CFP ISSUE 6 – Feral Theory // DEADLINE 15 October 2015

  Feral Feminisms, a new independent, inter-media, peer reviewed, open access  online journal, invites submissions from artists, activists, and scholars for a special issue entitled, Feral Theory, guest edited by Chloë Taylor and Kelly Struthers Montford. This issue of Feral Feminisms seeks writings that explore the feral from feminist, critical animal, queer, environmental, critical disability, critical race, anti-colonial, intersectional, interlocking, and mongrelized perspectives. Submitted contributions may include full-length academic essays (about 5000 – 7000 words), shorter creative pieces, cultural commentaries, or personal narratives (about 500 – 2500 words), poetry, photo-essays, short films/video (uploaded to Vimeo), visual and sound art (jpeg Max 1MB), or a combination of these. Please direct inquiries and submissions to Guest Editors Chloë Taylor (chloe.taylor[at]ualberta[dot]ca) and Kelly Struthers Montford (kstruthe[at]ualberta[dot]ca).

One way in which women have been oppressed has been through their relegation to the domestic sphere and through their domestic labour, and so it makes sense to consider women domesticated rather than feral animals. Indeed, in classic works such as “The Traffic in Women: Notes on the ‘Political Economy’ of Sex” and “In and Out of Harm’s Way: Arrogance and Love,” radical feminist theorists Gayle Rubin and Marilyn Frye describe gendering as domestication. More recently, in “After Alice, After Cats,” Jessica Polish notes that, for Kant, women were originally and quite literally domesticated animals for men; for example, Polish argues that women may have been men’s first domesticated animals. Kant writes that woman was initially a mule, “loaded down with his [man’s] household belongings,” and later, with the development of polygamous marriage, became more like a dog in man’s harem—or, as Kant puts it, “kennel.” Polish argues that, for Kant, it was only with the domestication of non-human animals that monogamous marriage or “civilized,” intra-human relations become possible between the sexes. If, following Rubin, Frye, and Polish, to become women was to be domesticated, it would seem that undoing gender, to borrow Judith Butler’s phrase, would mean going feral. Monique Wittig long ago described lesbians as “escapees” from gender. Wittig’s renegade lesbian is no longer a woman; like the avian inmate who flees the farm, or the dog who joins the wolves, she has gone feral.

The feral has also been theorized within Critical Animal Studies. In Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights, Sue Donaldson and Will Kymlicka criticize animal ethicists for focusing exclusively on domesticated and wild animals, ignoring the billions of “liminal” animals who live within human communities without being of those communities or directly subjected to human control. For Donaldson and Kymlicka, liminal animals are in different political relations to humans than domesticated and wild animals, and a different set of moral obligations to these animals is entailed by these relations. Although Donaldson and Kymlicka’s theory is important because it draws the attention of critical animal theorists to a previously ignored category of animal, they arguably subsume ferality into existing neoliberal society in a way that evacuates the feral of its political potential. A more radical approach to thinking the feral within Critical Animal Studies would not domesticate the feral into existing human political categories, but would begin with these liminal animals in order to feralize political theory. In “Taming Ourselves or Going Feral: Toward a Nonpatriarchal Metaethic of Animal Liberation,” for instance, Brian Luke takes up the feminist association of patriarchy with domestication to argue that a nonpatriarchal approach to animal liberation would entail such a feralization of thought.

Queer theorist Jack Halberstam has recently argued that the term “queer” has been domesticated, or is being used interchangeably with ‘gay’ to describe homonormalizing political agendas. For Halberstam, we thus need a new term to do the work that “queer” once did, and he proposes “going wild.” Halberstam argues in Gaga Feminism that we are living in a time of chaos, where the meanings of once stable phenomena such as gender and marriage have become definitionally unstable—things are “going gaga” or “crazy.” Rather than resisting this moment of instability and trying to put definitions back in place, Halberstam argues that now should be a time of (queer) anarchy or “wildness.” Halberstam sees this argument for wildness as building on his earlier argument for embracing failure in The Queer Art of Failure, which takes as its exemplars animated revolting chickens, the anarchic bodies of children, and the failed femininity of butch lesbians. Contra Halberstam, however, “going feral” better describes the situation of moving to a less tamed or untamed state after (failed) domestication, whereas, just as there is no “outside of power” for Foucault, there is arguably no possibility of “going wild.” What we need, then, we suggest, is not so much a rewilding of queer theory as its feralization.

