Disrupting Visibility: The Politics of Passing
Date of conference: 12 June 2015
Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Writer and journalist Juliet Jacques
Professor Sara Ahmed (Goldsmiths)
Location: Goldsmiths, University of London
“But you see, I have no choice. I’m cornered. If I tell you who I am, you become nervous and uncomfortable, or antagonized. But if I don’t tell you who I am, I have to pass for white. And why should I have to do that?” -Adrian Piper
The activity of passing has been traditionally associated with mixed-raced individuals, particularly in the United States, whose appearance allowed them to be classified as a different racial group; to pass was often to “pass for white.” While still racially charged, the idea of passing has been used to make sense of other social relations such as sexuality, class and gender. The epigraph above highlights how passing can be the site of social anxiety. Passing can be disturbing because it challenges the seemingly close relationship between vision and knowledge, between seeing and knowing. And yet, when passing is successful, passing is not seen. Passing might reveal the unstable nature of identities that are not always obvious, nor readily available for the eye to decipher. Passing might be continually performed and enacted to be made “real.” This conference seeks to explore passing in all its ramifications and the intricate work that it does. What are we doing when we are passing? Who passes, and why? How can passing be a source of pride and shame, of pleasure and pain? How can passing be about danger and survival? How can passing be both transgressive and conservative?
The organisers welcome contributions for 20-minute presentations from postgraduate students and early career researchers that explore passing in all its forms and representations. They are interested both in academic and more creative engagements with the subject, such as performances and visual presentations. Topics may include, but are not limited to:
-Representations of gender, race and class passing in art, film, popular media and literature
-Transgender passing and experience
-Lesbian and gay invisibility: heterosexual passing
-Passing and visibility: marked and unmarked bodies
-Class passing: from social mobility to slumming
-Passing as a survival strategy: negotiating social discrimination
-Objectification and self-fashioning: passing as creative individualism
-Unwillingly fitting stereotypes or assimilation: passing as violence
-Refusing to pass: rejecting codes of conduct and queer expressions
-Intersectional passing: navigating multiple identifications and borders
-Passing as a challenge to “authentic” or “natural” identities or, passing as searching for the “real” self
Please email proposals of no more than 250 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 10 April 2015. Please include also your name, institutional affiliation and a short biography of up to 100 words.
Organised by Linnete Manrique and Morgane Conti, PhD candidates Department of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths.
For more information, including location and accommodation, visit the conference website passingconference.tumblr.com
The conference is supported by the Graduate School, Department of Media and Communications and the Centre for Feminist Research at Goldsmiths.