What We Talk About When We Talk About Crisis: Social, Environmental, Institutional


Date & time

Thu 05 Dec 2019, 9am – Fri 06 Dec 2019, 5pm


Humanities Research Centre, Sir Roland Wilson Building, Australian National University

ANU Humanities Research Centre Annual Conference

What We Talk About When We Talk About Crisis: Social, Environmental, Institutional

5 - 6 Dec 2019

The Australian National University
Canberra, Australia

“Crisis” is a recurring topic of fascination. Our era is characterised by a perpetual state of crisis: violent social unrest, natural and anthropogenic disasters, and systematic failures of the institutions that influence our individual and collective lives.

Despite the growing currency of crisis, the humanities has intellectually grappled with ideas of crisis for centuries; with practices of critique and dissent, as well as seeking to understand past crises which, in retrospect, are part of a “generative” process.
Now, it seems, the humanities itself is in a state of crisis.



Call for papers

We invite proposals for papers and panels that will respond in diverse and interdisciplinary ways to the idea of crisis: social, environmental, institutional, and otherwise, including addressing the interconnected themes listed below. We also invite contributions that seek to explore the idea of the “public humanities”—what is it, and how can the humanities contribute to making the world a place we want to live in, particularly in a time of crisis?

  • Cultural: What do we talk about when we talk about crisis? What role do the media and creative arts have in generating, representing, and perpetuating crisis?
  • Theoretical:  How are we to understand or frame intellectual, moral, and epistemological crises? How can interventions in the arts and humanities contribute at times of crisis and trauma?
  • Institutional: How do institutions of public trust (governments, universities, media, churches, museums, etc.) experience, perpetuate, represent, or moderate crisis?
  • Environmental: How does the humanities intersect with the climate and the environment? How have writers, artists, and the culture industry intervened in environmental crises of the past or the present?
  • Political: How have activists used protest or other forms of dissent to create or respond to crisis, to challenge or reproduce inequality and intolerance? 
  • Historical: What, if anything, differentiates current experiences from prior experiences of crisis? How have past crises been documented, analysed, collected, or commemorated?
  • Disciplinary: What does it mean to say the humanities are in a state of crisis?


Deadline for proposals is 15 August 2019.

Please send proposals – including a title, 250-word abstract, and 100 word author biography – to Dr Ibrahim Abraham at ibrahim.abraham@anu.edu.au
Proposals will be reviewed and applicants will be informed of the outcome within two weeks of the submission deadline so that we can finalise the program.
For further information and updates, as well as information about the Humanities Research Centre’s annual theme for 2019, Crisis, see: http://hrc.cass.anu.edu.au/research/annual-themes

Registration fees

  • General registration: $100.00
  • Concessional registration: $60.00

Registrations are now closed.


Confirmed keynote speakers include:

Inaugural HRC Distinguished Lecturer — Professor Sara Ahmed
“Behind Closed Doors: Complaints and Institutional Violence”
Conference Keynote Lecturer — Professor Ghassan Hage
“Exacerbating the Racial Crisis: A Modest Contribution”


Humanities Research Centre


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Updated:  4 December 2019/Responsible Officer:  Head, Centre/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications