Call for Papers

Chiasma #9 Why are we [still] doing Theory?

Chiasma: A Site for Thought is pleased to invite submissions for its ninth issue, on theoretical and philosophical investigations on the relationship between ‘Theory’ and the university. Our world is on the precipice of multiple, intersecting catastrophes. A global pandemic is matched in intensity and destruction by ecological cataclysm, mimetic tendencies of fascist governmentality, and the threat of global war. Benjamin Bratton has labeled these crises the ‘revenge of the real’: the return of a repressed material world that interrupts the intellectual stability of the constructivist and textual renderings of contemplative life. These experiences invoke questions that have haunted theoretical inquiry from its inception: What is the role of theory in an age of perpetual crisis? What is or should the role of the academy be? Why do we continue to engage in such practices? Marx famously argued that “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways, the point, however, is to change it!” Marx’s position offers the basis not only of critical theory as it is defined by Horkheimer, but also Arendt’s distinction between vita contemplativa and vita activa. Is there an active life for the intellectual that directly attests to changing the world? Such crises raise questions about and reflect on the university itself (namely, its self-abjection in the normalization of perpetual precarity with the adjunct position). 

Theory’s relationship to the university is fraught. Departments and positions in the humanities are increasingly cut in favor of professional degrees. While there have been various theoretical interventions into the relationship between philosophy’s capture by the university, conversations surrounding theoretical inquiry and interdisciplinarity (not to mention debates surrounding terminology of interdisciplinary, multidisciplinarity, and trans-disciplinarity), remain foregrounded in the university setting. This situation curates which voices, ideas, and positions are taken seriously. Many have attempted to bring attention to the violent erasure in these spaces. Some have attempted to escape these confines through journals, blogs, and other para-academic spaces that seek to foster new generations of thinkers operating outside the confines of academic curation and erasure. 

Issue 9 of Chiasma invites papers on topics surrounding these intersecting motifs. Topics may include, but are by no means limited to: 

  • What is the role of theory in addressing imminent calamities? Does theory have a role to play or ought it be marginalized? Is there a purpose to theoretical application (e.g. ‘rhizomatics and the Anthropocene’)? What is the relationship of theory and praxis in the contemporary world? What is the intersection of contemplation and action (à la Marx, Horkheimer, Arendt)? Might it be better to think rather than act (vis-à-vis Žižek)?
  • The violent erasure of marginalized voices through the curation of academic space, whether this be racial, (post-)colonial, class, gender or sexuality based, or by other means of exclusion. Can the subaltern speak? Might the para-academy offer similar challenges?
  • Discussions on the normative promotion of ‘peer review’ and discussions surrounding mores of contemporary academic publishing. This might include discussions of practical conservatism in philosophical thought (such as the emphasis on the history of philosophy), more general insights into the neoliberalization of the publishing process, and discussions on the use and abuse of peer review. 
  • Comparative approaches on the academy and para-academy, including analysis of future interdisciplinary practices (such as generic epistemology), conversations of the use of pseudonyms, and possibilities for publishing outside of traditional structures. Are blogs or even Twitter threads legitimate modes of theorizing?
  • Phenomenological theories of the use of theoria from Hussel’s Crisis of the European Sciences through Merleau-Ponty’s considerations of embodiment. 
  • Can the popularization of theory yield political change (whether desirable or not)? Wither the popular academic? 
  • The return of the repressed real; the repression of theory; haunting (‘hauntology’) of/in contemporary capitalism. 

We welcome articles in a range of theoretical disciplines, from philosophical investigation to psychoanalytic theory, cultural and social theory to discussions of aesthetics. 

Articles should be 6,000-8,000 words long (references included), formatted according to the Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition and cited with footnotes. Articles should include abstracts of ~150 words. Please send anonymized articles with abstracts (with the subject of the email reading: “[Author Name], Submission to Issue 9”) to by September 1, 2022. Please include in the body of the email the name, title, affiliation, and correspondence email of the author(s). Full submission guidelines can be found here. Expected publication in late 2023-early 2024.. 

Given the nature of this issue, some authors may wish to publish using a pseudonym. If interested in going this route, feel free to contact us in advance and we can discuss the logistics. We’ll be happy to work with you towards this end. 

Chiasma: A Site for Thought was established in September 2013 as an annual, double-blind, peer-reviewed journal for the generation and dispersion of theory and philosophy, emphasizing contemporary continental philosophy. While recognizing the theoretical humanities as a pursuit born of the crossing of continental philosophy, social and political theory, literary criticism, media studies, and cultural studies, Chiasma: A Site for Thought places emphasis on those genetic moments that displace theory and philosophy from their histories, without abandoning them to an auxiliary position between disciplines. The journal therefore aims at the affirmation of the power of speculative thought across disciplines to recombine and mutate the societal, historical, and academic coordinates from which it comes.

Chiasma: A Site For Thought does not have author publication charges.