Call for Papers

Theme: Priors and Priorities
Subtitle: Conceiving Time and Other Bodies
Type: Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
Institution: Mahindra Center for the Humanities, Harvard University
Location: Cambridge, MA (USA)
Date: 20.–21.4.2018
Deadline: 2.3.2018


The Harvard University Mahindra Center for the Humanities and
Science, Religion, and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School
announces the “Priors and Priorities: Conceiving Time and Other
Bodies” graduate conference. This interdisciplinary two-day
conference takes as its central problematic the temporal
displacements that mark the colonial and postcolonial condition.

Modernity for Europe in the 18th century inhabited a fundamental
paradox, what Elizabeth Povinelli identifies as the “governance of
the prior,” where social, political, and economic life relied on an
imperial project invested in differential civilizational time. Our
conference, building on this insight, explores the tense of the
colonized Other, who is made to occupy a place of prior-ness without
priority. Colonialism imagines colonized peoples as prior to the
arrival of the modern, yet strips them of priority. It consistently
marks colonized peoples as savage, primitive, traditional,
categorically prior to the time of modern society – in the process,
producing a queer subject who haunts the colonial present. Bodies in
this tense are both queered and racialized—relegated to a sexually
non-normative past, racially incommensurable present, and
discursively impossible future.

“Priors and Priorities” is grounded in an intellectual commitment to
consider colonized, racialized, and queered bodies and histories as
intersecting and mutually constituted. Analyzing the temporalities of
Black, Brown and Queer bodies and histories requires an
interdisciplinary approach that bridges postcolonial theory, critical
race theory, and queer theory in order to understand the
reverberations of being prior without priority. 


We seek papers that investigate the tense of the Other by graduate
students from diverse disciplines, including the too often fragmented
and isolated fields of science and technology studies (STS), history
of science and medicine, religious studies and history of religion,
postcolonial studies, queer studies, women and gender studies,
Indigenous studies, anthropology, history, and global geographic area
studies. We especially invite contributions that engage with the
following five themes and questions: 

- Postcolonial (Trans)Modernity:
How are transgender bodies cast in time in (post)colonial contexts?
Are trans bodies always already modern? Postmodern? Are they
nontraditional? Have they been taken up as part of a more “authentic”

- Indigenous Temporality:
The governance of the prior and the multitude of colonial temporal
contortions required to uphold it runs alongside, intersects, and
exchanges with autonomous and consequential Native temporal schema.
How do the epistemic and ontological resonances of Indigenous
temporalities tense bodies that are out of place in colonial time? 

- Old and New Materialities:
The recent material turn in critical studies has overlooked how
marginalized humans have already gone through processes of
objectification and thingification, rendering them the “old
materiality.” When are objects made and when are they deemed
consequential agents? When do we locate the objects of the old

- Queer Inhumanism and Futurism:
Where does queer time fall in the constellation of colonial,
postcolonial, and Indigenous temporalities? If a sense of browness
involves a constant striving for an impossible horizon, what relation
could priors without priority have to futurity? 

- Temporalities on the Move:
How can we theorize postcolonial temporalities within the context of
increased migration between the metropole and the postcolony? What is
the interplay between a postcolonial condition that can be
historicized and theorized as moving through temporal phases and a
global turn that emphasizes “flows” and “network” thinking?

Submissions Due: March 02, 2018. 

Submit your paper proposal here:

Please contact conference coordinator Eli Nelson at:


InterPhil List Administration:

InterPhil List Archive:



Reply via email to