At the same time, this issue seeks to explore the racist, ableist, and class-bound implications of elaborating a theory of the feral. While feral is a provocative concept for thinking a rewilding of queer and feminist theories, it is also a term that has been wielded against marginalized bodies and populations. We thus solicit reflections on the manners in which disabled subjects are seen as feral or out of control, and the ways in which these bodies are domesticated, sequestered, expected to be “patients” and to remain at (or in a) home. We invite speculations on the ways that indigenous peoples and bodies are framed as feral or “savage,” and are expected to be domesticated within the reconciliatory ethos of settler colonialism. We are also interested in exploring the racist routes that ferality traverses—historically, politically, and theoretically.

In the spirit of auto-critique, this special issue also invites challenges to our appropriation of the feral as potentially reflecting white privilege. Does our very willingness to celebrate the feral and to propose ferality reflect racial privilege? Although women, including white women, have been viewed as less than fully human and have been associated with animals, the history of animalizing people of colour of both sexes has arguably been even more brutal. Might it be that we are willing to invite identifications with the feral and cultivations of a feral feminism—despite their strong connotations of animality—because we are not among those people who have been denigrated as beastly, savage, primitive, and uncivilized with the most oppressive effects?

Turning to environmental theory, feminist philosophers such as Claire Colebrook and Joanna Zylinska have begun to grapple with what feminist theory and ethics, respectively, should look like in the Anthropocene. Essayists such as George Monbiot encourage rewilding as a way to reconnect with nature and, in turn, our sense of wonder and enchantment with Earth. As we come to terms with the apparent inevitability of ecological catastrophe and mass human die-outs, is it helpful to theorize the feral as an antecedent to learning to live ferally?

While feminist theorists debate the relative advantages of intersectionalism versus interlocking oppressions as models for understanding how different forms of oppression and the subjectivities they produce coalesce and interact, this issue proposes promiscuous matings of theory as a mark of the feral. Far from domesticated pure-breds whose reproduction is constrained by pre-given agendas, ferals interact with each other as they choose and at the moment, producing mongrels. In developing a feral theory, we thus also call for a mongrelization of thought.

We welcome submissions that take up any of the above ideas or explore ferality and feral animals in other ways. Topics and questions may include, but are not limited to:

  • crip, queer, and anti-colonial appropriations of the feral;
  • critical animal studies reflections on feral animals;
  • critical race reflections on ferality, mongrel animals and mongrelized theory;
  • feminist, critical animal studies, queer, crip and critical race critiques of sex, gender, normalization and colonization as domestication;
  • reflections on the potential of queer theory going feral versus going wild;
  • Anthropocene feminist perspectives on the feral future of humans.

CFP ISSUE 5 – Untimely Bodies: Futurity, Resistance, and Non-Normative Embodiment // CLOSED. Thanks to all who submitted.

Recent literature in feminist, queer, fat, and critical disability theory has drawn attention to the hegemonic nature of dominant time orders and how they have made certain lives unlivable (Edelman 2004; Halberstam 2005; Love 2009; Freeman 2010; Muñoz 2009). Much of this scholarship has critically argued that the future and futurity have troubling normative force in the present. Alison Kafer (2014) for example, highlights disabled bodies as the “sign of the future of no future” (34). Although dominant time orders structure our social, economic, and political lives in ways that flatten the complexity and richness of lived experiences, these time orders can be resisted and reconstituted. Lee Edelman calls for a refusal of the future, a refusal “of the coercive belief in the paramount value of futurity” (6), while Kafer asks us to imagine “disability and disability futures otherwise” (34). Temporality, then, is a site for considering the ways in which bodies resist normativity. Focusing on how we create, inhabit, and resist dominant time orders, we ask how desiring, bringing forth, and struggling towards particular futures (even when those futures themselves resist futurity) can enact resistances.

