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CFP: Empowered: Agency, Authority, and its Limitations: SHU Humanities Postgraduate Conference 2018

Submission deadline: March 1, 2018

Conference date(s):
May 31, 2018 - June 1, 2018

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Conference Venue:

SHSU Postgraduate Research Students’ Society
Sheffield, United Kingdom


Agency, self-determination and the freedom to act with independence are vital elements in conceptions and contestations of identities and the empowerment of disenfranchised groups or communities. Authority claimed or conferred imposes variable restrictions on both parties, and it is into this disputed space between different perspectives that debates on empowerment of individuals or groups, or the perceived dispossession of opposing or originating parties, typically take place. The gaining of agency, authority or representation can mean the restriction of those same freedoms to act for others.

This conference seeks to examine and discuss different conceptions of agency, empowerment, and authority in imagination and practice. It will look to explore intellectual ideas underpinning the realities of authorisation, power, dispossession and contestation, and address the complex web of relationships between empowerment and markers of difference within and between social groups or individuals.

The organisers welcome presentations of research from postgraduates of any background. Papers may be related to any practice of inhabiting a disciplinary or inter-disciplinary space, to any research themes in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and beyond, and to the practice of defining relevance from within any field to the wider society in which it is situated.

Interpretations of the theme of interest to the conference may include:

  • Narratives of empowerment, or the winning, conferring or growth of agency or authority
  • Experiences of disempowerment, removal or undermining of agency or authority, real or imagined
  • Clashes of agency and authority between social groups and/or individuals
  • Intersections/conflicts of identity, overcoming taboos or restrictions – ethnicity, nationality, gender, class
  • Considerations of moral agency, self-interest, authority in concept or practice
  • Power relationships – equal or unequal, nurturing, subjugating
  • Discourses of agency, authority and credibility, or disempowerment and dispossession
  • Intersections of artistic and creative expressions of empowerment with social and political experiences

The conference will take place at Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union on Thursday 31st May and Friday 1st June 2018. There will be no fee for attendees. Advice on travel and accommodation will be provided nearer to the time.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers or posters on any thematically or contextually relevant topic from postgraduate students and early career researchers within twelve months of completion of their PhD. Proposals for the conference should take the form of a 300-word abstract of the paper, presentation, performance, or the poster, with a separate title and a 100-word biography of the applicant. Collaborative presentations are welcome, as are panels of three related or complimentary papers or presentations.

We are particularly keen on encouraging debate and collaboration across a broad spectrum of disciplinary boundaries and interests. These may include history, heritage studies, literature, linguistics, philosophy, politics, geography, sociology, tourism, art history, film studies, architecture, anthropology, and academic public engagement in any field. Alternative and creative forms of presentation are particularly to be encouraged.

We also wish to actively encourage proposals from practice based postgraduate students for performance focused presentations. These may include poetry readings, musical performances, dance, drama or comedy, film or any other artistic medium that is able to effectively explore our theme. Practice based applicants may adapt the proposal requirements to the form and medium of their choice.

Applications should be submitted to  by the deadline of 1st March 2018. Decisions on inclusion will be announced by 9th March 2018. Please direct any further inquiries to the above email address. We are also on Twitter so please follow us @shsuprssand keep in touch.

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