CfA – “Us and Them: Phenomenological Perspectives in Dialogue”

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A Call for Abstracts for a conference at the University of Copenhagen, South Campus, Denmark, 5th – 6th October 2023.

Call for Abstracts
“Us and Them: Phenomenological Perspectives in Dialogue”
University of Copenhagen, South Campus
5-6 October 2023

In classical phenomenology we find reflections on collective intentionality, community, Mitsein, fellow-feeling, interaction, and empathy, which have in turn motivated recent dialogue between phenomenology and the social and cognitive sciences. What has often remained in the background, however, is the question of how to conceive of the relationship between ‘Us’ and ‘Them’. This draws attention to issues of exclusion, marginalisation, national identity, social identities, (non-)belonging, and conflict. In this conference we thus want to explore the various ways in which ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ are related, interdependent, and stand in opposition to one another. The aim is to not only reflect on and better understand the Us/Them dichotomy, but also to put pressure on its assumed dichotomous nature.

Central questions that will be addressed include:

  • What is the relation of the “Us” to the “Them”? Is it for example one of conjunction, antagonism, or negation?
  • What material, normative, affective, or epistemic common ground is taken-for-granted in the assertion of an “Us”?
  • What are the limitations of distinguishing between inter- and intra-group distinctions? How might phenomenology expand on or show the limits of social scientific research and vice versa?
  • What role does communication play in mitigating or overcoming the Us/Them dichotomy?
  • In what ways are different institutions oriented around an implicitly demarcated sense of “Us”? How are similarities and differences rhetorically and discursively exaggerated for political and economic purposes?

The organisers particularly encourage papers that bring classical, critical, and applied phenomenological approaches into dialogue with the following:

  • Political philosophy
  • Critical theory
  • Feminist philosophy
  • Social psychology
  • Social identity theory
  • Discourse analysis
  • Political science
  • Queer theory
  • Gender studies
  • Trans* studies and trans* philosophy
  • Postcolonial and decolonial studies
  • Sociology
  • Anthropology
  • Social ontology
  • Critical race studies
  • Migration studies
  • Affective sciences
  • Disability studies

All speakers will be expected to present in-person. Audience participation will be facilitated via Zoom. Speakers will be given 20 minutes to present their paper, along with 10 minutes for Q&A. Papers are expected to address any topic under the heading of ‘Us and Them’ broadly construed.
The organisers are hoping this event, alongside a conference organized on Critical Phenomenology of the We, will lead to a special issue involving some of the keynote speakers from either conference. Any paper presented at the Us and Them conference will also be encouraged to submit their full papers for consideration.

Submission Guidelines
The organisers invite submissions of titles and abstracts (300-500 words) for individual papers. Please prepare abstracts for anonymous review in word or PDF form.
Submissions should be sent to Julia Zaenker [email protected]. Please use the following title in the subject line of your email: “Proposal – Us and Them conference”. Personal information (author name and affiliation) should be included in the body of the email.

Important Dates
Latest date to submit titles and abstracts to Julia Zaenker [email protected] (300-500 words): 30 April 2023
Notification of reviewers’ decision: 31 May 2023

Questions and more information
Please direct any questions to Tristan Hedges [email protected]
For further information see: