About the Conference


Representations of the Body: Exploring the intersections of race, gender, and disability 

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”

-Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider

Now in its third year, the Critical Juncture conference at Emory University provides a forum for emerging scholars to engage with important thinkers on topics that reach beyond traditional disciplinary lines. This year’s conference, “Representations of the Body,” will center on work that interrogates the complex intersections of multiple identities: race, class, gender, sexuality, ability, nationality, and beyond. Such intersecting identities affect how and why our bodies endure a range of experiences between agency and subjugation, wellness and infirmity, inclusion and alienation. Representations of the body in culture, politics, history, and science change as we move through space, place, and time, rendering our bodily experiences dynamic, but no less material.

Critical Juncture brings together scholars from a variety of fields that may rarely or never meet at typical conferences, with attendees coming from the humanities, social sciences, neuroscience, biological sciences, public health, and medicine. Conversations at the conference may range from the representation of difference in literary or cultural texts, to research on the social determinants of health, to the ethics of human subjects research, and beyond. Together, we will ask which bodies are, and perhaps more importantly which are not, represented in science, politics, the arts, and the academy, also asking what form this representation takes. This rich environment will provide attendees the opportunity to share their research beyond the limits of their own disciplines, and to have their work reinvigorated by exposure to new perspectives.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Ellen Samuels, who holds joint appointments in English and Gender & Women’s Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her recent book, Fantasies of Identification: Disability, Gender, Race, charts a course through the history of what she calls “biocertification”—the obsession with delimiting social identities with supposedly objective scientific classifications, from blood quanta to genetic testing to fingerprinting. Samuels employs literary analysis, the history of law and public policy, scientific tracts, and beyond to shed light on our modern perceptions of the solidity of social categories like race, gender, and disability.

In order to maximize the potential for interaction, in place of traditional oral paper presentations, we will feature shorter panel presentations with ample time for discussion, a poster reception with lightning talks, and themed seminars with experts from the Emory community, including Sander Gilman, Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, Sherman James, Deboleena Roy, Dabney Evans, Paul Root WolpeHannah Cooper, and Abigail Sewell, on topics ranging from police brutality, to disability bioethics, to gender in the laboratory.

The conference will include a performance by Full Radius Dance, an Atlanta-based physically integrated professional dance company, and a discussion with the filmmaker of a documentary about the company. Throughout the two-day conference, there will be ample opportunity to converse and make connections with a wide range of thinkers.

The conference is brought to you by the following Emory departments and organizations: Science & Society; the Departments of Film, Theater, Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies, History, French & Italian, English, Comparative Literature, Program in the Socio-Contextual Determinants of Health, Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology; by the Office of the Provost, Laney Graduate School’s New Thinkers New Leaders Fund, the Disability Studies Initiative, the Institute for Liberal Arts, the Hightower Fund, the Graduate Student Council, Rollins School of Public Health, Visual Scholarship Initiative, Global & Postcolonial Studies, the Center for Mind, Brain, and Culture, the Psychoanalytic Studies Program, the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Program in Bioethics, and the James Weldon Johnson Institute.

2 thoughts on “About the Conference

  1. To Whom It May Concern: I applaud you on an ambitious conference embracing such a wide range of topics relevant to today’s societal issues. However; I believe there is one MAJOR topic that is not addressed by such a conference, but that should be sooner rather than later. That topic is “Geriatric Issues.” This includes finding meaning in our old age and better preparing our senior citizens to face the realities and decisions they cannot avoid as we age. For more details, please see “The Other Talk” by Tim Prosch. Sincerely yours,
    David C. Camp, Ph.D.
    Emory University B.A., 1955 (Mathematics)
    Indiana University Ph.D, 1963 (Nuclear Physics)

    1. Fabulous suggestion, Dr. Camp! Though we do not mention age anywhere explicitly, we would certainly welcome proposals that talk about geriatric issues–which relates to questions about which sorts of bodies we value and grant legitimacy and resources to in our medical system and broader culture.

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