Friday, January 24, 2014

Ontologies of Conflict

From an email I received:

Ontologies of Conflict

3rd Critical Studies Research Group International Conference

School of Humanities, University of Brighton

16-17th June 2014

In recent times there has been a renewed interest in extending the understanding of conflict in both its scope and its effects; this has brought to the fore questions surrounding the relationship between conflict and ontologies. Conflict can now be understood as encompassing a broad range of phenomena, from its traditional preserve of violent confrontation, to structural or systemic violences, to the ‘private’ as well as the ‘public’, and to cultural and social antagonisms. Rather than simply a negative notion, positive valences of conflict have been embraced, whether from the neoliberal logic of competition or from the post-structural valorisation of ‘dissensus’. At the same time conflict’s traditional setting - war - has undergone a transformation, the forces of globalisation prioritising time over space, catalysing rapid technological change, and resulting in a shift in the strategies of war and in the relationship between the embodied human and the new technologies of injuring.

As our understanding of conflict broadens and deepens, and the new forms of war we wage (or are exposed to) alter dominant understandings of violence and bodily destruction, what effect does this have on the nature of selfhood and the worlds in which we live? In what ways has ontology itself become a target and site of violence, state or otherwise? Can conflict be universalised, or can it only be understood in its particular relationships to gender, race, class, sexuality and disability? In what ways are our understandings of conflict framed by underpinning ontologies? When we conceptualise a world mired in violence, what ontologies do we presuppose? What ethics can we draw from an analysis of conflict? Who is the privileged ‘we’ capable of explaining the topic of ‘conflict’, one of whose effects, it could be argued, is the very interruption and deconstruction of explanatory frameworks?

Topics for discussion and presentation might include, but are not limited to, the following:

Structural violence and the transformation of the self/world.

Language and conflict: is language itself inherently, inexorably, violent?

The relationship between the global and the local in conflict.

Past, present and future paradigms underpinning the logic of conflicts.

Ontology in time and space: contexts and scenarios for an ontology of conflict.

Empathy, technology and the politics of (dis)embodied violence.

Conflict and/as the political.

Memory, narrative and the transformation of conflict.

Conflict and the (re)construction of selves.

The conference is interdisciplinary in its scope, and is particularly (but not exclusively) aimed at postgraduate colleagues working in philosophy, political theory, history, law, sociology, war and peace studies, memory studies, gender studies, international relations, cultural studies and geography.

The conference fee will be £60 (waged), £20 (unwaged / student).

Abstracts of no more than two hundred words should be sent to Tim Huzar: The deadline for abstracts is Monday 31st March.

The Critical Studies Research Group (CSRG) was founded in 2011 by postgraduate students in the School of Humanities, University of Brighton, with the aim of providing an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of critical ideas and practices in light of the socio-political struggles we face today. The challenges that interdisciplinarity might pose are counteracted by our shared interest in the role and scope of critical thought and practice in the context of contemporary capitalism.

For more information on the CSRG, please visit:

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