Dear colleagues,


Please find below and attached the Call for Papers for Containment and Intimacy, an interdisciplinary symposium that will be facilitated by graduate students in the Departments of East Asian Studies, and Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University on April 16-18, 2020.


Abstracts may be submitted to

Deadline: January 13, 2020


Information and updates can be found at


Please circulate to graduate students in your departments and programs.


Thank you so much.


Best regards,


Containment and Intimacy Symposium Organizing Committee



Containment and Intimacy Interdisciplinary Symposium

Departments of East Asian Studies, & Art History & Communication Studies

McGill University, Montreal/Tiotia:ke


Abstracts due: January 13, 2020



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:


  • Borders, nationhood, and mapping
  • Critical Asian studies
  • Logistics and supply chains
  • Architecture and the built environment
  • Media archaeology
  • Materialisms and mediums
  • Archives and archival methods
  • Media environment and ecologies
  • Colonial and postcolonial structures
  • Geopolitics
  • Critical race studies
  • Urban spaces
  • Frames, lenses and optical devices
  • Literature, narrative and historical memory
  • Language and translation
  • Sound technologies and media
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Travel, tourism and (im)mobilities
  • Animation, animality and animism
  • Anime, comics, games and fan studies
  • Platforms and enclosure
  • Social media and online communities
  • Information, infrastructure and modes of classification
  • Museums, monuments and memorialization


Some questions this symposium asks are: 

  • How do media and art operate as forms through which this containment is reproduced and memorialized in territorially bounded histories?
  • How might material cultures offer interpretive possibilities for unsettling nationalist narratives and capitalist imperial world-making?
  • What kinds of narratives and forms of knowledge do we need to bring to the forefront in telling different histories and producing different knowledges than the ones that shape our world today?
  • Counter to this, are there forms of deliberate forgetting that we need to be attentive to in order to enable a more just transition? How can the new world be born out of the old?
  • How has visual culture been complicit in maintaining these practices of containment or, alternatively, challenging and dismantling them?
  • What are some artistic strategies that have been employed to work within or work without these constructs?
  • How do media or art practices unsettle conceptions of intimacy as the privileged sphere of liberal interiority or domesticity?
  • How is intimacy contained in objects, processes, and relations that traverse scales?
  • How do modes of intimacy exceed and overflow technologies of containment?
  • How do sites such as archives contain traces of intimacies they sought to expel or omit?
  • What forms of resistance and resilience do intimacy and containment afford in the face of capitalist and colonial oppression?