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Re-visioning the Future: Modernity between Utopia and Dystopia  


Call for Papers

International Social Theory Consortium (ISTC)
MARCH 20, 2009
Since the 1980s, social theorists have become increasingly reluctant to relate constructively to the future of western societies, modern democracy, and human civilization. Both in the social sciences and the humanities, postmodernist critics highlighted the affinity between utopianism and forms of totalitarianism. As a consequence, social theorists refrained from recognizing as part of their unique responsibility efforts to refine existing and to delineate new perspectives on the future. Social Theorists began to pay focused attention to problematic patterns of thought that need to be overcome, in order to reduce the odds that the kind of socially, politically and economically induced catastrophes that influenced the direction of historical change during the twentieth century will recur—both directly and indirectly, positively and negatively.  Yet whether we appreciate it or not, in the context of globalization, the imminence of change has pushed itself aggressively to the forefront of social-theoretical concerns. The inevitability of change is inescapable, and its centrality to modern civilization undeniable. Concordantly, the imperative to engage in informed and critically reflexive discourses about the kind of world we will, should, or might live in, continues to increase rapidly. The conference will serve to facilitate interdisciplinary exchange relating to the continuing challenge of capturing the warped nature of modernity at the intersection of the past and the future and of utopia and dystopia.



Harry F. Dahms (Sociology)
Steven P. Dandaneau (Sociology)
Allen R. Dunn (English and Religion)

Papers accepted for inclusion in the program will be considered for publication in Current Perspectives in Social Theory (ed. Harry F. Dahms) or Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal (ed. Allen R. Dunn).

The organizers welcome proposals on any topic in social theory, and request submission of abstracts (between 150-250 words), 5-page outlines, papers, or proposals for sessions. Papers will receive preferred consideration.  For a list of conference theme-related topics, submission deadline, and registration fees, see the full call below:

The conference will be hosted by the University of Tennessee, in Knoxville, May 21-23 of 2009.  It is the 8th annual conference of the International Social Theory Consortium. Recent meetings have taken place in Singapore, Dubrovnick, Lexington, KY, Toronto, Tampa and Sussex. The submission deadline for proposals is March 20, 2009.


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