The 11th International Conference in Critical Management Studies – “Precarious Presents, Open Futures”


The 11th International Conference in Critical Management Studies – “Precarious Presents, Open Futures”

Post by Sheena » Fri Jan 18, 2019 9:25 pm

The 11th International Conference in Critical Management Studies – “Precarious Presents, Open Futures”
The Open University, Milton Keynes, UK, 27th-29th June 2019

Sub-theme: Contending materialities and affective relations in work and organisation – Exploring the ethics and politics of new materialist thinking


Emma Bell, Open University, UK
Pikka-Maaria Laine, University of Lapland, Finland
Susan Meriläinen, University of Lapland, Finland
Sheena J. Vachhani, University of Bristol, UK

The starting point of ethics… [is] the recognition of human participation in a shared, vital materiality. We are vital materiality and we are surrounded by it, though we do not always see it that way. The ethical task at hand here is to cultivate the ability to discern nonhuman vitality, to become perceptually open to it. (Bennett, 2010, p.14, emphasis in original)

In this subtheme we invite contributors to take up the challenge posed by new materialist thinkers to think and act as if matter mattered (Bennett, 2010), and to explore the ethical and political implications that arise from this engagement. We intend to bring together recent thinking on affect and organisations (Fotaki et al., 2017) with, as Bennett (2004, p.347) proposes,the importance of returning to ‘the vitality, wilfulness, and recalcitrance possessed by nonhuman entities and forces’. Affect has been defined as a body’s capacity, or power, to affect and be affected (Massumi, 2002) and the bodily intensities that arise from these encounters. Affect is understood asa visceral force, an automatic and non-reflective bodily response (Blackman & Venn, 2010) that is created between, and through, bodies which are both human and more-than-human (Gregg & Seigworth, 2010). These approaches draw attention to relationality andindeterminacy where objects and subjects are seen to be in a continuous process of becoming within webs of sociomaterial relations. Affect is continuously created between bodies – human and non-human – as a pre-reflexive sensation, intensity, energy, or pulse,providing an excess, which escapes the logic of cultural systems such as language.

‘Thing-power materialism is a speculative onto-story, a rather presumptuous attempt to depict the nonhumanity that flows around but also through humans’ (Bennett, 2004, p.349). In the contextof critical management studies, these perspectives open up the ethics and politics of organisations and enable us to explore differences, for example, between our sense of self and the social position that is marked for us. Butler (1997) emphasizes the working of power within our intersubjective relations and highlights howsubjects come into existence through passionate attachment to their own subordination. Affect can thus be a source of knowledge about unequal power relations between people, providing a source of dissonance that can drive us towards change (Hemmings, 2012).Hence, although affect is socially conditioned, it holds promise to unsettle us into new states of being and thus provides capacity for destabilizing normative practices (Hemmings, 2012; Pullen, Rhodes & Thanem, 2017; Vachhani and Pullen, 2018).

This sub-theme invites submissions that explore the potential of affect theory and new materialism to generate new insights into our ‘precarious presents’ and possibilities for transformation in organisations. We also encouragecontributors to consider how dominant social orders can be challenged and changed through affect and materiality into more ‘open futures’. We invite contributions including but not limited to the following themes:

Thing-power and materialities in organisational life
Object-orientated ideas of transforming organisations
Affective thinking that enables compassionate and ethical relations
New materialism and reconstructing relations of domination and subordination
Ordinary affects in various spheres of work and life
Sociomaterial practices of organizing that open up possibilities for rethinking ethics and politics in organisations
Co-existence and becoming in an era of vast differences created by climate change, misogyny, Trump and Brexit, for example.

Submission details:

Please send abstracts or any questions to convenors via: Emma Bell,
Abstracts should be a maximum of 500 words, A4 paper, single spaced, 12 point font.
Abstract submission deadline: January 31st 2019
Notification of paper acceptance: 28th February 2019
Conference website:


Bennett, J. (2004). The force of things: Steps toward an ecology of matter. Political Theory, 32(3), 347-372.
Bennett, J. (2010) Vibrant Matter. Durham: Duke University Press.
Blackman, L. & Venn, C. (2010) Affect, Body & Society, 16(1), 7-28.
Butler, J. (1997) The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection. London: Routledge.

Fotaki, M., Kenny, K. & Vachhani, S.J. (2017) Thinking critically about affect in Organisation Studies: Why it matters. Organization, 24(1), 3-17.
Gregg, M. and Seigworth, G. J. (2010) (eds) The Affect Theory Reader, 1–28. London: Duke University Press.

Hemmings, C. (2012) Affective solidarity: Feminist reflexivity and political transformation, Feminist Theory, 13(2), 147–161.
Massumi, B. (2002) Parables for the Virtual: Movement, Affect, Sensation. London, UK: Duke University Press.
Pullen, A., Rhodes, C. & Thanem, T. (2017) Affective Politics in Gendered Organizations: Affirmative Notes on Becoming-Woman, Organization, 24(1), 105–123.

Vachhani, S.J. and Pullen, A. (2018) Ethics, politics and feminist organizing: Writing feminist infrapolitics and affective solidarity into everyday sexism, Human Relations, 72(1) 23–47.