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CFP: 2021 Cultural Studies Association (CSA) Conference

Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Cultural Studies Association (USA)
June 10-12, 2021
Final Deadline for Submissions: December 15th, 2020

This Year’s Theme: Anti-Bodies

The Cultural Studies Association (CSA) invites proposals for participation in its nineteenth annual meeting. Proposals on all topics relevant to cultural studies will be considered, with priority given to those that engage this year’s theme of “Anti-Bodies.” Membership in the CSA is not required to submit a proposal, but is required in order to present at the conference. This year’s conference will be entirely virtual. 

We take up the theme of “Anti-Bodies” as a way to illuminate how the COVID pandemic is intensifying and making more overtly visible pre-existing social conditions that continue to plague contemporary culture. We call for proposals that explore how the metaphor of “anti-bodies” offers a lens to analyze these issues in light of the current moment. We especially encourage proposals that attend to the premise of the “anti-”, in either its positive or negative political valence, such as the rise of anti-racism in opposition to anti-blackness and other forms of injustice and their attendant contestations. We are also interested in proposals that examine institutional structures or social relations that are “anti-body” in terms of race, gender, sexuality, and/or disability, such as criminal justice, immigration, and policing structures. Proposals might consider “anti-bodies” in terms of the corporeal dimensions of techno-utopian visions of the present and future, especially as it pertains to online spaces and social interactions under communicative capitalism. Additionally, we aim to continue developing conversations from last year’s conference on “sovereignty”— focusing on questions about “bodies” as subject to biopolitical concerns about immunity, subjectivity,  and autonomy, especially in relation to notions of the body politic. 

Considered literally as biological proteins, antibodies also allow us to explore the intersections of science and culture. For example, proposals might ask questions about the ontology of bodies and instruments of measurement of the body, narrative medicine, race and immunity, the environmental disparities of epidemics, the semiotics of false negatives, reactivity and reactions, and antibody testing, the culture of epidemiology, and the politics of antiscience. We also invite interventions from legal perspectives that consider issues such as the meaning of qualified immunity, the social construction of “alien” foreign bodies as invasive agents, or studies of space, place and mobility that recast borders in terms of the permeability of membranes or the impenetrability of walls. Work in the digital humanities that examines the cultural rhetoric of the post-humanities, the politics of data visualization, epistemological questions about risk and uncertainty, and investigations of the relationship between data science, policy, and public discourse are especially encouraged.

Engaging with the Theme
As with past conferences, we welcome proposals from all disciplines and topics relevant to cultural studies, including literature, history, sociology, geography, politics, anthropology, communications, popular culture, cultural theory, queer studies, critical race studies, feminist studies, postcolonial studies, legal studies, science studies, media and film studies, material culture studies, platform studies, affect studies, visual art and performance studies.

Topics that applicants might address include, but are not limited to:

  • The biopolitics of COVID bodies and “anti-bodies”
  • Police brutality, surveillance, and social control  
  • Black maternal health and reproductive justice 
  • Medical-Industrial Complex, vaccine races, and capitalism
  • Incarceration, detention, immigration
  • Resistance and uprisings, Black Lives Matter, anti-fascism
  • Voting rights 
  • Recent shifts in illness and disability as metaphor
  • Labor, care, and “essential” and “non-essential” bodies
  • Defiance, denial and conspiracy theories as auto-immunity
  • Data visualization in virology and epidemiology
  • Apocalyptic imagination and authoritarianism
  • Necropolitics and “anti-body” political violence, fast and slow
  • Lockdown protests and anti-lockdown discourse, right and left
  • Public health vs. private data: the politics of track and trace
  • Online teaching and big tech’s takeover of higher education
  • Queer pandemic temporality
  • COVID in the environmental imagination
  • Health infrastructure and feminist politics of care
  • Open access, open science and piracy responses to the pandemic
  • Ableism and heteronormative demands on the body
  • Survivorship, allyship and care community-building

The CSA aims to provide multiple and diverse spaces for the cross-pollination of art, activism, pedagogy, design, and research by bringing together participants from a variety of positions inside and outside the university. Therefore, while we welcome traditional academic papers and panels, we also encourage contributions that experiment with alternative formats and intervene in the traditional disciplinary formations and exclusionary conceptions and practices of the academic (see session format options listed below). We are particularly interested in proposals for sessions designed to document and advance existing forms of collective action or catalyze new collaborations. We encourage submissions from individuals working beyond the boundaries of the university: artists, activists, independent scholars, professionals, community organizers, and community college educators.

