Annual Symposium

CHR's Second Annual Research Symposium will take place on April 27-28, 2023 and be fully virtual.

Be sure to register for more information and updates about the conference!

CHR's second annual research symposium will begin on Thursday evening, April 27 followed by a day of panels on Friday, April 28. The conference revolves around our annual theme of connecting/not connecting. 

The idea of connection has multiple valences, critical and utopian, historical and contemporaneous, for the humanities. Connection might imply “community,” which at once signals voluntary affiliation and its opposite: forms of exclusion and non-belonging. “Community” can empower people through forms of social and political solidarity, it can serve as a foundation for people’s sense of belonging, and identity, but it can also compel conformity, defined by antipathies and cleavages, or as naturalized, obligatory belonging. Notions of communal or collective responsibility can serve as the basis for recognition of structural ills and their redress, but they can also become the basis for group stigmatization. Communities can be undone through acts of violence, through ideological provocation, or through the struggle over territory. Equally, they can be undone by the slow attrition wrought by social-economic forces (such as gentrification, the passing-away of unions, the loss of jobs or the demands of new forms of labor), by environmental and demographic developments, the emergence of a disease, the impact of climate change. Might there be alternatives to “community”, new imaginative forms of working, organizing, or living together?

Seyla BenhabibWe are thrilled to announce that our keynote speaker is Professor Seyla Benhabib! Dr. Benhabib is the Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Philosophy Emerita at Yale University, where she taught from 2001-2022. She is currently Scholar in Residence at Columbia Law School and Professor Adjunct of Law, where she teaches legal and political theory as well as a course on refugee, migration and citizenship law in comparative perspective. She also holds appointments in Columbia University’s Center for Contemporary Critical Thought and the Department of Philosophy. Professor Benhabib is the recipient of the Ernst Bloch prize (2009), the Leopold Lucas Prize (2012), and the Meister Eckhart Prize (2014), a Guggenheim Fellowship (2011-12) and was Fellow at the WissenschaftsKolleg in Berlin in 2009. She has written and co-edited over 15 books on critical theory from Hegel to Habermas; Hannah Arendt; discourse ethics, feminist theory and human rights and her work has been translated into 12 languages.

This will be a fully virtual conference, so we hope you will join no matter where you may be. Please visit our Eventbrite page for registration and details!


Recap of CHR's First Annual Symposium: "Pasts/Presents/Futures," April 7-8, 2022

zoomSee a complete schedule and speaker bios here.

Keynote Speaker: Kara Keeling 

Both days of events are free and open to all, from aspiring to established humanities scholars. 
Because of its cross-disciplinary nature, the symposium will also interest those outside or at the intersection of traditional humanities fields whose work relates to CHR's 2021-22 theme--
This year's symposium theme is Pasts/Presents/Futures:
The experience of the pandemic has brought with it a heightened awareness of the complexity of time. It is at once an experience of what political theorist Elizabeth Povinelli might call the “durative present,” as the past feels irretrievably lost, and a post-pandemic future unimaginable. And yet at the same time, the racial reckoning provoked by the murder of George Floyd underscores the ways in which racialized violence infuses the present, revealing that what we had assumed to be “the past,” in fact lives on in the present. When trapped in a durative present how might we imagine a different future? These contradictory experiences of time remind us that it is neither natural nor fixed. Conceptions of time have, historically, delimited what we are able—and unable—to see, lending certain events, peoples, and subjectivities visibility while pushing others into obscurity. 
For this two-day virtual symposium, we will be joined by scholars from Mason and (far!) beyond, representing a range of humanistic disciplines, whose work interrogates the politics and possibilities of temporal encounters.
They keynote address will be given by Professor Kara Keeling (Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago) on the evening of April 7, and a day of panels and other events will follow on April 8.


More about the Annual Symposium:

CHR's Annual Symposium is organized around the Center’s research theme. It features a keynote address and aims to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars working in areas related to the theme. In addition to active participation by graduate students, undergraduates are welcome and those accepted into the Undergraduate Symposium Seminar have the opportunity to meet the keynote speaker and engage in discussion with her or him about their work. In the future, the symposium will also feature thematically related talks and programming aimed at the larger DMV community.