This special issue of Feral Feminisms calls for submissions that explore the intersection of embodiment, temporality, and resistance. Time is necessarily embodied and is our opening into meaning, language, community, and resistance politics. How then are bodies that move, desire, communicate, fuck, laugh, stim, stutter, jiggle, give birth, and leak possible openings for more hospitable, generative, and anti-oppressive futures? Resisting dominant norms need not entail an outright refusal of the future, but rather, the refusal of a particular future. How can non-normative embodiments as sites of resistance reimagine and reinhabit rather than simply reject dominant temporal narratives?

Topics and questions may include, but are not limited to:

  • The temporality of resistance
  • Phenomenology of non-normative embodiments in relation to dominant temporalities
  • The racialization of time
  • The production of temporal narratives though cultural representations
  • How can time be reinscribed and/or reconstituted in and through embodiment?
  • Mothering out of, against, or through time.
  • How can normative futures be reimagined?
  • Economic speed and futurity
  • Post-workerism and anti-work politics
  • Death, dying, and illness
  • Eugenics and embodiment
  • Monuments, memorials, memory, and history
  • Trans* temporalities
  • “Risky lifestyles” and death
  • Healthism, anti-aging, and youth

CFP ISSUE 4 – Complicities, Connections, and Struggles: Critical Transnational Feminist Analysis of Settler Colonialism // CLOSED. Thanks to all who submitted.

Indigenous and/or critical race scholars and activists have raised questions about the anti-colonial and decolonization politics of diasporic people of colour living in white settler colonies. Some key discussions include whether people of colour are settlers, what their place is in the structure of white settler colonialism, and what kinds of anti- and de-colonial alliances they can form with Indigenous peoples in white settler colonies. Many of these conversations are heavily informed by the critiques of anti-racist scholarship put forth by the Mi’kmaw scholar Bonita Lawrence and Enakshi Dua (2005) in their article “Decolonizing Antiracism.” Critiquing anti-racist scholars for failing to ground their critiques in the original and ongoing colonial violence against Indigenous peoples of the lands they now occupy, Lawrence and Dua argue that people of colour are complicit in ongoing processes of settler colonialism and nation-building. While several theorists of colour engaged with this article by examining and challenging their own complicity in the ongoing dispossession of Indigenous peoples, some also challenged Lawrence and Dua’s arguments by critiquing their conflation of settler colonialism and immigration, and by questioning who is autochthonous to the land and what it means to claim rights based on indigeneity (Sharma and Wright, 2008/09).

With careful attention to semantics and with a firm caution to not metaphorize decolonization (Tuck and Yang, 2012), this special issue of Feral Feminisms calls for submissions that center indigenous sovereignty and self-determination, that explore the ways in which anti-racist theory and practice uphold and sustain colonial discourse, and that imagine social movements, communities, and scholarship that work within a social justice framework in ways that resist the reproduction of colonial dynamics. We encourage submissions that pay close attention to the ways in which multiple histories, violences, borders, spaces, time, race, gender, class, sexualities, and genealogies are mobilized to uphold white settler colonialism. We are also interested in exploring sites of solidarity, resistance, and hope between Indigenous peoples and people of colour. We invite contributors to displace the nation-state by engaging with critical feminist transnational perspective(s) and modes of knowledge production. We also take our cue here from Indigenous feminist writings that theorize Indigenous nationhood and sovereignty as challenges to the borders of white settler colonial states. Conjointly, we trace the lineages of these conversations to the contributions of Black feminists, feminists of colour, transnational feminists, and trans/queer theorists who disrupt the violence of settler colonialism by challenging the gendered and heteropatriarchal organizing of bodies in these white settler states.

