Genealogy of Normalcy and Experienced Ambiguity

April 20, 2023 - April 21, 2023
Faculty of History and Philosophy, University of Latvia


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We welcome abstract submissions and presentations about ambiguity in the context of feminist philosophy, exploring how social concepts (such as gender norms, race, or sex) are affected by genealogies of knowledge and the body, as well as lived spaces, the environment, and culture. Also participants without presentations are welcomed!


Normality and ambiguity appear to be opposing concepts. Nevertheless, it becomes clear that what is considered a norm and normal is subject to change when concepts, theories, or even individual opinions or beliefs are contrasted with the notion of norms and normalcy. As a result, the differences and experienced ambiguities become crucial for defining normalcy.

In the field of feminist philosophy, nevertheless, such cases are discussed in various studies regarding gender, sex, and race, where it has been observed that it affects both the lived-body and society as well as the formation of new normalities. It could be attributed to the idea of “throwing like a girl” (Iris Marion Young, 1980) and what it means to be expected to act a certain way, “being the embodied other” (Sarah Ahmed, 2000) and the question of being estranged based on already pre-existing notions of selfhood and belonging, or even talking about ambiguity as a necessity. For example, in The Ethics of Ambiguity Simone de Beauvoir pointed out “the notion of ambiguity must not be confused with that of absurdity. To declare that existence is absurd is to deny that it can ever be given a meaning; to say that it is ambiguous is to assert that its meaning I never fixed, that it must be constantly won.” (1964, 129)

Nevertheless, new explanations, stories, and narratives of the past are forming in response to various events happening now around the world; therefore, previously established genealogies are shifting, establishing new societal and individual understandings of normalcy. Capturing these transformations in the stories, narratives and experiences of the lived-body can help us to understand better how normalcy in various contexts has changed, how experienced ambiguity can help our understanding of the world and whether we should endeavour in societal changes.

The study circle provides a space for theoretical experimentation and the cross-fertilization of methodologies. It aims to develop insights that could be used in further research.

Participation in the seminar requires NSU membership (€0 - discount ; €10 - students and freelance researchers, €25 - for academic personnel and researchers). To join NSU, please visit: 

More detailed information about aditional on-site participation fee will follow, but it will not exceed 40€.

Travel and accommodation costs are covered by participants, however participants from Baltic and Nordic countries are eligible for reimbursements thanks to NordPlus grant.


Anne Sauka, University of Latvia Faculty of History and Philosohpy

Kitija Mirončuka, University of Latvia, Institute of Philosohpy and Sociology

Nicole des Bouvrie, Netherlands, freelance researcher

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February 10, 2023, 11:45pm +03:00

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