratives of religion, nationalism, and ethnicity

•    the relationality of precarity: how is precarity defined in relation to other precarious lives? How is it related to stability, calculability and expectability?

•    precarity and modes of governing, dominating and control

•    the relationship between precarious labor and precarious life

•    precarization and neoliberalization: How can we explain the relation between precarity and neoliberal notions of freedom, self management, and entrepreneurship?

Submissions should include a title, an abstract of approximately 300 words and a short biography including your name, institution and email contact. We hope to provide accommodation for conference participants in our university dormitory. Please let us know if you would need to be considered for this when sending the abstract.

Please send your proposals to precarityceu2016@gmail.com by April 10, 2016. We will send the notifications of acceptance by mid to late April. We look forward to hearing from you.