Conferences – Call for Papers

"Visualizing and Investigating the Imagination of Contemporary Activism"

The “Peasant Activism Project” in cooperation with the network “Anthropology and Social Movements” of the European Association of Social Movements (EASA), promotes the second meeting of the Political Imagination Laboratory: Visualizing and Investigating the Imagination of Contemporary Activism.

  • Date: 08.12.2017 – 10.12.2017
  • Institution: University of Perugia
  • Location: Perugia / Italien
  • Documents to: lab[at]

What visions animate contemporary activism? How to uncover those utopian aspirations, strategic and/or ideological horizons that too often pass implicitly, silently or invisibly?

The “Political Imagination Laboratory” aims to explore and interrogate the shifting political imagination of contemporary social movements and forms of activism. It invites social scientists, filmmakers and activists to submit papers or visual projects (completed documentaries or works in progress). Proposed presentations should engage with ethnography and/or fieldwork related to different forms of social movement research that address the imagination of contemporary activism around the world.

“The Lab” will alternate paper presentations with film screenings, key-note lectures, roundtable discussions and in-depth discussion workshops, emphasizing horizontal discussions and personal interactions. The selection will be based on the quality of content, methodological innovation and relevance in the sense that it will allow the laboratory to promote a dialogical and experimental comparison of different methodological and conceptual approaches based on fieldwork.

Imaginative Practices and Practical Imagination

Political imagination inspires, drives and challenges activist practices to become – more or less – imaginative. Instead of reaching out to utopian imagination, many contemporary forms of activism seem to privilege everyday utopias or contingent autonomous spaces. However, this practical imagination can provide insights into how we live together and how we are governed.

The second “Political Imagination Laboratory” invites visual works and papers that allow to explore imaginative practices and the practical imagination across a range of contemporary forms of mobilization. Fieldwork, first-hand observations and interviews can show how activism has the potential to revitalize progressive politics, invent innovative practices, or drive us to rethink common sense concepts such as equality, justice, rights, development, gender or labour.

The topics of interests include but are not limited to:

  • The end of transgression: is transgression still possible? If, what is it that is challenged or disobeyed?
  • The complexities of right struggles: imagination and practice of struggles over citizenship, ethnicity, gender, class, gender, race or caste?
  • Culture and critique of human rights imagination as a means to strive for justice, solidarity and inclusion
  • How can we describe the imagination behind everyday activism, concrete utopias and contingent autonomous spaces?
  • How should we care for each other? Everyday utopias in alternative health practices and the changing health system
  • What imagination about “being in the world” is revealed through practicing gender, intersectionality and experiments of the self?
  • How shape alternative economic practices, markets or circuits the socio-economic imagination?
  • The potential and limits of eco-communities and the changing environmental imagination
  • How to imagine the concept of citizenship? Fortresses, borders, migrant and asylum activism


The organizers invite both papers and visual projects (completed documentaries or projects in progress).

PAPER PRESENTATIONS: Please submit your abstract (max. 300 words) for a paper of about 20 minutes before the deadline to: lab[at] The abstract should also include your academic affiliation and role.

Please submit your (audio-)visual project (completed documentaries or works in progress) with a short description (max. 300 words) before the deadline. In order to stimulate debate, videos of ca. 30 minutes will be preferred; for longer completed documentaries, a short version accompagnied by a presentation would be more adequate. Please upload your video to a cloud drive with the link to: lab[ (or by surface mail to: Political Imagination Laboratory, Antropologia- Dipartimento di Filosofia, Scienze Sociali, Umane e della Fomazione (FISSUF), Piazza Morlachi 30, 06123 Perugia, Italy).
Notification of accepted presentations: 16th September 2017.


If your presentation is accepted, the organizers will offer you two nights of accommodation free-of-charge in a University-owned guesthouse for visiting academics located at a 10-minutes’ walk from the conference facility. Most meals will also be covered. However, you need to arrange transportation to and from the conference by yourself.
This 2-day workshop will be hosted at “Palazzo Stocchi” of the Dipartimento di Filosofia, Scienze Sociali, Umane e della Formazione (FISSUF), University of Perugia, Italy and is organised by the team of the “Peasant Activism Project” (financed by the Economic and Social Science Research Council [ESRC] and hosted by Queen’s University Belfast), in cooperation with the network “Anthropology and Social Movements” of the European Association of Social Movements (EASA) and the Centre for Documentary Research at Queen’s University Belfast.

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