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LumpenCity: Call for Abstracts: Interdisciplinary Conference at York University

Toronto, Canada | March 12-13, 2009 | www.lumpencity.com Lumpen-City: Discourses of Marginality | Marginalizing Discourses Research on marginalized urban residents has been an academic cottage industry throughout the history of the social sciences – addressing social problems related to issues such as poverty, crime, youth, race, ethnicity, gender, health, and employment. To apprehend these notions of difference, conceptualizations of the poor, the underclass, the outcast, the ghetto, exclusion, marginality and others have been developed and applied. Inevitably, research defines and represents a group and, as such, influences everyday preconceptions and politico-administrative strategies, including policies, regulations and laws.

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Contextualizing cultural and behavioural patterns of marginalized
populations, academic and activist research commonly seeks to humanize
an excluded group and/ or suggest alternative strategies of
intervention and modes of engagement by which to remedy the inequities
of a particular situation. However, by virtue of representation, fixity
is imposed upon the identified population. Marginalized and excluded
groups are often rendered vulnerable and passive through the
circumscribed dictates of representational inscription. How can
innovative and creative discourses break with this pattern of

This conference challenges academics and activist-scholars alike to
reflect upon the realities and potentialities of research on
marginalized urban populations in the context of their struggles. We
invite scholarly contributions which illuminate issues of
representation by exploring multiple axes of identity such as class,
race, gender, ethnicity, age, ability / disability, and sexuality.

The York University Sociology Graduate Students' Association (YSGA), in
conjunction with the City Institute at York University and the
Collaborative Urban Research Laboratory (CURL) invite academics and
activist-scholars to participate in the interdisciplinary debates of
this conference on Thursday, March 12th and Friday, March 13th 2009 in
Toronto, Canada.

We accept proposals for:

  • Academic papers (Presentation of 20 minutes)
  • Short films, art, poetry or other forms of creative dialogue.

The deadline for proposals / abstracts (approx. 250 words) is January 5, 2009.
Submission materials and general inquiries should be addressed to:

Selected papers will be considered for publication.

For updates, please see

Possible areas of engagement include, but are not limited to:

1. Methodological engagements:

 The poetics and politics of representation
 Comparing marginality across borders & boundaries
 The description, inscription, and circumscription of research design
 Ethnographic immersions
 Activist alliances
 Methodological alterities: Narratives of inversion/subversion

2. Institutional interrogations:

 Local, extra-local, regional, national, international contextualizations
 Welfare state retrenchment and visions of poverty
 The funding and financing of research
 Fashions, fads and foibles of urban research
 Re-structuring the university
 University-community collaborations

3. Controversies and Contestations:

 Spectacularization of the urban outcast
 Spaces of Struggle: Neoliberal citizenship and representations of
urban marginality
 Post/Colonialism and the metropolis
 The Unrepresentable Multitude in the Lumpen-City
 Public sociology / sociologies
 The marginalized and media discourse

4. Challenges and Change:

 The role of activism in academia
 Critique and the public sphere
 Research, resistance and revolution
 Envisioning the just city: claiming the right to the city
 Social movements, citizenship and critical urban praxis
 Progressive visual and aesthetic engagements

Conference Keynote Panel:

Ashanti Alston
Activist / Researcher, National Jericho Movement, Estación Libre,
Institute for Anarchist Studies

Viviane Saleh-Hanna
Professor of Sociology, Anthropology and Crime and Justice Studies,
UMass Dartmouth

Rinaldo Walcott
Associate Professor, OISE University of Toronto

David Wilson
Professor of Geography, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign