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[Commlist] CfP Soapbox 2.1: Contamination

Mon Jan 13 11:59:49 GMT 2020

Call for papers – /Soapbox: Journal for Cultural Analysis/ 2.1 “Contamination”

See the complete call on our website: <>

For the third issue of Soapbox, an open access graduate journal for cultural analysis, we invite submissions that critically engage with the concept of ‘contamination.’ With this theme, we encourage papers that think contamination differently from its rigid conceptualisations and prefigured connotations, as a concept that travels over neat categories, harbouring the potential of undoing borders, or linking together supposedly separate and stagnant beings.

The scope and consequences of globalised capitalist production afford us to consider that we live in a state of ubiquitous contamination. If not, as Alexis Shotwell argues, that “we have never been pure” (2016). From micro plastics to heavy metals, and radioactive compounds, the accumulation of strange molecules in the atmosphere, waters, and land is inevitably changing our climate, landscapes, and ontologies. Without underestimating the real damage caused by environmental pollution, epidemics, and nuclear waste it seems that quarantine is not an option.

Yielding towards a more productive and open approach, Anna Tsing proposes “contamination as collaboration,” or “transformation through encounter” (2015). How, then, could thinking with contamination reconfigure conditions of knowing and being? What is at stake, for actors (human and nonhuman) and objects alike, in troubling our understanding of contamination? Who gets to decide what is defined as ‘toxic’ or ‘impure’ and what is designated as ‘clean’?

We invite students, PhD candidates, and young researchers of media and communication studies and from across the humanities to submit proposals that discuss ‘contamination’ directed towards, but not limited to, the following themes:

– Contamination in a biopolitical regime: hygiene and sterility as normative forces
– Molecular unruliness: para-legal agency of bacteria, microbes, and spores
– Infectious bodies: porousness and permeability, devious sexuality, phantasies of infection – Algorithmic or digital contamination (SPAM, computer viruses, crowdsourcing)
– Uncontained, intrusive, and ‘abnormal’ subjects and subjectivity
– Infiltration and sabotage: contamination as a political subversive strategy
– Contamination and failure: corrupted files, collapsing (eco-)systems
– ‘Sublime’ landscapes: nuclear aesthetics, waste
– Immunity and sickness: epidemics, contagion, protection
– Affect (for instance, noise and chaos theory) & emotions (for instance, contagious happiness, sadness, laughter) – (Im-)purity: matters of the sacred and profane; nature/culture and similar dichotomies
– Spreading of language or communication practices
– Contagious relationality in the form of crowds, mobs, protest, and state violence
– Nationalism, identity, colonialism, and questions of assimilation

Please submit your abstract (max 300 words) to (soapboxjournal /at/ <mailto:(soapboxjournal /at/> <(soapboxjournal /at/ <mailto:(soapboxjournal /at/>> <(soapboxjournal /at/ <mailto:(soapboxjournal /at/>> by February 3. The full papers (3000-5000words) are due March 2. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions. No article processing fees will be charged.

We also welcome submissions to our website, where a variety of styles and formats is encouraged. Please get in touch to pitch new ideas or existing projects for us to feature there.

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