Possible questions for exploration for this issue include:

  • What are some of the common grounds between Indigenous peoples and people of colour in struggles against racism, gender-based violence, poverty, exclusionary immigration policies, labour commodification and exploitation, police violence, the prison-industrial complex, ableist policies and structures, invasions, and wars, that need to be urgently (but ethically) examined?
  • How are histories and presents of Indigenous peoples in white settler colonies entangled with those of Indigenous peoples of former European colonies, those living within present-day American invasions (outside of the Americas), or those who have been forced on this land through generations of slavery?
  • How can we trace and resist histories, legacies and violences of anti-Black racism in settler colonial contexts?
  • How can we centre gender and sexuality in critiques of settler colonialism and white supremacy?
  • How can we challenge ableism within the nation state as well as in the academy and engage with critical disability theoretical interventions in the making of the settler nation state as well as racial formations?
  • How does trans theory help understand the making of gender and exclusionary violences in white settler states?
  • What place do migrants/refugees fleeing political, economic, and social wars – some instigated by the “West” and some from within the postcolonial nations – have in white settler societies?
  • In what ways do extant imperial and colonial forces operate differently towards these communities in terms of necropolitics (Mbembe, 2002) in determining who is invited into the realm of social life and who, instead, is confined to social death? More urgently, how does “social” death come to be, at its extent, implicated in genocide and concrete loss?

We welcome submissions from all fields that relate to Indigenous studies, social and political theory, critical race theory, anti-racism theory, settler colonialism, postcolonial theory, transnational theory, art and literature, critical disability studies, gender, feminist and women’s studies, trans and queer theory, and equity studies. We extend a hearty invitation to community members and social justice activists who engage in these discussion through their community work or activist endeavours. And, we clearly recognize that these categories of authors overlap and intertwine as resistance and survival are breathed in all spaces that we inhabit and travel in, and thus welcome contributions that challenge “academic writing” and the academic-industrial complex.

Special Submission Instructions: With your submission, please include a blurb (max. 300 words) stating your connection to the work you are submitting. While the blurb will not impact decision-making, it is meant to invite contributors to engage with the relationships between epistemology and knowledge production by evaluating their own social location as knowledge producers. To take the task of decolonizing knowledge seriously, it is imperative to question processes of knowledge production, creation, and distribution. Further, these blurbs will help the editors to better reflect on the submitted pieces and seek to place them in critical conversations with each other.

CFP ISSUE 3 – Feminine Feelers // Deadline 15 March 2014 // CLOSED. Thanks to all who submitted.


Photograph by Simon Panasiewicz

Prior to the recent Affective Turn in critical and cultural theory, feminist theory and philosophy had already been critiquing the role of rationality and the exclusion of emotion in Western thought. Elspeth Probyn (1993) argued for the inclusion of experiential accounts in understanding the relationship between feminist epistemology and ontology; and, Alison Jaggar (1989) worked to restore inquiry as the wisdom of love to Western epistemology by validating emotional acumen as a highly developed skill. For Jaggar, the one who feels different is an emotional outlaw. Emotional outlaws are a kind of precursor, grandmother or godmother, to Ahmed’s (2010) affect aliens: the feminist killjoy, who is angered by the sexist joke, or the melancholic migrant, who longs for something lost, or the unhappy queer, whose happiness is already impossible. Claire Hemmings (2012) has argued that being outside of emotional norms can offer a kind of unification, where affective dissonance is a starting point for feminist politics and can encourage affective solidarity.

