CFP: Philosophies of Incarceration & The Incarceration of Philosophy

Submission deadline: January 15, 2017

Conference date(s):
March 17, 2017 - March 18, 2017

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Philosophy Graduate Student Union, Villanova University
Villanova, United States






Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sarah K. Tyson

22nd Annual Philosophy Conference

Sponsored by the Philosophy Graduate Student Union

March 17–18 2017

Villanova University


Call For Papers

With 2.2 million people currently in national prisons or jails, the United States is the world leader in incarcerated populations. More than 60% of prisoners belong to racial or ethnic minorities. The rate of incarcerated women is increasing almost twice as quickly as that of men. Recognizing that incarceration has become one of the most pressing social issues of the 21st century, this conference aims to philosophically engage with issues of incarceration by bringing together scholars and activists from a variety of fields to explore the theme of “philosophies of incarceration,” broadly construed. As the subject of incarceration is inherently bound up with issues of race, gender, class, disability, and sexuality, we encourage approaches and analyses that engage with incarceration from an intersectional framework. In addition to examining various philosophical investigations of the phenomena of incarceration, this conference also challenges us to look at ways that the rigid requirements of the practice of philosophy itself often isolates, disciplines, and confines us. For this reason, we invite not only philosophers but also scholars from a wide variety of departments, mass incarceration professionals and activists, journalists, clergy, formally incarcerated persons, and currently incarcerated persons to propose panels, papers, and poster sessions.

Topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • Analyzing the impact of sexuality and gender on institutional policies, sentencing practices, and the incarcerated experience of trans persons.
  • Analyzing the impact of sexuality and gender on institutional policies, sentencing practices, and the incarcerated experience of people of color.
  • Analyzing the impact of sexuality and gender on institutional policies, sentencing practices, and the incarcerated experience of women.
  • Exploring the ways in which the confinement of a body in a prison not only confines the body physically, but also on psychological, phenomenological, and ontological registers.
  • Analyzing the trope of the prisoner in contemporary culture, particularly within movies and television programs.
  • Investigating the impact of privatizing prisons and its higher rates of violence against the incarcerated.
  • Investigating the experience of political prisoners, not only within the United States, but also in a variety of other countries and cultural contexts.
  • The political economy of incarceration.
  • Technologies of incarceration.
  • Approaches to incarceration from the perspective of sociology, political theory, punishment theory, and critical prison studies.
  • Michel Foucault’s shifting view of the prison (particularly in light of the recently released lectures on The Punitive Society), and Gilles Deleuze’s notion of “control societies.”
  • Investigating ways in which the experience of incarceration has shaped the thoughts of the philosophical tradition. To explicate, we find many philosophers and writers coming to grips with their personal philosophies while trapped within physical prisons or when reflecting upon their time within the physical prison. Examples include: Socrates’ last words to his friends in the Crito and the Phaedo, Boethius’s Consolations, Rustichello de Pisa’s Travels of Marco Polo, Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quijote de la Mancha, Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, O. Henry’s short stories, Nelson Mandela’s Conversations with Myself, Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham City Jail, EE Cummings’s The Enormous Room, Jean Genet’s Our Lady of the Flowers, and the respective autobiographies of Jack Henry Abbott, Lena Constante, Angela Davis, Assata Shakur, Susan Rosenburg, Jacobo Timerman, and Mumia Abu-Jamal. How does the material, lived-context of the prison experience alter their respective philosophies? And how do their respective philosophies change the way that we view the material, lived-context of the prison?
  • Marxist and post-Marxist perspectives on incarceration.


We encourage submissions from traditionally underrepresented groups


We welcome full paper submissions (maximum 3,000 words), as well as extended abstracts (minimum 500 words). For panel proposals, please include an extended abstract of the panel in general, as well as an extended abstract for each paper in the panel. Please ensure all submissions are prepared for anonymous review.

Deadline for submissions: January 15, 2017 

Please e-mail submissions to:

Or, mail submissions to:

Miranda Pilipchuk

Department of Philosophy

Villanova University, SAC 108

800 Lancaster Avenue

Villanova, PA 19085 

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