Hemi Graduate Student Initiative


Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics
Hemi Graduate Student Initiative (Hemi GSI) Fifth Convergence

Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies
October 5-8, 2017 | York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Call for Work Group and/or Workshop Conveners

Deadline: February 1, 2017

Convergence speaks to the intersection of multiple perspectives, ideas, and bodies—to a confluence, a meeting point, an encounter. Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies is an invitation to respond critically, aesthetically, and kinetically to the idea of “meeting grounds”—inflected, as it is, with histories of settlement, displacement, and resettlement throughout the Americas. Whereas hospitality invokes a series of guest-host/mover-stayer relations centered on (solicited) encounters, radical hospitalities deal with ethics of gathering and imply a new way of being together that can be both utopic and politically generative. Intimate geographiesilluminate those micropolitical domains—bodies, spaces, and relations—which inform and are informed by social and cultural frameworks. Unsettling implies a movement, a shift from being idle towards becoming undone, being challenged, being in discomfort, shifting perspectives, unlearning or learning anew. Unsettling the Americas, then, is an invitation to unsettle as well as to be unsettled: to evaluate our own locations in relation to each other and within our respective colonial histories.

In Canada, these histories became particularly relevant in November 2015, when the government announced the sponsorship of over 25,000 Syrian refugees to the country. International press agencies depicted Canada’s hospitality as a contrast to the rhetorics of fear and paranoia that have met and excluded refugees and immigrants elsewhere. However, recent suicide crises in First Nations communities across Canada raise important questions regarding Canadian settler colonialism and international relationalities. What intimate gestures and imaginative spaces have the capacity to generate new political possibilities or alternative networks of care, or transcend a politics as-is? How can we generate spaces that acknowledge shared and conflicted histories while making room to restructure institutional, inter/intracultural, and colonial relations? How might we oppose growing isolationist/nationalist movements? How might migrant mobilities and discourses of multiculturalism emerge from and exacerbate the structures of settler colonialism? How can we unsettle (artistic, activist, academic) institutionalisms? Unsettling the Americas: Radical Hospitalities and Intimate Geographies invites reflection on these domains of overlap and difference: how do we enact and contest the intimate frontiers of coloniality, and what it means to host and to be hosted, in colonized spaces? What does it mean to gather on colonized land? Convergence 2017 falls on the weekend of Canadian Thanksgiving, Columbus Day, and/or Indigenous Peoples’ Day, and marks an ideal time to discuss and contest the politics of gathering.

The Convergence 2017 organizers invite participants interested in a leadership role to apply to co-convene work groups or praxis workshops focused on specific topics within the broader conference theme. Work groups will generate discussion and theorization through sharing academic research. Praxis workshops allow discussion and development of ideas through practical and artistic work. Groups that wish to combine both are also encouraged—just make it clear in the application what you wish to do and why. All groups are expected to collaborate (online) in advance of the Convergence and to share their results at the end of it.

Possible Work Group and Workshop topics:

  • Feminism and intimate geographies
  • Unsettling gender: two spirit performance, queer spaces and trans* politics
  • Micro-utopias: intimate gestures, everyday activism and their impacts on grassroots movements
  • Domestic and dwelling spaces and their im/material histories
  • Alternative citizenships: enactments of belonging and unbelonging
  • Hospitalities that counter transnational panic in relation to migrant and refugee mobilities
  • Questions of relationality and considerations of the more-than-human
  • Unsettling (our)selves: practices of unlearning and critical unknowing
  • Performance and disability: unsettling bodies, boundaries, and accessibilities
  • Experimental collectivities, networks, collaborations, and (dis)embodied digital experiences
  • Decolonial arts, pedagogies, and activisms
  • Radical and intimate acts that counter the homogenization and neoliberalism of globalization (and the hospitality/tourism industry)
  • The politics of memory: testimony and address/redress in relation to transgenerational and trans-border traumas; questions of reparations and reconciliation
  • The unsettling possibilities of holidays and gatherings, as well as food and food systems
  • Performance and the histories of relational aesthetics

These are just a few suggestions out of many possible work group topics. Applicants for convener positions may choose to use these or move beyond them in their work group proposals. Conveners can apply either as a group (interested in the same topic) or individually. Selected co-conveners will collaborate with the Convergence organizers to develop the theme, format, tone, and goals of their work groups. In addition to collaborating with mentor professors and work group participants in the months before October 2017, co-conveners will also develop schedules and off-site activities in Toronto with the support of the organizers.

To apply, please:

1. Provide a statement of interest (250 words) outlining your research interests as well as approach to the topics/themes on which you would like to work.

2. Provide your CV and a brief paragraph (250 words) outlining your leadership experience within artistic/academic/activist settings.

3. If you are a group proposing a work group or workshop, please also indicate your approach to and your expectations of the work group (300-500 words). Please provide details of the work group or workshop structure (i.e. how participants might connect before and during the Convergence; possible spaces in Toronto to visit; and how your Convergence time will be used).

4. Lastly, create one PDF document with all the materials and email it to: hemigsi@gmail.com with the subject “Co-Convener Application.” Indicate your institutional affiliation, what degree you are pursuing, and what your fluency is in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Please note that fluency in multiple languages is NOT required to be a co-convener.