Call for papers

Workshop in in the Transforming Identities project: Be(com)ing human? Thinking across theories and politics of difference and colonial legacies.

Call for contributions:

For the third and final meeting in the Transforming Identities workshop series, we are inviting papers that engage fundamental debates and knowledges on what it means to be human. Key questions that frame this workshop’s overall theme are: Whose humanity is recognized and by what standards? How to trace humanity’s inherent structural inequalities and hierarchies? How can we, following bell hooks, foreground compassionate accountability while simultaneously recognize others’ humanity and the possibility for transformation? By extension, what kinds of in-human and non-human manifestations in theory and politics may inspire, challenge, threaten and possibly transform visions and practices of ‘the human’, becoming and being human and its perceived ‘others’ in this historical moment?

The current historical moment is experiencing far-right ideologies and authoritarian conservatisms on steady rise, neoliberal capitalisms and military-industrial alliances proliferate, modes of precarization continue to unfold, side by side and entwined with a destruction of “non-human life and beings and the environment” (Bacchetta 2017: 155; Puar 2019; Spade 2015). The obvious targets of its dehumanizing logics, across temporal and geographical locations, are those who cross geographical, political and identitarian borders; interspecies practices that challenge neoliberal settler capitalism; environmental ecosystems that threaten but certainly also are threatened by human-centrist values for life standards and development.

Against this background, feminist, queer, trans* and decolonial activists (and) scholars from diverse disciplines and backgrounds are calling for a recognition of the multiplicities of power relations and forms of violence that characterize our histories and presents, and the importance of collaborating in solidarity to establish meaningful ways to attain justice and engender possibilities for radical change.

The first and second workshops (Stavanger 2018, Gothenburg 2019) examined the dilemmas and possibilities of identity politics as a strategy to build networks of support and learning within contexts of racism, sexism, misogyny, homo- and transphobia. They explored how notions of identity and debates around identity politics reproduce or problematize various forms of exceptionalisms situated within and moving between different local, national and regional sites. This third and final workshop encourages explorations of what it means to be(come) human within and against contemporary regimes of identitarian normativity; historical amnesia; biopolitical security; and national exclusion (e.g. Agamben 2005; Mbembe 2011; Haritaworn et al 2014; Shakhsari 2014; Kuokkanen 2015; Gopal 2016; Browne et al 2017; Martinsson and Mulinari 2018).

Although the Transforming Identities project carries a particular reference to northern and Nordic Europe, we recognize the historical entangling of geopolitical relations and welcome work that engages global and transnational perspectives. By threading other paths than those where gendered and sexual justice links to the oft-repeated progress narrative of European modernity and (neo)coloniality, central to the project’s ambition is to rethink the conceptual and political terrains of identity and difference, and to carefully map and analyze conditions for resistance, solidarity, modes of belonging, and imagining life otherwise.

With this in mind, three priority themes frame the Be(com)ing Human workshop:

  1. Humanity, belonging and movements
  2. Identity, solidarity and difference
  3. Colonial legacies in contemporary theorizing and politics


Submissions and deadlines:

This workshop will focus on discussing participants’ paper drafts together, and will not have individual paper presentations. Each paper will have two designated discussants. We will allocate considerable time for collective discussion as well.

We will grant priority to submissions that address and contribute to the Transforming Identities’ overall project, and which express interest to contribute to the project anthology currently under preparation (please indicate your interest in contributing to the anthology in your submission).

We especially encourage co-authorship, collaborative and exploratory writing that critically engage the epistemological limits and possibilities of academic genres.

Please send your abstracts of no more than 300 words as well as a short bio (max 100 words) by 20 December 2019 to:

You will hear back from us by 15 January 2020.

Deadline for submitting full paper: 15 April 2020.

Please address any questions you may have to


Funding opportunities

Due to generous funding from the Joint Committee for Nordic Research Councils in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NOS-HS), we are able to cover economy standard travel and standard single room accommodation and meals for all selected participants.


Confirmed keynote speakers

Dr Priyamvada Gopal, Reader in Anglophone and related literature, University of Cambridge, UK ( )

Decolonized: The life and times of an idea

Dr Julian Honkasalo, Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher, Department of Culture, University of Helsinki, Finland  ( )

Title to be announced



For inquiries, please contact project leader Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen at


About the Transforming Identities Research Network