*If you deferred your 2020 conference paper, please resubmit it to the 2021 conference to ensure it is successfully rolled over into this year’s conference. There will be a box in the submission page that indicates you plan to present your deferred paper in this year’s conference, so please check it if it applies to your deferred submission.  For your reference, all 2020 CSA conference submission information remains available on the EasyChair page for the 2020 conference:

The 2021 conference will take place virtually with details forthcoming. 

Important Dates:

●      Submission System Open: Friday, October 16, 2021 
●      Final Deadline for Submissions: Sunday, December 15, 2020 
●      Early Bird Registration: Wednesday, October 14, 2020 until Friday, March 1, 2021
●      Monday, January 18, 2020: Notifications sent out
●      Friday, March 1, 2021: Early Registration Ends, Regular Registration Rate Begins
●      Friday, May, 7, 2021: Last day to register to participate in the conference. If you do not register by this date and are not a current member, your name will be dropped from the program.

All proposals should be submitted through Easy Chair using the following link:

The submission system will be open by Friday, October 16, 2020. Please prepare all the materials required to propose your session according to the given directions before you begin electronic submission. All program information–names, presentation titles, and institutional affiliations–will be based on initial conference submissions. Please avoid lengthy presentation and session titles, use normal capitalization and standard fonts, and include your name and affiliations as you would like them to appear on the conference program schedule.

INSTITUTIONAL MEMBERSHIPS includes individual memberships for up to seven affiliate faculty, staff and students at member institutions. Graduate students who wish to submit proposals are strongly encouraged to speak with their Department Chair or Program Director about institutional membership and where possible, make use of the complimentary individual memberships and therefore reduced registration rates. Full benefits of institutional membership are described here:

In order to participate in the conference and be listed in the program, all those accepted to participate must register before Friday, May 7, 2021. And remember: registration for the conference and membership in the CSA are now combined transactions.

Register here: 

This year’s conference will be entirely virtual with synchronous online panels hosted over Zoom.
While we accept individual paper proposals, we especially encourage submissions of pre-constituted sessions. Proposals with participants from multiple institutions will be given preference.
All sessions are 90 minutes long. All conference formats are intended to encourage the presentation and discussion of projects at different stages of development and to foster intellectual exchange and collaboration. Please feel free to adapt the suggested formats or propose others in order to suit your session’s goals. If you have any questions, please address them to Michelle Fehsenfeld at:

PRE-CONSTITUTED PAPER PANELS: Pre-constituted panels allow 3-4 individuals to each offer 15-20 minute presentations, leaving 30-45 minutes of the session for questions and discussion. Panels should have a chair/moderator and may have a discussant. Proposals for pre-constituted panels must include: the title of the panel; the name, title affiliation, and contact information of the panel organizer; the names, titles, affiliations, and email addresses of all panelists, and a chair and/or discussant; a description of the panel’s topic (<500 words); and abstracts for each presentation (<150 words). Pre-constituted panels are preferred to individual paper submissions.

INDIVIDUAL PAPERS: Individuals may submit a proposal to present a 15-20 minute paper. Selected papers will be combined into panels at the discretion of the Program Committee. Individual paper proposals must include: the title of the paper; the name, title, affiliation, and email address of the author; and an abstract of the paper (<500 words).

ROUNDTABLES: Roundtables allow a group of participants to convene with the goal of generating discussion around a shared concern. In contrast to panels, roundtables typically involve shorter position or dialogue statements (5-10 minutes) in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer. The majority of roundtable sessions should be devoted to discussion. Roundtables are limited to no more than five participants, including the organizer. We encourage roundtables involving participants from different institutions, centers, and organizations. Proposals for roundtables must include: the title of the roundtable; the name, title, affiliation, and contact information of the roundtable organizer; the names, titles, affiliations, and email addresses of the proposed roundtable participants; and a description of the position statements, questions, or debates that will be under discussion (<500 words).

PRAXIS SESSIONS: Praxis sessions allow a facilitator or facilitating team to set an agenda, pose opening questions, and/or organize hands-on participant activities, collaborations, or skill-shares. Successful praxis sessions will be organized around a specific objective, productively engage a cultural studies audience, and orient itself towards participants with minimal knowledge of the subject matter. Sessions organized around the development of ongoing creative, artistic, and activist projects are highly encouraged. The facilitator or team is responsible for framing the session, gathering responses and results from participants, helping everyone digest them, and (where applicable) suggesting possible fora for extending the discussion. Proposals for praxis sessions must include: the title of the session; the name, title, affiliation, and contact information the facilitators; a brief statement explaining the session’s connection to the conference theme and describing the activities to be undertaken (<500 words) and a short description of the session (<150 words) to appear in the conference program. Please direct any questions about praxis sessions to Michelle Fehsenfeld at

