Bodies on the edge of citizenship, citizenship on the edge of pandemic?


Bodies on the edge of citizenship, citizenship on the edge of pandemic?


Call For Papers, online conference/workshop 28 June - 2 July 2021


When the Edge of Citizenship project began at Portsmouth, two years ago, we could not have imagined that it would collide with a new reality so abruptly. Our broad focus on the ‘edge’ of citizenship, and its double-meaning, the margin to which some are pushed and the distinctions which slice through and between groups everywhere, was an attempt to bring together diverse perspectives, and cast light on the complexity and hierarchy that shades the overtly positive image of the rights-holding, ‘belonging’ citizen.

Covid-19 seemingly shattered much of that image. Suddenly, the normative ordinary citizens of normative constitutional democracies did not even have the right to leave their homes without (as very concretely in France, for example) providing their justificatory ‘papers’ for the authorities. Suddenly, we all appeared (as Giorgio Agamben provocatively asserted) helplessly clutched in the grip of a massive state fist, a final affirmation of the power of exception. Yet as we have all been facing up to the real horror of a situation in which hundreds of thousands have been struck down at random, we have also seen that, in this context, Agamben’s ferociously powerful state has trembled under the burden, while authoritarian ideologues and opportunists have all applied their favourite explanations and remedies, reality notwithstanding.

So it appears as if, while everything has changed, it is quite possible that nothing will change. Can there be an academic route to engagement with questions of what all this disruption will be for? Can there be ways of opening up debate that take account of the ‘same old’ grim realities, and inject them with new Covid-flavoured urgency?

We would now like to use a variety of ways to stimulate conversation, over the week 28 June - 2 July 2021, inviting contributions in a range of possible formats:


  • A social-media model for the dissemination of short textual presentations, e.g. using Twitter to present a series of ‘powerpoint slide’ images, each accompanied by brief written commentary;
  • Pre-recorded video talks, written papers, and other audio-visual formats;
  • Short poster-style interventions, as text, infographic or animation;
  • Opportunities for live video-conference workshops and asynchronous exchange via ‘blog-comment’ formats;


Our general range of areas for focus is below. We are happy to receive suggestions for contributions that address any of them, singly or in combination, or other related topics not specifically mentioned. This includes observations that are historical as well as contemporary, and covering any and all geographies: 


  • Ethnicity, “race”, and models and modalities of national citizenship;
  • Sex, gender, and identity in conceptions of a citizen-body;
  • Disability, normativity, and the exercise of citizenship rights;
  • Infancy and incapacity, ageing, life-stages, & citizenship in the face of death;
  • Productive and reproductive labour, consumption, and economic citizenship;
  • The “public sphere” as actual and conceptual space for embodied citizenship;
  • The transnational as a framework for citizen rights and exclusions;
  • Intersections between any of the above realms, and/or other dimensions.


Please contact <edgeofcitizenship [at] ()> with expressions of interest, no later than Friday 19 March 2021. Please indicate what form of presentation/interaction you would be most interested in, and provide a brief (1-page max.) summary CV and 100 to 300 words on what you would like to present.