But what of a return to previous conceptualizations of feeling in understanding the feminine and feminism? Luce Irigaray (1991), for example, writes of the erasure of the figure of the female lover and the simultaneous loss of the expression of feminine carnality, female divinity, and the representation of the female body. In light of these and other recent works (Cvetkovich, 2012; Grosz, 2011), how might we consider moving forward by taking into consideration feminine feelings?

Feminine Feelers are flustered, fraught, and feral. Feminine Feelers recall feminine modalities of feeling that have gone otherwise. Feminine Feelers ponder the position of emotional misfits such as female mystics, poets, artist, grandmothers, godmothers, cyborgs, golems, lovers, and Other(ed) figures. Feminine Feelers also highlight moments in feminist thought which illuminate the role of feelings and accounts of the body. What challenges does the turn to affect pose to feminist theory? How might we cultivate the sensory in order to tune into what is going on? Is the female an outsider, or is the feminist the outsider? How does outsider status offer a critical distance from cultural and emotional hegemonies? Must this distance be maintained in order to preserve difference?

This special issue of Feral Feminisms seeks to bring together scholars, activists, and artists to think through and feel through categories. Submitted contributions may include papers, visual art, film, poetry and literary pieces. Submissions are encouraged to address, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Cults of the feminine
  • Indigenous femininities
  • Figures and examples: emotional outlaws, affect aliens, fantastic feelers
  • Vocabularies of feeling
  • Feminine and feminist genealogies
  • Theoretical and methodological disjunctures within feminist and queer phenomenology, affect studies, cultural  emotion studies, cultural anthropology
  • Art and literature movements and their relationship to affects: the new sincerity, Remodernism, etc.
  • Edges, excesses, and limits of Feminine Feelers and feminine feelers
  • Animality, feelings, and non-human animals

CFP ISSUE 2 – Feminist Un/Pleasure: Reflections on Perversity, BDSM and Desire // CLOSED. Thanks to all who submitted! 

Photographer: Tania A. // Model: Gesig

What gets you off? Desire is a slippery concept, difficult to hold or describe, and certainly not consistent or interchangeable. An insatiable yearning for some is for others abhorrent and deserving of reprimand. The social complexities of perversion are therefore always in flux, influencing diverse manifestations of sexuality and its censorship. According to Freud’s early formulations on the two principles of psychic functioning, and later developed in his writings on the death drive, pleasure and unpleasure are intimately bound. Our primary drive encompasses both the unpleasure of an increase in excitation and the pleasure of its release. In other words, an individual’s relationship to unencumbered indulgence continually grapples with its denial. This fundamental tension also resonates beyond psychoanalysis, in feminist genealogies, as an ambivalence towards BDSM and “perverse” sexualities. Echoed in Carole Vance’s influential anthology, Pleasure and Danger, and the ongoing battles of the sex wars, feminist sexuality encompasses both enjoyment and suffering wrapped tightly around the politics of desire. This apparent contradiction of painful enjoyment also weaves throughout BDSM sexuality itself, where the lines between violence, sex, and love begin to blur.

This special issue of Feral Feminisms aims to complicate, untame, queer and radicalize tumultuous legacies of pleasure and unpleasure by reflecting upon the current intersections of feminist desire and BDSM sexuality. Topics of inquiry may include, but are not limited to:

  • pleasure and pain in feminist sexualities
  • resonances of canonical sexologists such as Richard von Kraft Ebbing on contemporary perverse sexualities
  • the instability of sexual subcultures vs mainstream
  • gender and power play
  • representations of perverse feminist sexuality in film, literature, and art
  • Fifty Shades of Grey and histories of erotic fiction
  • psychoanalytic theories of BDSM and/or perversion
  • affect and kinky feminist desire
  • sex work and professional dominatrices
  • critical interrogations into the construction of subversive sexualities
  • masochism, sadism, fetishism
  • the politicization of BDSM
  • death, the death drive, and queer sexualities
  • addressing white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, colonialism, heteronormativity, and/or patriarchy through scenes of perversion
  • limit experience
  • BDSM sexuality as performance