Call For Papers

CUNY Graduate Center English Student Association Conference:


Conference date: Friday, April 12, 2019 

CUNY Graduate Center
New York, NY 

Michelle Wright, Emory University
Rafael Walker, Baruch College

“Black Lives” has emerged in recent years as a conceptual touchstone following the wake of Black Lives Matter, a galvanizing social movement of public protest against the persistence of institutionalized forms of anti-black violence that besiege Black individuals and communities on a daily basis, both within the United States and across a range of geopolitical contexts. The phrase implicitly challenges nationalist and global concepts of humanity that do not include blackness as a viable sign of life and citizenship. As critics such as Paul Gilroy, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Robert Reid-Pharr and  Henry Louis Gates Jr. have noted, “universal humanism” has been historically built upon a constitutive rejection of black being. To push back against such entrenched conceptual repudiations of black particularity, we take a cue from Jamaican philosopher and novelist Sylvia Wynter, who argues that black particularity paradoxically retains a utopian impulse for recognizing “our collective agency and authorship of our genres of being human” (2006). We intend for the conference to respond to the urgent need to think about the impact and meaning of “Black Lives” both as a touchstone for contemporary activism as well as a scholarly heuristic for research across a range of fields and disciplines. By doing so, we hope to make resonant the potentiality of blackness to signify as a radical node of meaning and being across a range of identitarian and relational articulations.

We seek papers and panel proposals that take up any aspect of “Black Lives” understood broadly as an entry point into research in, but not limited to, any of the areas listed below. We are especially interested in workshop proposals that address the necessary rituals and habits for self-care, success/pushing back in a hostile workplace, building and maintaining your village, and contemporary radical Black artists/activists:

  • Regional and global Black activisms and cross-struggle affinities
  • African-American and African Diasporic Literary Studies
  • Contemporary theory regarding blackness and black subjectivity, including Afro-Pessimism, Afro-Futurism, Black Atlantic Studies, Black Pacific Studies
  • Critical Archive Studies
  • Critical Science Studies
  • Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Deconstruction and Biopolitics
  • Black cultural histories and Blues historiography
  • Blackness and “modernity”/globalization
  • Middle Passage theory
  • Black sovereignty and selfhood
  • Critical Race studies
  • Blackness, Brownness, and Affect
  • Black, Queer and Trans Feminisms
  • Queer Sexualities
  • Queer of Color Critique, Queer Theory, Critical Trans Studies
  • Native-American/First Nations studies
  • Blackness and Jewishness
  • Postcolonial studies
  • Disabilities studies
  • Performance studies/Body as Archive
  • Prison abolitionism
  • Critical interventions in Post-Humanism, New Materialism, and Object Oriented Ontology
  • Black utopianisms and Marxisms
  • Black aesthetics and/or aestheticism
  • The Black Radical Tradition, Black Power and the Black Arts movement
  • The New Negro (Harlem) Renaissance/The New Black (post-Civil Rights)
  • Intersectionality
  • White Feminism/Womanism
  • Black literacies and critical pedagogy

Blackness and religion

Please submit an abstract of up to 250 words, a short biographical description, and your contact information by February 28, 2019. Proposals and questions should be sent to conference organizers at

Conference Organizers: Makeba Lavan, Ryan Tracy, Shoumik Battacharya, LeiLani Dowell, Daniel Hengel