CFP: Panel Talk: Agency and Representation

Submission deadline: April 8, 2019

Topic areas


Call for Papers for the Panel: Agency and Representation

As part of the 2019 SEP-FEP Joint Annual Conference

Panel Chairs: Élaina Gauthier-Mamaril and Anthony James Zirpoli

Location: Royal Holloway, University of London

Dates: 27th-29th August 2019

Deadline: 8th April 2019

Panel Description:

The concepts of agency and representation have often been closely linked, often times even being collapsed into one another. Politically, our current system of political decision-making in Liberal Democratic countries is often built upon the equivalence of these two concepts: democratic representation, procured through voting, is the current form of political agency. Economically, the way we spend money is viewed as the agency we have over the market, which is then represented by the trends and flows of the economy, and conversely, one of the fundamental Marxist critiques of Market Capitalism is that this link is not, in fact, played out appropriately. Representation in the media is often depicted as, or at least informs, a type of social and political agency, particularly for marginalized groups. Representation in the medical decision-making process is commonly formulated as a type of agency within the medical field. Historical representation of marginalized peoples and groups is often interpreted as a means to reclaim a type of agency. Protests and resistance is commonly interpreted as a form of agency, informing or pushing through representation of those groups’ interests. In other words, the question of representation and agency is intimately linked in any number of fields and schools of thought, from Feminism and Post-Colonial Theory, to Liberal Democratic Theory and Representational Democracy, from medical decision-making to media representation, from historical analysis to sociology.

Yet, is this link justified? Is representation the only way to fully understand agency, or have we curtailed both concepts by demanding this link? If not, what does it mean for representation to be so closely linked to agency, and is representation the only route to true agency?

This panel aims to explore these themes and questions. We hope to understand and put forward a critique of the link between agency and representation, examining the underlying justification for this connection, the many contexts in which such a connection operates, and the repercussions of this connection.

This panel welcomes papers on and from any area of study in which the relationship of agency and representation is important, both historical and contemporary, and aims to offer a wide range of views on this topic.

Some suggested topics for the panel:

·         Agency and Representation in History

·         The Agency of Identity Politics as Representation

·         Classical Theories of Political Agency and Representation (Hobbest, Spinoza, Locke, etc.)

·         Contemporary Views on Representation in the Media and Agency (Butler, Badiou, Arendt, hooks, Spivak, etc.)

·          Representation and Agency in Medical Decision Making

·         Post-Colonial Views on Representation as Human Rights and Agency as Self-Determination

·         Political Protest as a form of Agency and Representation

·         Representative Democracy and Political Agency

·         Agency and Representation in the age of Consumer Capitalism

·         Representation as a form of Feminist Political Agency

·         Representation, Agency, and Race

·         What do we Mean by Agency and Representation

For complete information before applying, see full detail of the conference at:

To apply, please submit a 250-300 word abstract of your paper, along with contact and institutional details, to:


Successful applicants will be contacted by April 10th to confirm availability for the conference.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)