Call for Articles: Diffractions Graduate Journal for the Study of Culture

Call for Articles

(Dis-)covering ciphers: objects, voices, bodies.

Deadline for submissions: October 31, 2018

To analyze the ways in which cultural objects acquire meaning can also be understood as looking at the technologies by which those objects have become enciphered. In this issue of Diffractions we aim to look at the concept of the cipher in its myriad ways of appearing, be they cultural, social, political, technological, linguistic or economic in nature.

To give an example of that last category, one merely needs to point towards Marx’s theory on the fetishization of commodities. There, the process through which the material existence of products of labor can become invisible behind their exchange value, is formulated as a process of hiding what is central to the object; its material existence and its use value. In other words, the Marxist theory of fetishization can be understood as the discovery of a cipher, the cipher of exchange value.

But the concept of the cipher travels easily, and can be situated in many locations. In Adriana Cavarero’s work on the voice, she considers the ways in which the bodily aspects that are associated with the vocal are often hidden behind its semiotic, linguistic, and signifying capacities. That is to say, speech functions as a cipher for the materiality of the vocal. The vocal needs to be deciphered.

But what is a cipher? And how to know if we are dealing with a cipher to begin with? The cipher raises questions. In technologico-linguistic terms, a cipher calls for a key. A password. A way to de-cipher what was first en-ciphered. Perhaps a text that appears as a cipher is a plain text after all. The cipher’s call is not always obvious. Ciphers can conceal their act of concealing; hide not only what they are hiding, but that they are hiding as well; steganography.

Ciphers cut. And, as Jacques Derrida writes, they produce an inside and an outside, insides and outsides.  In order to protect what is behind the cipher, the cipher has to function as a passageway, letting some through while excluding others. In order to be allowed to enter, something must already be known. The cipher marks the limits of something hidden. But some measure of knowledge is nevertheless presupposed. It marks the boundaries of a relationship. It conceals and shows at the same time. It covers and uncovers.

If, for someone like Marx, the material manifestation of any object precedes its encipherment, others might submit, instead, that the cipher operates as the occasion for materialization to first take place. Mediation comes first, and materializes the body, someone like Judith Butler would argue. Following such accounts of the performative nature of subjection, one may suggest that the very materiality of the body is a product of a process that relies on cultural, linguistic, affective, and discursive, ciphers. And if the cipher conditions processes of materialization and subjectivation, one can ask if there is anything that escapes its logic. Is there an excess of meaning that remains neither enciphered, nor decipherable? To trace that excess would be to situate the cipher more precisely. It would be an attempt to recognize ciphers where they are, and to isolate those places where they remain absent.


For the upcoming issue of Diffractions we would like to make the cipher speak. To allow it to be heard, perhaps against its will. To ask where the cipher begins, and what exceeds its limits. In doing so, we aim to connect the cipher to objects, to values, to voices, and to the body. Our goal is to investigate the ways in which these concepts can be made useful for the study of cultural objects. How objects of study might help us to make the cipher speak, and how the cipher might engage these objects in return.

We look forward to receiving proposals of 5.000 to 9.000 words (excluding bibliography) and a short bio of about 150 words by October 31st, 2018 to be submitted at our website:

Diffractions also accepts book reviews related to the issue’s topic. If you wish to write a book review, please contact us through the e-mail address below.

We aim to be as accessible as possible in our communication. Should you have any questions, remarks, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us through the following address:

CALL FOR PAPERS: VIII Graduate Conference in Culture Studies

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VIII Graduate Conference in Culture Studies

6–7 December 2018 | Universidade Católica Portuguesa – Lisbon


Call for Papers

We call for papers for the 8th Graduate Conference in Culture Studies. This edition will be on the theme of “Replacement and Replaceability in Contemporary Culture” and takes place in Lisbon on the 6th and 7th of December 2018. The conference is organized by The Lisbon Consortium in conjunction with the Research Centre for Communication and Culture at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa.

We aim to discuss the ways in which the concept of ‘replacement’ can be understood and productively used for the study of contemporary culture. Replacement has been one of the central concepts in the study of culture for quite some time, and, at the risk of overstating this claim, one could say that replacement is a concern in all fields of knowledge dealing with the study of culture today. It is, however, rarely the central focus in academic discussion and this event aims to contribute to a more detailed analysis of the uses, misuses, and usefulness of this particular concept for the study of cultural objects.

