2023 Graduate Student Conference in Education

The 19th annual York University Graduate Student Conference in Education

May 11th - 13th, 2023 (VIRTUAL)
Call for Proposals: OTHER WORLDS, ANY WAYS
Abstracts due: Friday February 24th, 2023 @ 11:59 pm
For more information, refer to the Call for Submissions HERE.

“Utopia is on the horizon: when I walk two steps, it takes two steps back...I walk ten steps, and it is ten steps further away. What is utopia for? It is for this, for walking.” -Eduardo Galeano.

"Historically pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it." -Arundhati Roy.

In early 2020, the pandemic was poised as a portal. The hidden knowledge it illuminated felt confrontational, disruptive, and generative; an opportunity to “break with the past and imagine [our] world anew” (Roy, 2020), one we are ready to fight for. Passing through this portal, we find ourselves in the very future that we both feared and imagined. As activist, organizer, and abolitionist Mariama Kaba (Sonenstein & Wilson, 2018) says, perhaps we are feeling despair that our pandemic desires for more just futures have not come to fruition.

Instead, we find ourselves holding on to the complex sensations, broken certainties and ethical concerns that we were- and continue to be- attuned to, albeit with more and more resistance from the status quo. Rather than falling into despair and hopelessness, we are influenced by decolonial and post-foundational thinkers to imagine what hope-fulness might mean now. We understand ongoing world-building as an antidote to hope-lessness that resists solution-ogenic measures and relies on collective commitment.

In conversation with Sonestein and Wilson (2018), Mariama Kaba points out that hope is a discipline; its interpretation as a transitory emotion, or an ambiguous, generalized sensation is overemphasized. Kaba positions hope as an action that requires effortful work inside and out, a persistent commitment to organized thinking and action. We position this commitment and action within our call as an act of worlding, or the making of a different future, where making is both collective and personal-utopian, unattainable, yet necessary. Hence, other worlds, anyways. To world is to start from a utopian desire, in framing utopia not as a place, but a paradigm- out there and in us.

Other worlds, anyways, as positioned in the title of our call is an expression of hope. In Rehearsals for Living (2021), we are challenged by and cautiously and care-fully take up scholar and professor of Black Feminisms, Robyn Maynard and Michi Saagiig Nishnaabeg scholar/writer/musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s (2021) call to dream by storying and creating new worlds. All the while we are reminded that we have a responsibility to human and more than human lives, and the caretakers of the Land in world building or worlding as Simpson writes:

[M]y ancestors got up and built life, every day, no matter what period they built life even if it lasted for a fraction of a second at the hands of the colonial death machine. They built it anyway. Over and over - because they believed the practice of life building to be the essence of life, and crucial for the generation of more life, or mino-bimaadiziwin. They knew that, even if life was taken away from them, this practice of world building might still plant seeds for others, both human and non human. This practice of collective world-building might unlock knowledge that has the potential to nurture more life giving beginnings. This wisdom comes from the land. (p. 257)

As we move from our 2021 conference titled RE:, that asked us to consider what a viral possibility or portal meant, we are holding on to our pandemic desires for re:imagining otherwise worlds. In this conference, haunted by our dream-making during re: and Donna Haraway’s (2016) assertion that “it matters what worlds make worlds”, we are compelled to practice worlding, keeping in that mind that it matters who and what we draw on and think with as we imagine and create these worlds. We have a responsibility to be careful and be led by scholars and thinkers who antagonize the status quo.

We also understand that as graduate students, interested in making a more just education, our practices of worlding are and are not about a utopia. We understand from Galeano’s version of utopia (Solnit, 2006) that it is not about arriving there, but about walking and moving together towards our utopic desires for justice and otherwise worlds. Walking and moving towards utopia is not an innocent or neutral endeavour. It means that we attend to what we trample as we walk, as we cut new openings, new ways of creating worlds in uncertainty (Zylinska, 2014). It means we pay attention to who is leading and who is following. It means that the walking and moving is the work, the building, the doing and practice of hope and that, amidst despair, we do it any ways.

We move with the notion of “post”-pandemic, with the lingering thickness of last year’s conference that seems so distant but pushes us anyways (still). In this temporal space between what has passed and what is to come, the flickers of turbulent pandemic desire ask us now to build other worlds anyways, not as romanticized utopia but as a discipline of hope.

 This conference calls us to situate our work at the point of walking towards the horizon, the utopia to engage in ongoing world-building as a practice and collective commitment, thinking with and through the following questions:

 

  1. What do we mean by world-building or worlding? Whose world? How can we build responsible worlds in education?
  2. What does it mean to world-build on foundations of an oppressive education system?
  3. How do we re:world education (pedagogies, practices, teaching/learning) in the ruins and deliberate ethical possibilities for livable futures?
  4. How do we move/dream/make together worlds that move us from and towards our utopic desires for justice and otherwise? What might this mean for teaching and learning?

We invite graduate students to submit proposals for our graduate conference Other Worlds, Any Ways. You may submit a proposal for any of the following formats: paper, panel, salon, and poster (/multimedia). Please see our submission guidelines below for more information.

References

Haraway, D. (2016). Staying with the trouble : making kin in the Chthulucene. Duke University Press.

Maynard, R. & Simpson, L. B. (2021). Rehearsals for Living. Alfred A Knopf Canada.

Roy, A. (2020, April 3). ‘The pandemic is a portal’. The Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/10d8f5e8-74eb-11ea-95fe-fcd274e920ca

Solnit, R. (2006). Hope in the dark : untold histories, wild possibilities. Penguin Canada.

Sonenstein, B. & Wilson, K. (2018, January 5). Hope Is A Discipline feat. Mariame Kaba (No. 19). [Audiopodcast episode]. In Beyond Prisons. https://www.beyond-prisons.com/home/hope-is-a-discipline-feat-mariame-kaba

Zylinska, J. (2014). Minimal ethics for the anthropocene. Open Humanities Press.