Containment and Intimacy: Interdisciplinary Symposium April 16, 17 & 18, 2020

Departments of East Asian Studies &
Art History & Communication Studies
McGill University, Montreal/Tiotia:ke

Abstracts due: January 24, 2020
(deadline extended)

(Event Cancelled)

Colonialism operates through cultural and ideological techniques of categorization, sorting, and containment. This positions some as liberal sovereign subjects and others as objects of knowledge whose modes of existence can be grasped in their entirety from the outside. Colonial forms of knowledge and governance rely on processes of assigning values and labels that enable the organization of the world into discrete and knowable entities. Although these knowledge relations act as forms of containment, they are also experienced in intimate and embodied ways. Power attempts to contain intimacy to the bounded liberal subject, the self-entrepreneur, the nuclear family, the domestic sphere, and national belonging. However, this containment is never perfect, as intimacies leak out, extend beyond, and are always already forged within the conditions of global, imperial, capitalist orders.

While intimacy’s most common referents are relations of proximity—familiar, bodily, personal, or perhaps private—feminist, queer and anti-colonial scholars have disrupted such understandings, pointing to intimacy as a key domain of the microphysics of power in modern life (Lowe 2014, Oswin 2010, Wilson 2016). These critical modes of engagement are particularly relevant in the contemporary moment, in which fascist movements, crises of sovereignty, and the climate catastrophe are on the rise. These not only suggest the need for deep transformations of our ways of being in the world, but also demand attention to the disintegration of colonial modes of containment. These transitional times require us to think with and form new modes of containment and relations of intimacy. For those communities who have been (and continue to be) subjected to the destructive, dehumanizing and dispossessive effects of colonialism and capitalism, this moment is not “new” but rather the latest in a series of ongoing crises. This begs the questions: who defines this moment of crisis? Crisis for whom? What narratives, histories, images, and objects are imbricated in constructing this moment, and which are rendered invisible? How can we begin fracturing, deconstructing, and remaking the relations and categories through which we make sense of the world?

Graduate students in East Asian Studies, Art History, and Communications Studies at McGill University invite you to submit abstracts (200-300 words) and creative projects to with a short bio (100 words max) by January 13, 2020. Presentations should be 15-20 minutes in length. Topics can include, but are not limited to:

Some questions this symposium asks are:
Dean of Arts Development Fund