CFP: The Acorn Journal Special Edition “On the Future of Nonviolence”

Submission deadline: August 1, 2022


The Acorn Journal Special Edition “On the Future of Nonviolence”

Call For Papers

This call for papers is for a Special Edition entitled “On the Future of Nonviolence” which focuses on Judith Butler’s recent book, The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind. Therein, Butler argues that psychosocial intersubjective geopolitical networks must become the locus for a political ethics of nonviolence aspiring to resist the psychic, discursive, and media causes of systemic destructiveness. Per Butler, this project requires rejecting liberal moral and political traditions which do not recognize the radical interdependency of the subject. Because the guiding normative commitment of nonviolence—the preservation of life—connects directly to the primal biological drive to life, it operates prior to the formation of the super-ego. In this way, from within the fraught constitutive social bond, the impulse to the preservation of my life could be educated to resist the dominant liberal ideal of independence—allowed by the breakages in interpellations afforded by mania—and thus recognize its radical biological interdependency. This allows for the choice to marshal our natural predilection to violence into an aggressive stance against war, destruction, supremacy, hatred, and violence, so as to usher from imagination into reality a radically egalitarian commitment to the equally incalculable value of all lives. Herein, Butler rejects the “habits of constructivism” arguing that critical theory must “grasp the issues of life and death” (198). Perhaps such a project requires an ontology of biological and geopolitical relational life taken as sufficiently beyond the partiality of social construction, and a final commitment to social psychoanalysis as the field beyond constructive reproach to ground it. The Force of Non-Violence could provoke something of a reckoning within the liberal and continental traditions to settle this debate.The edition is intended to focus on these issues with the following kinds of contributions:

1.     Critical responses to Judith Butler’s The Force of Nonviolence: An Ethico-Political Bind which regard is as an important contribution to the field of Peace and Non-Violence studies.

2.     Philosophical analyses of how racialized “phantasms” inform justifications of state and administrative violence, and how it can be contested.

3.     Philosophical analyses of the psychosocial dimension of violence in The Force of Nonviolence and beyond.

4.     Analysis of the role liberal enlightenment ideals play in The Force of Nonviolence and in 20th and 21st Century continental political philosophy.  

5.     Criticisms of violence as a necessary strategy for positive social and political change that accepts the near hegemony of structural violence.

6.     Philosophical analyses of Butler’s use of Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence” in The Force of Nonviolence.

7.     Philosophical critiques of the vision of non-violence as a “passive” practice that emanates from “calm” regions of the soul, or as an individualistic ethical choice.

8.     Philosophical analysis of Butler’s notion of “grievability” and the task of equalizing it.

9.     Philosophical analysis of Butler theory of the subject.

10.  Reviews of contemporary books/journal articles on violence and non-violence in the context of theory and practice aimed at justice and peace across the liberal and contemporary continental philosophical traditions.

11.  Philosophical reflections on the consequences for non-violence theory either for rejecting or upholding liberal theory of the subject especially independence and autonomy. (To what extent does the liberal tradition entail a non-relational self?)

12.  Philosophical reflections on overcoming the tensions between Foucault and Psychoanalysis operative in Butler’s book, in the context of theory and practice aimed at justice and peace.

13.  Philosophical reflections on overcoming tensions within Gandhian and Kingian nonviolence theory and Butler’s book in the context of theory and practice aimed at justice and peace.

14.  Philosophical reflections on overcoming the “habits of constructivism” for robust ethical and political theories aimed at justice, equality, and peace.

15.  Philosophical reflections on synthesizing features of the modern philosophical tradition with contemporary continental political theory in the context of theory and practice aimed at justice and peace.

This special edition of the Acorn will focus on the tension between liberal and contemporary continental political philosophical theories for establishing actionable theories of non-violence as drawn out in Butler’s book. It is the view of this edition that progressive nonviolence requires workable notions of individual freedom and individual rights which should be strengthened by being productively coupled with visions of the subject from contemporary continental political theory, especially those with roots in poststructuralism and psychoanalysis. 

As well as being published in The Acorn, those selected for submission will also be invited to form a panel “On The Future of Non-Violence” at the Concerned Philosophers for Peace 35th Annual Conference, to be held at the University of New Mexico, October 22-24, 2022. While this special edition does not have a publication date, the hope is to publish shortly before or shortly after the conference. For this reason, full papers (3000 – 5000 words) and reviews (2000-3000) need to be submitted to [email protected] Aug 1st 2022, to be considered for this special edition.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)