CFP: DePaul Philosophy Graduate Conference 2021

Submission deadline: October 18, 2020

Conference date(s):
February 19, 2021 - February 20, 2021

Go to the conference's page

Conference Venue:

Philosophy Department, DePaul University
Chicago, United States

Topic areas


We invite graduate students to submit on the topic of fragmentation, construed in a broad sense.

The history of philosophy is rife with attempts to theorize the relation between parts and wholes. From Plato and the Scholastics to Leibniz and Hegel, thinkers have often sought to grasp apparent manifolds as, in truth, unified wholes composed of well-ordered parts. But such projects have persistently been troubled by the figure of the fragment—the part that cannot or will not be integrated into a whole. Indeed, since at least the nineteenth century and the work of authors like the German Romantics, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, the fragment has seemed to pose a challenge to the very possibility of order, structure, and system. The continuing relevance of philosophers like Heidegger and Deleuze, and of movements like poststructuralism and the Frankfurt School, testifies to the ongoing significance of the problem of the fragment. Nor do we forget that Fanon’s corporeal schema was in “fragments” in 1952—or that, in Irigaray’s words, woman is put “in the position of experiencing herself only fragmentarily.” 

Meanwhile, an explicitly politicized discourse of fragmentation is emerging today. On the one hand, “fragmentation” is precisely what contemporary advisors to statecraft fear: “An order with the leading global democracies ... and other important, order-producing partners at its core could be resilient against pressures from regional revisionist states, nonstate extremists, and other dangers. But if that core group fragments, the hope for a truly global order will be lost,” concludes the “Building a Sustainable International Order Project,” sponsored by the RAND Corporation in 2018. “Our present world is simultaneously moving toward the opposing dystopias of hypercentralization and endless fragmentation,” Francis Fukuyama insists in his most recent book. And if fragmentation poses a threat to a certain global order, there is a “neo-reactionary” tendency to affirm it. On the other hand, a very differently situated conception of fragmentation is found in Josep Rafanell i Orra’s 2018 Fragmenter le monde! The author of the foreword to that text suggests, contra any desire to impose fragmentation, that the upshot of ongoing perceptual fragmentation is an emergent capacity to sense not only “discontinuous realities” but also “subtle continuities” beneath illusory wholes. And more recently, Hong Kong philosopher Yuk Hui has begun a post-Lyotardian attempt to “elaborate a philosophy of fragmentation.” 

Hence, we ask: What is the relation between part, whole, and fragment? What is fragmentation, and what is a fragment? Which wholes have fragmented, are fragmenting, or could be made to fragment? Are the resulting fragments capable of being reintegrated into wholes? Ought they to be? What responses to fragmentation are possible? What resources do the philosophical tradition and contemporary philosophy provide, or fail to provide, for attempts to think through fragmentation? Or are fragmentation and fragment themselves limited notions, to which alternative concepts and discourses are to be preferred?

In this vein, we aim to gather philosophical approaches to the problem(s) of fragmentation which might otherwise be left disparate. We invite submissions on the topic of fragmentation from all areas of philosophical inquiry, including but not limited to: the history of philosophy, political philosophy, critical theory, critical race theory, decolonial philosophy, queer theory, feminist philosophy, philosophy of history, philosophy of science, ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, metaphysics, and ontology.


The conference will take place on February 19–20, 2021. A keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Frédéric Neyrat (University of Wisconsin–Madison). Papers will be assigned commentators. If you are interested in presenting a paper, please submit an abstract (max. 500 words) for a 30-minute presentation before or on October 18, 2020. Abstracts should be anonymized and sent as a PDF to In a separate PDF attachment, please include your name, paper title, academic affiliation, and email address. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance by November 1, 2020. Please send any questions or concerns to the conference email address already provided.

Note on COVID-19

We invite submissions in the hope of hosting an in-person conference this February. If this becomes impossible due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will contact prospective participants to communicate alternative arrangements.

Supporting material

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