Exploring Epistemic Violence

call for papers/contributions


one-day workshop, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday February 22nd 2016, London

at the School of Politics and International Relations Queen Mary University of London

Mile End Campus, Room TBA

in cooperation with the Centre for Peace Research and Peace Education, Alps-Adriatic University of Klagenfurt (Austria) and the Colonial/Postcolonial/Decolonial Working Group at BISA 


While the notion of epistemic violence is well-known in post- and decolonial studies, it is still relatively absent in IR, in Peace and Conflict Studies, in Political Philosophy and in other fields of knowledge that deal with issues of political violence. This workshop will discuss the supposedly simply question of what epistemic violence actually is. How can we frame it as a concept, and how can we approach phenomena that we would describe with that notion? How can we discern a post- and decolonial concept of epistemic violence from or link it with other wide understandings of violence, such as structural, symbolic, discursive, visual violence etc. that stem from a Eurocentrist tradition of thought? From a post- and decolonial point of view, should we give up common and narrow concepts of violence altogether or can we find plausible ways to link them with a thicker concept of epistemic violence? In which ways would it change our analyses of direct and physical political violence, if we developed a theory of epistemic violence?  

Papers may include empirical examples of epistemic violence, but the focus should be on theoretical aspects, by bringing together perspectives from a range of disciplinary backgrounds of scholars who are interested in better understanding the entanglements between direct and physical political violence on the one hand and epistemic violence on the other.


The workshop will cultivate an explorative, egalitarian and creative atmosphere. Participants will read 4-8 papers in preparation of the workshop, prepare a presentation and openly interact with each other during the day. Papers are not presented by the authors themselves, but by another participant and vice versa. After presentation, the whole group will discuss the paper. The author steps in for comments and clarifications in the last part of the session. This ‘counter reading principle’ has proven to be very productive and helps to create a fair and mutually respectful atmosphere of debate. A final plenary discussion will sum up central issues, eventually sketch further prospects of cooperation and exchange, and allow to evaluate the process.

For those who can stay in the evening, we will arrange a screening of a film that creatively illustrates the entanglements between political violence and epistemic violence while investigating World War I from a postcolonial perspective.  


There is a small budget in order to co-finance travel expenses, if needed. We want to primarily support colleagues without institutional financing or PhD students. Please indicate in your application whether you would like to apply for a full or partial reimbursement. Drinks and snacks will be provided. 


If you would like to participate in this one-day workshop, please send an abstract of your potential contribution (max. 1 page), your contact details and a few lines about who and where you are (max. 1 page) to Claudia Brunnerclaudia.brunner@aau.at and Robbie Shilliam r.shilliam@qmul.ac.uk by December 15th 2015. We will get back to you in the beginning of January 2016 to confirm the participation of a maximum of 8-10 presenters/discussants. If you wish to attend the workshop without a paper and presentation, please do also mention the context of your work, affiliation and motivation. Depending on the number of applications, we can possibly also include non-presenting participants.


After confirmation, participants will have about four weeks to write their papers (of about 10 pages/3.000 words) and send them in again in the beginning of February. The organizers will match teams of ideally two persons, who will present their colleague’s work (and vice versa). All participants should read all papers in order to guarantee a productive discussion.

Categories: Conferences


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