On the Edge: Borders, Boundaries, and Thresholds in an Age of Unease

May 12-13, 2017
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Deadline extended: January 31, 2017.
Submit your proposal.

Keynote speakers:
Dr. Sonnet L’Abbé (Vancouver Island University)
Dr. Mo Pareles (UBC)

We are faced with a number of thresholds and borders — political, ecological, national, sexual, racial — that challenge our conceptual and disciplinary limits. At the same time, the urge to maintain and reinforce boundaries, fueled by instability and rising inequality, stubbornly persists. While work in the academy and beyond has taken these conditions to task, how might we — in these precarious times — continue interrogating the formation, persistence, regulation, and dissolution of boundaries?  

This leads to further questions: What are boundaries, how are they drawn, and can they be useful? What are the ethical, historical, and methodological underpinnings of boundaries, and how should they be articulated, critiqued, or dismantled? What are we seeking to protect when we draw them? What precedents exist for this urge to bound, and what can previous historical periods tell us about the genealogies of our current bounded conditions? How can we speak past the boundaries in which we find ourselves enmeshed, and, perhaps more importantly, how can we listen across them and make our efforts matter? Can we envision reasons to be optimistic in the pessimism of the current moment?

We welcome papers that engage with boundaries, borders, and thresholds through any number of theoretical, textual, cultural, historical, political, ethical, or aesthetic methods. We invite proposals from all periods, from interdisciplinary researchers and from scholarship doing work outside the humanities, outside academia, and outside traditional scholarly work in general, such as from artists, writers, activists, community leaders, volunteers, entrepreneurs, and colleagues in all manner of arts and sciences. Papers may address topics including, but not limited to, the following (problematically bounded) list:

  • Tipping points; de facto and implicit borders; explicit borders; internal and external boundaries; boundary objects; contact zones
  • Periodization; canon formation; fiction and nonfiction; realism and fantasy; genre-bending, remixes, and collages; metaphors of borders, such as “changing landscapes”; para-, hyper-, and non-texts; margins and marginalia; disciplinary borders
  • Language change and policing; political correctness; the un/sayable; citations politics; rhetorical and pragmatic borders; consent
  • Border and order; resurgent nationalism; demagoguery and fascism; lingering segregation
  • Border control; refugee crises; contested land; police action; Indigenous sovereignty; historical production of borders; containment, camps, and being surrounded by borders; erasure and persistent crossing of borders; border imperialism; journalism and democracy
  • Race definitions, identities, and discourses; recent racism in Canada and the USA; genders and sexualities; ethnicities; class and caste; dis/abilities
  • Climate change; organic vs. synthetic; endangered and extinct species
  • Persistence of nature-culture boundaries; mind-body debates; affective thresholds, borders as (un)natural kinds; conceptions of time and space; rural vs. urban; domestication, ferality, and wildness
  • Experience vs. naïveté; part-time vs. full-time; wages and salaries; precarious labour
  • Religious vs. secular; religious affiliations and denominations

We welcome both traditional and non-traditional presentations of no longer than 20 minutes each. In addition to traditional academic panels, the committee will be organizing creative presentations and events. We enthusiastically encourage creative submissions, including literary work, visual art, performance art, and multimedia presentations that address the conference theme in some fashion.

All prospective presenters will be asked to provide a 300-word (maximum) abstract (or artist’s statement for creative submissions if preferred) and a 50-word (maximum) bio. Panel proposals are welcome: We ask that prospective panelists submit proposals individually and indicate in the appropriate place on the form that the submission is for a panel; the form will then ask for the panel title and the names of co-
presenters. For creative submissions, please also submit a three-page sample of your work to endnotesconference@gmail.com, and indicate the estimated duration of your presentation.

We look forward to reading your submissions. Please contact us at endnotesconference@gmail.com if you have any questions.