Forthcoming Issues


Quantum Possibilities: The Work Of Karen Barad. Edited by Peta Hinton (University of New South Wales, Australia), Michael O'Rourke (Independent Colleges, Dublin, Ireland) and Karin Sellberg (The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom).
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Calls For Papers

Rhizomes 29 Special Issue, Black Holes: Afro-Pessimism, blackness and the discourses of Modernity. Edited by Dalton Anthony Jones. Abstracts due by by June 1, 2014; essays due by September 1, 2014.
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Rhizomes 30 Special Issue, CUTENESS! Edited by Michael O'Rourke and Rachel Law, in collaboration with Hyperrhiz.
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Upcoming Issue: "Quantum Possibilities: The Work Of Karen Barad."

Edited by Peta Hinton (University of New South Wales, Australia), Michael O'Rourke (Independent Colleges, Dublin, Ireland) and Karin Sellberg (The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom).

This special issue of Rhizomes: Cultural Studies in Emerging Knowledge takes as its focus positive and critical engagements with the work of Karen Barad, drawing together a number of voices to offer a nuanced and current response to her emerging theories of ontology and materiality.

Barad's reading of quantum phenomena has gained considerable popularity in the past few years, not least with Slavoj Žižek's attention to it in his most recent book Less Than Nothing. As a result of this increasing and significant engagement, something of a critical mass has developed within cultural, feminist, and science studies. In foregrounding matter's dynamic entanglement with/in conceptual work and forms of representation, Barad radically shifts the anthropocentric stronghold on meaning making by conjuring a posthumanist performative agency that demands attention to the materially constitutive processes and practices that participate in, and as, inquiry. If, for Barad, identity only emerges in mutually constitutive relation, these quantum levels of engagement raise significant and counter-intuitive suggestions for how political and ethical accountability materialises and stabilises.

Many of the terms introduced and developed in Barad's oeuvre, such as 'intra-action', 'diffraction' and 'agential realism' have shifted the standard metrics of knowledge production and her theories have inspired animated discussion in fields as varied as neo-materialism, new materialist feminism, object oriented ontology, posthumanism, speculative realism, and the philosophy of physics, among others. In view of the prolific and largely positive climate of its reception, it appears timely, then, to consider whether or where a certain doxa might be emerging within existing approaches to (and 'applications of') Barad's conceptual toolkit that would sidestep some of its more provocative suggestions, or where her writing might encounter more critically inflected engagement(s).

This special issue seeks to bring together a range of approaches that problematise the directions and/or identify and explore some of the compelling or crucial insights that Barad's work offers. Through it, we would like to encourage a discussion that continues to question, rather than assume, the 'who' of boundary making practices, so avoiding any fetishisation and/or simplification of diffraction, entanglement or the agential cut. We have sought a set of contributions that refuse to assume political identities and categorizations in order 'to find ways to think about the nature of causality, origin, relationality and change without taking these distinctions to be foundational or holding them in place' (Barad, 2011: 124). This move shifts the terms, for example, from how 'we' might 'do' politics, ethics, or research 'differently', to the politico-ethico-material production of specificity. Contributors to this issue have been encouraged to consider the provocative, problematic, and promising aspects of Barad's theoretical output and uptake, as well as to speculate about the possible directions that her concepts might take in the future. Such critical interrogations of Barad's thinking might foreground some of the following pressing questions: what ecological and/or environmental orientations does her work suggest? How does it challenge and/or extend current scientific paradigms? How does it rethink the habitual limits of the ethical? How might it continue to open questions of responsibility and complicity? Or how might it reopen questions of justice?

Given the focus of Barad's inquiry into the nature of difference and (re)production, the breadth of her work's disciplinary reach, and its capacity to displace disciplinary habitats, this special issue promises an inter- or intra-disciplinary engagement. We are pleased to say that Karen Barad will be making a contribution to this issue which will also include a bibliography of primary and secondary work on and by Barad.

Publication of this special number is anticipated in Spring 2014.

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Call for Papers: Rhizomes 29
Special Issue, Black Holes: Afro-Pessimism, blackness and the discourses of Modernity

Deleuze and Guattari deploy the image of the black hole to describe the grotesque disfigurations — the pores, blackheads and little scars — pockmarking the "semiotic face of capitalism." It is an apt analogy for the unsettling position of blackness in relation to contemporary thought and political practice. In this special issue of Rhizomes we use the black hole as a conceptual starting point to consider how racial blackness serves as a vortex disrupting the smooth administration of late-capital and our resistance to it. An increasingly precise challenge is on the table that has largely been met with silence by radical theorists and activists alike. This challenge, what is often expediently called, "afro-pessimism," has targeted the foundations of modern critical thought and declared them ineffective given their inability to engage what Wilderson describes as "the structural relation between Blacks and Humanity as an antagonism (an irreconcilable encounter) as opposed to a conflict." The tributaries of this resistance run through Hortense Spillers' critique of the Freudian/Lacanian model of psychoanalysis; in Saidiya Hartman's formulation of the "after-life" of slavery; in Joy James' interrogation of Foucault's "elision of racial bias" in the genealogy of punishment; in Frank Wilderson's critique of civil society in neo-Gramscian scholarship; in Fred Moten's challenge to Homi Bhabha's notion of the third space; and Jared Sexton's chiding of Agamben for proposing that the project of political philosophy could be reconstructed through the figure of the refugee.  

We hope to extend debate on such objections and to probe the disruptive and antagonistic position of blackness more generally.  Any appeals to a normative liberal subject or enlightenment project are knocked off center by the arguments generated by the above body of work. Nevertheless, entire manuscripts, in fact entire disciplinary fields, are being produced without so much as a nod to the experiences of the black body as an organizing principle in such constructs.

In this issue we seek essays and artwork in a range of disciplinary fields and narrative styles — from the philosophical to the aesthetic to the personal — that engage the legacy of the black experience as well as the symbolic and corporeal alienation of the black subject.  Contributions need not specifically engage Deleuzian encounters with blackness, nor the black hole concept, however the organizing principle of this issue stems from the tension between established disciplinary theory and the destabilizing power of blackness as a point of departure for any number of critical investigations.  

We welcome creative submissions on the antagonisms produced by blackness as well as those that work within the boundaries of academic disciplines. Possible paper topics may engage but are by no means limited to developments and intersections with:

Please submit a 500 word abstract to DaltonAnthony Jones at by June 1, 2014. Final essays for those abstracts accepted for publication will be due September 1, 2014.

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Call for Papers: Rhizomes 30, CUTENESS!

Edited by Michael O'Rourke and Rachel Law. A special collaborative issue between Rhizomes and Hyperrhiz on "CUTENESS!" — cute as queer, cute as ugly, cute as monstrous, tumblr-cute &etc. Issue expected in Fall 2015; more details forthcoming.

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