Puncta. Journal of Critical Phenomenology: “Critical Phenomenology of the We” – CfP Reminder

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Call for Papers for a Special Issue of Puncta. Guest editors Tris Hedges and Julia Zaenker (Center for Subjectivity Research).

Puncta. Journal of Critical Phenomenology
Special Issue: “Critical Phenomenology of the We”

Phenomenology offers not only incisive analyses of intentionality, experience, selfhood, empathy and interpersonal understanding, but also quite sophisticated investigations of collective intentionality, affective sharing, social participation, communal experience, and group-identity. Indeed, while starting out with an interest in the individual mind, phenomenologists began exploring dyadic forms of interpersonal relations shortly before the start of World War I, and were deeply engaged in extensive analyses of communal forms of intentionality during the interwar period – at a time when nationalism was on the rise. Today, the “We” has not lost its place in philosophical, political, or popular discourse. Within the last decade, phenomenologists have shown how phenomenology can contribute to the “discovery of the We” (Szanto & Moran 2016). These explorations have rediscovered lesser known early phenomenological writings on sociality by Gerda Walther, Edith Stein, Max Scheler or Aaron Gurwitsch and highlighted their relevance for contemporary problems in social cognition theory and analytic social ontology. Phenomenological approaches to sociality, we-experiences, and community, however, too-often concern themselves with ideal social ontological entities rather than the non-ideal social reality we find ourselves in.
A critical phenomenology of the We explores new lines of questioning at the intersection of phenomenology of sociality and critical phenomenology, putting pressure on the allegedly neutral and unpolitical nature of the recent phenomenological discovery of the We. This special issue serves the purpose of demonstrating how critical perspectives both on and within phenomenological analyses can be enriching for philosophical discussions of the We and sociality more broadly. Taking critical phenomenology as the guiding methodology, we foreground the constitutive significance that lived experiences of marginalisation, exclusion, social identity, conflict, ambiguity, and asymmetry have on experiencing ourselves as part of a We. How does the recent critical turn in phenomenology support, extend, qualify, or challenge phenomenological analyses of sociality? How can phenomenological descriptions of social phenomena point out pathways for social and political transformation and change? A critical phenomenology of the We investigates the question of “who are we?” as socially situated, historically contextualised, and culturally specific subjects.
We encourage original submissions on the theme Critical Phenomenology of the We which critically engage with themes found within both classical and contemporary phenomenological discussions of the We. We particularly encourage submissions that speak to one (or more) of the following lines of inquiry:
(1) For one, we are looking for contributions that take a clear starting point in lived experiences and real-life cases. Possible themes for such inquiries are, but not limited to, the ways in which group identity informs, obscures, and motivates acts of discrimination, normalisation, and oppression; how feelings of belonging and community are manufactured for exploitative ends, the role of collective memory and collective imagination for marginalised and historically oppressed groups; how narratives are collectively constructed to both hide and bring to light past and present injustices and their complex temporality.
(2) We also welcome papers that critically engage with classical and contemporary debates on the ‘we’. How might we challenge and contest the valuing of community over society we find in Husserl, Walther, and Stein? How has the paradigm of European culture shaped the debate and how might we look beyond it? Do phenomenological analyses of second person engagement overlook the constitutive significance of the third person?
(3) Finally, we are interested in contributions that show the relevance of analyses from early 20th century phenomenology for contemporary debates within the philosophy of sociality. Besides the likes of Merleau-Ponty, Fanon, Beauvoir, and Sartre, how can the likes of Edith Stein, Gerda Walther, Max Scheler, and Aron Gurwitsch enrich recent more political engagements with the phenomenological method? In what sense can the homeworld/alienworld distinction in Husserl’s generative phenomenology help us make sense of concrete intergroup dynamics?
With these themes in mind, a (non-exhaustive) list of possible topics to be examined under a phenomenological lens is:

• The We of political movements, protest, and resistance
• Group, collective and social identities
• Group antagonisms and modes of domination
• Inter- and intragroup relations of solidarity and care
• The role of the ‘Them’ or the ‘Third in the constitution of the ‘We’
• Asymmetrical reciprocity, empathy, and language breakdowns
• Critiques of the relation between familiarity and strangeness
• Feelings of (non-)belonging
• Collective imagination and memory
• Shared narratives of political, cultural, and transgenerational communities
• National and transnational identities in classical and contemporary phenomenology
• Questioning the We of philosophy and academia

Guest editors
Tris Hedges (Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen)
Julia Zaenker (Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen)

Submission Guidelines
We invite any original paper which engages with the critical turn in phenomenology in relation to the We. Submissions must be prepared for double anonymous review and manuscripts should be between 6000-8000 words.
In addition, submissions must include an abstract of not more than 150 words along with 4-6 keywords.
All manuscripts must be in American English and prepared following the Chicago Manual of Style (seventeenth edition). Authors are expected to use inclusive language. For further information as to submission guidelines, see here.
Authors should submit anonymised manuscripts by emailing them to [email protected].
For information about Puncta. and to explore previous issues, see https://puncta.journals.villanova.edu/.
For further information or informal enquiries about the special issue please also contact [email protected],

All inquiries about manuscript submission should be directed to [email protected] after consulting the submission guidelines.

Important dates:
Deadline for submissions: 30 April 2024
Expected publication: Spring 2025