CFP: Critically Sick: New Phenomenologies of Illness, Madness, and Disability (deadline: Oct. 15, 2019)


Special Issue of Puncta: Journal of Critical Phenomenology

Guest editors: Emily R. Douglas (McGill University) and Corinne Lajoie (Penn State University)

Puncta is seeking new work for a special issue on critical phenomenologies of sickness, madness, and disability. A cursory search for scholarly work explicitly addressing the intersections of phenomenology and mad and disability scholarship around notions of illness, madness, and disability in their connection to social hierarchies and experiences of race, gender, class, and capacity yields very few results.

While scholars outside of phenomenology have shown interest in this type of cross-pollination, less has been done on the part of phenomenologists to integrate these fields and gain purchase on key political and ethical debates emerging in mad and disability scholarship and activism. This special issue will examine the politicized dimensions of sick bodily subjectivity (and intersubjectivity) and propose particular explorations of how these experiences are lived in and/or generated out of specific economies of care and vulnerability, and environments of political violence and oppression.

Borrowing on a formulation by Merri Lisa Johnson and Robert McRuer, and expanding its scope to include notions of illness and madness, we are interested in “the sensory experience of [disability, illness and madness], what it feels and looks like [to be a ‘sick’ subject], as well as [in] the body politics of [these experiences], how [they operate] as a cultural location of stigma and defiance, marginalization and collective organizing.” (Johnson and McRuer 2011, 134)

With this issue, we ask two questions. First, how can critical phenomenology engage with the wealth of discussions around illness, madness, and disability in mad and disability studies (e.g. critiques of neoliberal disability epistemologies, critiques of disability exceptionalism, crip epistemologies, discussions of invisible and undocumented illnesses and disabilities, psychiatric-survivor activism, cultural and political responses to historical and political trauma, the racialization of disability and the violence of racialization)? Second, what might a critical phenomenological approach contribute to these discussions?

We invite contributors to reflect on phenomenological methods that attend to the various medical, economic, legal, and political institutions, contexts, and interactions that bear on pathologies of sickness, and seek particular examinations of gendered, classed, and/or racialized modes of ‘being sick’, and of pathologies that are either ascribed to certain political groups, or overwhelmingly appear in specific social and geopolitical locations. We welcome papers on any topic pertaining to the intersections of critical phenomenology, disability studies, mad studies and queer crip analyses of disability, and encourage interdisciplinary engagement with feminist, critical race, decolonial and fat studies perspectives.

Possible topics might include:

  • Critical race, feminist, queer or crip views on experiences of pathologization
  • Phenomenological perspectives on health, wellness, and normalcy
  • Phenomenological perspectives on healing, recovery and dominant therapeutic models
  • The political potentials of illness/disability/madness and protest
  • The methodological role/importance of first-person narratives
  • Embodied/somatic/sensory features of illness, madness, and disability
  • The capacitations and decapacitations that arise with illness, madness, and disability
  • The politics of trauma, pain, violence, and oppression
  • Lived experiences of institutionalization and incarceration
  • Methodological challenges and possibilities in writing phenomenologically about illness, madness, and disability (e.g. ableist/saneist discourses and methods within phenomenology)
  • Global disability economies and the production of debility

Please submit your anonymized paper proposal (500-800 words) by October 15th, 2019 to sick.puncta@gmail.com in Word or PDF format. Full papers will need to be submitted by March 15th, 2020 for a full anonymous peer-review process. Please note that acceptance of the initial abstract does not guarantee acceptance of the full paper, which is dependent on external review. However, we will work closely with authors to help make publication possible.  

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