SEMINARS: Seminars are small-group (maximum 15 individuals) discussion sessions for which participants prepare in advance of the conference. In previous years, preparation has involved shared readings, pre-circulated ”position papers” by seminar leaders and/or participants, and other forms of pre-conference collaboration. We particularly invite proposals for seminars designed to advance emerging lines of inquiry and research/teaching initiatives within cultural studies broadly construed. We also invite seminars designed to generate future collaborations among conference attendees, particularly through the formation of working groups. A limited number of seminars will be selected. Once the seminars are chosen, a call for participants in those seminars will be announced on the CSA webpage and listserv. Those who wish to participate in a particular seminar must apply to the seminar leader(s) directly by March 1, 2021. Individuals interested in participating in (rather than leading) a seminar should consult the list of seminars and the instructions for signing up for them, to be available on the conference website by April 12, 2021. Seminar leader(s) will be responsible for providing the program committee with a confirmed list of participants (names, affiliations, and email addresses required) for inclusion in the conference program no later than May 7, 20219. Seminars will be marked in the conference programs as either closed to non-participants or open to all conference attendees. Proposals for seminars should include: the title of the seminar; the name, title, affiliation, and contact information of the seminar leader(s); and a description of the issues and questions that will be raised in discussion and an overview of the work to be completed by participants in advance of the seminar (<500 words). Please direct questions about seminars Please note that for them to run at the conference, seminars accepted for inclusion by the program committee must garner a minimum of 8 participants, including the seminar leader(s).

MEET THE AUTHOR: Meet the Author Sessions are designed to bring authors of recent books deemed to be important contributions to the field of cultural studies together with discussants selected to provide different viewpoints. Books published one to three years before the conference (for example, for the 2018 conference, only books published between 2015-2018 could be nominated) are eligible for nomination. Only CSA members may submit nominations. Self-nominations are not accepted.

WORKING GROUP SESSIONS: CSA has a number of ongoing working groups. Working Group submissions can either be an individual paper or pre-constituted panel and must be made through CSA’s online EasyChair submission portal. Choose either the Working Group Panel or Working Group Paper tracks, complete the submission information, and choose the appropriate working group from the drop-down menu at the bottom of the page. Working Groups page of the CSA website for the most updated calls:

The Make(r) Space is a space for the collaborative and praxis driven portions of Cultural Studies – making space for art, making space for political activism, making space for new modes of knowledge exchange. It is our goal that this space will be created for those that have been historically and systemically left out of these conversations: artists, activists, poets, and other cultural critics and makers. We want to create a space that helps the CSA fulfill some of the implicit praxis portion of its goals to “create and promote an effective community of cultural studies practitioners and scholars.” Building on the poets, dancers, painters, and activists already interested in the space, we welcome proposals for exhibits, performances, workshops, skill shares, story telling, and other ways of meaning-making and art-making in the world that consider the theme of “Interventions.” We especially encourage Make(r) Space submissions from individuals working beyond the boundaries of the university: artists, activists, independent scholars, professionals, community organizers, contingent faculty, and community college educators. Please email Jennifer Scuro & Michelle Fehsenfeld all Make(r)Space submissions by March 12, 2021 to:

LATERAL WORKSHOP: Lateral, the journal of the Cultural Studies Association invites submissions of emerging work for constructive feedback with the Lateral editors and cultural studies scholars at the Cultural Studies Association 2021 Conference. If you are interested in being considered for the workshop merely check “yes” when prompted to do so in Easychair and, if accepted to the conference, you will also automatically be considered for the workshop. We especially invite participation from junior scholars, graduate students, and those working beyond the bounds of the university, as well as those who intend to eventually submit their work to Lateral (workshop papers that are later submitted to the journal will undergo regular editorial and peer review). Those interested in participating will be notified of their acceptance into the workshop by mid-January, and complete drafts of articles (approximately 4,000–9,000 words in length) will be due mid-May and circulated to workshop participants at least two weeks before the conference. Strong submissions will situate their considerations of cultural practices, critical theories, and/or pedagogies within established and emerging conversations on racism, capitalism, sexuality, gender, ability, and colonialism. Prospective workshop participants, including those presenting work at the 2021 CSA Conference, should submit abstracts (no more than 500 words) or draft articles (approximately 4,000–9,000 words in length) through the submission system by the deadline for submissions. The journal can be accessed at

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