CFP: Critical Vulnerabilities: Political, Epistemological, and Ontological Issues, Université de Montréal, Jan. 29-31, 2020 (deadline: Oct. 1, 2019)

How are we to understand vulnerabilities from a feminist standpoint? To this apparently simple question, the Symposium of feminist philosophy calls for complex and critical answers. The concept of vulnerability, quite popular amongst scholars from various disciplines, arises from a daily, concrete reality which is central to numerous feminist work on the “ordinary” dimension of our human condition. In order to analyse vulnerabilities from a feminist perspective, one needs to avoid the pitfall of depolitization and neutrality. Vulnerabilities are rooted in embodied reality. It is thus impossible to extract them from the social and political implications.

In moral philosophy, vulnerability is often understood as an alternative approach to issues surrounding autonomy and relatedness. In epistemology, the concept of vulnerability leads us to the recognize the situated and embodied position of scholars. Care ethics brought forward the idea that human condition might be fundamentally characterized by vulnerability. Making vulnerability a daily and ordinary dimension of our embodied reality brings on an important focus on our social and institutional practices in care work context. For instance, it reveals how the recognition of invisible work and the fairer sharing of its responsibility are issues of social justice.

Care work expands beyond human beings. As Evelyn Nakano Glenn explains, it involves three distinct but related types of activities. Although care consists first and foremost in the physical and affective care to a person, care work also includes maintaining the immediate physical environment in which people live, as well as promoting social relations between them. Caring about the fragility of ecosystems means thinking about the impact of ecological crisis on human communities as well as animal communities. Furthermore, an analysis of vulnerability in the context of environmental justice renders visible the inegalitarian distribution of security: the degree of vulnerability of some populations, especially racialized and marginalized communities, is a consequence of economical and political structures. Environmental justice thus calls for a radical acknowledgment of the differentiation of vulnerability.

With an interdisciplinary mindset, the second edition of the Symposium of feminist philosophy will focus on political, epistemological and ontological aspect of vulnerabilities. The Symposium of feminist philosophy values and encourages diversity within philosophical approaches and thus wishes to promote scientific contributions from various research fields in philosophy: phenomenology, ethical and moral philosophy, philosophy of language, aesthetics, philosophy of science, epistemology, history of philosophy, ancient philosophy, etc. Communications pertaining directly or indirectly the topic of vulnerabilities, including but not limited to the following questions, will be accepted:

  • Vulnerable bodies ;
  • Vulnerabilities in medical and applied ethics ;
  • Vulnerabilities in public places ;
  • Gender, physical abilities and racialization ;
  • Vulnerabilities in Indigenous feminist thought ;
  • Decolonial theories and vulnerabilities ;
  • Self-care, community care and global care work ;
  • Intersections between social justice and environmental justice ;
  • Differentiation of vulnerabilities in face of environmental crisis ;
  • Antispecism and animal vulnerabilities ;
  • Epistemic injustice and obstacles to making one’s voice heard ;
  • Thinking work and justice in light of care ;
  • The intrication of specific vulnerabilities benefiting to patriarchal, capitalist, heterocentered and white supremacist systems.

Communications are due by October 1st, 2019 at the following email:

In your email, include your complete name, institutional affiliation, and your preferred email contact. In a separate document, your abstract must be anonymized and no more than 300 words. The Symposium’s main language will be French, but we accept English submissions. 

Contact information : 

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