NICA Winter School 2012: Doubt
January 12-13, 2012
The NICA Winter School on Doubt takes place on 12-13 January 2012 at Leiden University.
Confirmed guest speakers are Anton Zijderveld, the co-author of In Praise of Doubt, and Richard Kerridge, the editor of Writing the Environment. The School also features presentations by MA and PhD students and two workshops, on “Interdisciplinarity & Doubt” and on “A Poco-Eco View of Doubt.”
The Winter School provides lunches and drinks on both days, a dinner on the 12th, and funding for an overnight stay if you live far away. 5 ECTS credits are available for participants on the basis of active participation in the Winter School and a paper to be submitted afterwards. Enrollment is free of charge.
It is possible to participate in the Winter School without giving a presentation. Research Master and PhD students who would like to enroll, please send an email with your details to firstname.lastname@example.org before 5 January 2012. The maximum number of participants is 25 and admittance is on a “first come, first served” basis.
We look forward to hearing from you!
The Winter School organizers: Isabel Hoving (Leiden University), Liesbeth Minnaard (Leiden University) and Esther Peeren (University of Amsterdam)
“To be truly theoretical is to doubt.”
— Timothy Morton
We live in a world at risk, an unstable world, full of political, economical, and environmental uncertainties and insecurities. Having learnt the lessons of poststructuralism well, we approach that world with theories that emphasize unpredictability, opacity, and fragmentation. Simultaneously, however, globalization urges us to take the totality of the world that we inhabit into account and to acknowledge and address its complexity. Ignoring the ban on grand narratives, Hardt and Negri boldly speak of Empire; Glissant poetically refers to the world-totality; and ecocritics such as Heise insist on the need to develop nothing less than a planetary consciousness.
How now do we negotiate these two, equally ethically and politically laudable, yet divergent, options? While many scholars opt for a reconciliation of the two (Glissant, for instance, argued that the world-totality is non-generalizable), we propose to linger in a position of suspension, of doubt, and to explore its potential. Doubt is a more specific condition than uncertainty. It is not satisfied with the celebration of uncertainty and chaos, but neither is it interested in the embrace of an (imaginary? illusionary?) totality. Rather, it identifies specific options between which it hesitates. Doubt is a state in which action is needed, but postponed; doubt is opened to a future, yet forestalls it. How can doubt be made productive?
We welcome contributions on the epistemology of doubt as well as on the imagination of doubt. What are the theoretical and methodological approaches we use to explore the middle ground between a hesitative inarticulacy and firm statements? To what extent is doubt a productive alternative position from which to navigate and negotiate between fundamentalism and moral relativism (Berger and Zijderveld 2009)? What is the role of uncertainty in our scholarly work, and how do we resolve it, or refuse to resolve it, making it work for us? If we want to move beyond the celebration of plurality and uncertainty, when and how does doubt (as a more specific intellectual position of in-betweenness) enter our work?
We also welcome contributions on literary and artistic genres that are organized around doubt and the suspension of disbelief. How can we reconcile the popularity of the fantastic as the genre of doubt and hesitation with the desire for the “real” that shapes today’s public debate? In what sense do literary or artistic imaginations of the global future testify to the centrality of doubt, uncertainty and insecurity in the world today – and to what effects?
Climate change, economic crisis, environmental destruction, the struggle for resources, rising food prices, the upsurge of the extreme right — while fully aware of possible paradoxes, tensions, and aporias in these issues, theoristst also reflect on their social responsibility. How does one reconcile theoretical sophistication with social responsibility, theory and activism? How (in)productive is doubt when struggling with (theoretical, social) dilemmas that demand to be resolved?
The body in-between
Transsexuality, transgender, transvestism: what is the role of doubt in the process of changing sex? How do different trans-people deal with the possibility of remaining inside the state of suspension or ambiguity? Heterophobia in homosexuals, homophobia, bisexuality: how does doubt relate to sexual identification?
What are the tensions and paradoxes that are crucial to contemporary imaginations of the future (as apocalypse, as utopia)? What are our own doubts concerning developments that shape the future? Do these doubts hamper, or energize our academic research?
While we are more and more dependent on each other as global citizens, we continue to doubt each other’s sincerity (as prioritizing our own economic interests over human rights or democracy, as anti-democratic religious fanatics or potential terrorists, etc.). How can cooperation across borders be realized, and what about solidarity on a global scale? Is global connectedness a facile, humanist utopia?
The psychology of doubt
Is doubt a productive refusal of essentialist and fundamentalist positions? Is doubt a privileged theoretical moment – the moment for analysis, theory, reflection? Is doubt the pathological condition of psychological impotence or is it related to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder? What is the nature of theoretical doubt, in specific scholarly cases?
Leiden Hotspot: A Poco-Eco View of Globalization
Though the Winter School intends to cover a range of possible debates and issues under the general denominator of “doubt,” we will also organize a special session on the affinities and differences between the theories of postcoloniality/globalization and the ecocritical approach. Thus, we explore the specificities of an old field of inquiry that is continuously renewing itself, as well as a booming new research field that aims to reconnect to the world’s totality in a new way.