Call for Papers
Theme: Political Demonologies
Subtitle: Race, Gender, and Coloniality in a Postsecular Age
Type: International and Interdisciplinary Conference
Institution: University College Dublin
Location: Dublin (Ireland)
The last decade has seen growing public awareness of right-wing
populism and authoritarianism across Europe and the Americas, from
Orbán’s Hungary and Putin’s Russia to Trump’s America and Bolsonaro’s
Brazil. These nationalist resurgences are not isolated, but often
draw on networks and ideas that are distinctly transnational, whether
that be the “Eurasianism” of Aleksandr Dugin, or the critical role of
conservative charismatic and evangelical Christians in the elections
of Trump and Bolsonaro. Such movements rely upon what have been
called “political demonologies” — frameworks of demonization and
dehumanization that police borders around “self” and “other,”
conjuring folk devils that embody anxieties of societal change and
galvanizing adaptive regimes of exclusion that are more or less
secularized in places and fully theological and non-secular in
others. Religious dimensions of these frameworks are often
underexamined despite reactionary discourses often articulating
themselves in religious terms or claiming religious justifications,
perhaps clearest in invocations of a “Judeo-Christian” civilization
besieged from without by an Islamic Other and undermined from within
by the presence and accommodation of gender and sexual variance and
religious and ethnic difference. Rather than signalling something
new, however, the exclusionary systems brought to bear in these
invocations depend upon pre-existing systems of epistemic and
material violence: colonialism and neocolonialism, slavery and its
afterlives, and the structures of racial-sexual ordering these
inscribed and maintain, as well as a theopolitical substrate that has
long worked to stratify humanity within economies of salvation and
damnation, being and non-being.
This conference aims to critically examine how constructions of
religion, race, coloniality, gender, secularity, and sexuality
operate within the discursive and affective frameworks of
contemporary systems of exclusion and erasure. Surges in reactionary
violence and the expansion of state regimes of surveillance and
security demonstrate that the political demonologies circulating
today are not only comorbid but rely on deep-rooted systems and
structures, including the global circulations of racial capitalism
and the matrix of coloniality. These structures, their genealogies
and legacies, are ones that have come under critical and creative
engagement in critical theory and cultural studies, notably in the
areas of queer dissidence, afro-pessimism, and decolonial critique.
However, many critical insights from these fields have not yet been
brought into sustained conversation with scholarship in sociology,
religious studies, or politics and international relations. Bringing
together an international and interdisciplinary body of scholars, the
conference will bring these fields into fruitful and timely
conversation. In doing so, it will not only chart current reactionary
politics but critically excavate the structures they draw upon,
exacerbate, and rearticulate — antiblackness, misogyny, queer- and
transphobia, settler colonialism, and global coloniality — and how
these distinct systems of marginalization are mobilized in ways that
both reinforce and deconstruct one another.
Please submit a paper title, abstract of 250–300 words, a short
biography, and contact details to firstname.lastname@example.org and
email@example.com. We also welcome applications for full panels
of 3-4 papers. Please put the phrase ‘Political Demonologies
Abstract’ in the subject header.
The deadline for paper and panel proposals is March 1, 2020. We will
make decisions on paper and panel submissions on a rolling basis to
help facilitate participant’s planning for conference attendance.
Possible topics of discussion include, but are not limited to:
- The racialization of religious identities.
- The theological genealogy of contemporary secularised patterns of
- Intersections of vectors of prejudice (for example, queer- and
transphobia, antiblackness, anti-indigeneity, antisemitism,
- The global material and ideological cross-pollination of
- Christianity's relationship to "the West" and its ties to
secularised discourses of othering.
- Christian demonology (past and present) and its relation to
projects of epistemic and material violence.
- Sovereignty and unsovereignty.
- The conscription of non-European subjects into the project of
- The intersections of queer- and transphobia with surveillance and
- The enduring impact of colonialism on categories of religion, race,
gender, and sexuality.
- Social death, antiblackness, and (post)coloniality.
- Ideological, material, and historical dimensions of globalization,
and reactions to them.
- Neoliberalism's relation to contemporary religious and secular
systems of exclusion.
- Modernity/coloniality and (the crisis of) American Empire.
- Racial capitalism, its development, adaptations, and effects.
- The rise of and cultural work performed by "gender ideology" in
contemporary queer- and transphobia.
- The value of critical theory frameworks such as queer dissidence,
afro-pessimism, and decolonial critique for thining (through) the
- Tensions between queer theory, afro-pessimism, and theories of
- Information, narrative, and power.
- The influence of conspiracy theories and conspiracist subcultures.
- "Globalism," antisemitism, and the state of Israel.
- The ideology of the "clash of civilizations."
- Cultural constructions of "evil" and theirpolitical mobilization.
- Affective dimensions of reactionary politics and of resistance.
- Intersections of Islamophobia and antiblackness.
- Media representations and their capacity to reinforce and subvert
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
C. Heike Schotten (University of Massachusetts, Boston)
Selamawit D. Terrefe (Tulane University)
S. Jonathon O'Donnell, PhD
IRC Postdoctoral Fellow
University College Dublin