Diffractions is an online, peer reviewed and open access graduate journal for the study of culture. The journal is published bi-annually under the editorial direction of graduate students in the doctoral program in Culture Studies at The Lisbon Consortium – Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

After a short hiatus, Diffractions returns with this second series. If you are interested in the first series of Diffractions, which is discontinued, you can visit the old website at diffractions.net. From now on, all information on Diffractions can be found here. The old website will no longer be updated.

Check our Call for Papers section to find out about our next issue.

Find us online at https://diffractions.fch.lisboa.ucp.pt/Series2


Call for Papers

DIFFRACTIONS – Graduate Journal for the Study of Culture


(NEW) Deadline for submissions: July 31, 2018

Are we trapped in suspicion? This issue of Diffractions – Graduate Journal for the Study of Culture intends to open a discussion around the deep and pervasive sense of suspicion that has been planted in our society from its inception alongside claims for veracity, truth, surveillance, detection, semblance, expectation, risk, guesswork, discrimination, etc.. Paul Ricoeur already used the notion of suspicion to capture a common spirit that pervades the writings of Marx, Freud and Nietzsche. In spite of their obvious differences, he argues these thinkers jointly constitute a “school of suspicion”, sharing a commitment to unmasking “the lies and illusions of consciousness”. They create a distinctive modern style of interpretation that avoids classic categorizations or self-evident meaning in order to draw out less visible and less satisfying truths. Ricouer’s “hermeneutics of suspicion” had a great impact on literary studies, linking it to a larger history of suspicious interpretation, whereas more recently, in her book “The Limits of Critique”, Rita Felski highlights the difference between critique and suspicion, arguing in favour of the “unreliability of signs that secures the permanence of suspicion” (2015, 36).

Suspicion is said to lead truth into crisis. But what is truth and who are the truth-tellers of our days? We have learned to be suspicious of the tendency to transform fact into opinion and of the blurry line that divides them. In visual culture, the realist access to the world, the ability to provide persuasive evidence, the possibility of indisputable proof, and the indexical bond between an image and what it represents, are notions that have come under suspicion. Some critique of representation was driven by the suspicion that there must be something ugly and terrifying behind the surface of the conventional idealized image. Ariella Azoulay called our attention to the “ritualistic dimension” of constantly having to reveal the existence of convention, changing the act of storytelling into a “critical position” of suspicion of any photographic image. If our worst suspicion is confirmed, and the hidden reality behind the image is shown to us, has our critical journey come to an end? While a suspicious reading may be helpful for critical analysis as a method, this is not to say that any suspicious reading is a good reading. Suspicion may also be cause for conspiracy theories that fail to bear witness to their objects of analysis.

Suspicion can be read, on the one hand, as a modality of thinking the other as dangerous, suspicious, almost, or most probably, guilty. This mode of thinking suspicion means to turn it into an obstacle for change to come about, a mode of always already determining what the risks are, a mode of thinking that opens onto a logic of pre-emptive violence when taken to its limit. On the other hand, suspicion can allow for otherness as a site where something might occur, could happen, is as-of-yet undetermined. The latter is a prerequisite for change to come about, or rupture to take place.

For this issue, we invite articles that question the usefulness of the concept of suspicion for the study of cultural objects. We also welcome work that considers how these cultural objects may scrutinize the very notion of suspicion.

Contributions and original research might address but are not limited to the following topics:

  • History and archaeology of suspicion
  • Cultural representations of suspicion
  • Suspicion and visual culture
  • Suspicion and art
  • Suspicion and politics
  • Suspicion and media
  • Suspicion and conflict
  • Suspicion and identity
  • Suspicion and modes of reading
  • Suspicious bodies
  • Suspicion and critical thinking
  • Suspicion, paranoia and theories of conspiracy
  • Suspicion producing machines

We look forward to receiving proposals of 5.000 to 9.000 words (not including bibliography) and a short bio of about 150 words by July 31, 2018 at the following address: info.diffractions@gmail.com

DIFRRACTIONS also accepts book reviews related to the issue’s topic. If you wish to write a book review, please contact us.


Editorial Team
Ilios Willemars
Sara Magno
Vera Herold
Sónia Pereira
Ekaterina Smirnova
Sophie Pinto