Call for Papers (Extended! 07/26/19)


Graduate Student Conference
Johns Hopkins University
Department of Anthropology

September 20 – 21, 2019

Keynote Speaker: Mythri Jegathesen, Santa Clara University

Questions of how solidarity forms—and why and when it sticks—have been foundational to the social sciences: early scholars were attentive to social cohesion (Durkheim 1893) and class unity (Marx 1852); more recently, the notion of solidarity has been conceptualized in relation to performative assemblies of social movements and networks of collective action (Castells 2012; Shantz 2000; Barry 2001; Graeber 2009; Butler 2015). Much of this literature, however, assumes a certain picture of politics and activism that is spectacular, demand-driven, involves protest-action, and receives media attention in varying degrees. What other models of politics, which may be more quotidian or ephemeral, are available to consider as the ground on which quieter forms of solidarities are formed? These forms of solidarities are often enfolded into the everyday, and are not necessarily coded as “solidarity”—they may emerge as forms of care (Das 2007, Laugier 2006, Ferrarese 2016) or evasion and subtle non-cooperation against oppressors (Scott 1985). How can we think of the emergent forms solidarity takes in these different contexts? And are these subtler forms of solidarity engaging with, or in tension with, the solidarity concerns apparent in more spectacular politics?  These models of social and political unity appear in movements as diverse as BDS, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, Antifa, and protest action to address climate change, and the struggle for indigenous rights, on the one hand, and on the other, via a more subtle political engagement such as through the “quiet encroachments” of streets vendors, everyday resistance of waste pickers, or the collective labor carried out through kinship ties to endure conditions of warfare (Bayat 2010, Al-Mohammad 2012, Millar 2018). Can solidarities across these different political engagements take place or be thought of in conjunction with one another?

More generally, what are the practices through which solidarity is engendered and the networks through which solidarity flows? In what ways are futures envisioned through solidarity? How are relations of solidarity embodied and sustained? What are the limits of solidarity—for instance, in capturing the particularities and heterogeneities of individuals and communities supported? What are the pressures that changing legal, political-economic and environmental-medical regimes place on actual forms of solidarity? And which subjects are included and excluded from networks of solidarity? We want to consider how our understanding of solidarity might be troubled if we question a simple divide between “the progressive agenda” and the politics of the Far-Right. This understanding of solidarity may also look different when we destabilize the normative values embedded in progressive advocacy. How can we make sense also of the ways in which the vocabulary and logic of solidarity are espoused by fascist, racist and misogynist collective movements? Finally,  we ask: In addition to being an ethnographic or conceptual object, what is the methodological import of solidarity, and how might social scientists think of forging solidarities with our interlocutors?

We invite paper contributions from across disciplines as well as multi-modal presentations (performance, poetry, video, sonic ethnography, or demonstration), which explore the complex engagements with solidarity that emerge from—and respond to—our field’s history, methods, and modes of analysis.

We look forward to receiving diverse submissions and thinking collectively through the possibilities of solidarity.

Submission Guidelines

The conference will take place on Friday and Saturday, September 20-21, 2019 at the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. We encourage submissions from graduate students across disciplines as well as artists and practitioners. A limited number of travel grants will be available to help defray the costs of attendance. Details on how to apply for these funds will be provided to accepted presenters.

Submission of full papers is required no later than two weeks prior to the start of the conference.

Individual Presentation Submissions

Please submit a concise abstract (max. 300 words) to by July 26, 2019. Submissions should include a brief bio (ie, presenter’s name, program, year of study, research focus, and contact information). For multi-modal presentations, please indicate equipment requirements.

Panel Submissions

Please submit a concise panel abstract along with three to four individual paper abstracts (max. 300 words each) to by July 26, 2019.