Hearing the words replacement and replaceability, one naturally wonders: Who or what is being replaced? Who is doing the replacing? What counts as replaceable? Is there a logic of replacement? What happens when bodies are deemed replaceable for other bodies? Or for machines? How does replacement communicate with other, related, concepts, such as translation, repetition, reiteration, quotation, citation, metaphor, metonymy, synechdoche, and displacement? And how does it acquire meaning in connection to other concepts like false-consciousness, workforce, precariousness, simulacrum, spectacle, and ideology? How can replacement or replaceability be made useful for the study of cultural objects? Which objects warrant their use? It is on these and related questions that we invite abstracts to be presented at our conference.


Ideas for proposals

-Replacement, technology and labor.

– Replacement and the body.

– Replacement and disability.

Replacement and the queer body.

Replacement and colonialism.

Replacement and representation.

Replacement and translation.

Replacement and biopower.

Replacement and the digital.

Replacement by AI.

Replacement and recognition.

Replacement and knowledge production.

Replacement and simulacrum.

Replacement and death.

Replacement and the archive.

– Replacement and documentat


Theoretical understandings of power tend to highlight the importance of controlled reproduction of human beings, or subjects, in order for power to function. One may think of a wide-ranging number of theorists here, from Karl Marx, through Louis Althusser, and on to Michel Foucault. In the study of bureaucratic modes of power exertion, documents can function as the irreplaceable expression of an identity or a right, as in the cases of identity cards, passports, and diplomas.

In translation studies, the notion of translation as a specific act of replacement is of central concern. In media theory and the study of visual culture, the notion of representation can be understood as a moment in which the image replaces the ‘original.’ In literary studies, concepts such as metaphor and metonymy are examples of replacing one word for another, a procedure considered essential to the production of meaning through language.

In Lacanian psychoanalysis, the mirror-stage functions as a scene in which the physical body is temporarily replaced by an imaginary double. Feminist- and queer theorists have often critiqued heterosexist and heteronormative approaches to otherness as failed, or attempted copies of heterosexual male life. In posthumanist discourses, the very notion of the human undergoes a moment of replacement by some kind of being that is no longer fully human and all too often celebrated as beyond the human in a teleological way. And post- and de-colonial theorists have read colonial activities of ‘Western powers’ as forced replacements of one culture for another.


We invite proposals for contributions in the form of 20-minute presentations in which replacement or replaceability are used either as concepts of analysis, put into dialogue with a cultural object, or in which the concepts themselves come under theoretical scrutiny.

Proposals should be no longer than 250 words and have to be sent to no later than June 15th 2018.

Your abstract will be peer reviewed and you will receive notification of acceptance as soon as possible thereafter, but no later than the end of July 2018.

Upon acceptance you will be requested to register and provide some personal details to finalize your registration.

The conference will be a two-day event, taking place at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. It is scheduled to take place on the 6th and 7th of December 2018.


Registration fee

The Registration Fee is €50,00 (this includes lunch, coffee breaks and conference materials).

For The Lisbon Consortium students and members of CECC, there is no registration fee.

Organizing Committee

Sara Magno, Jad Khairallah & Ilios Willemars


For more information, updates and details, see

Parques de Sintra: call for artists for photography exhibition


Parques de Sintra Monte da Lua, one of the partners of the Lisbon Consortium, will promote a collective photography exhibition between May 5 and June 3, 2018, under the title “Significação. Outras Imagens do Jardim”. Artists are invited to submit their competition proposals, following the regulations that can be found here.

In the call for artists, we can read:

“Using the gardens, parks and hunting grounds that are under Parques de Sintra’s management as a working place, this show intends to promote a fresh look over the historical heritage, stimulating and supporting the artistic contemporary production and its fruitions by diverse audiences.”


“Risk and Crisis Communication in the Digital Age”: Call for papers

“Risk and Crisis Communication in the Digital Age”

Universidade Católica Portuguesa, 19 – 21 October 2017

Crisis Communication research emerged as a response to the need of conceiving emergency plans to deal with events that have a negative effect on stakeholders’ perception of organizations. However, researchers soon demonstrated that crisis communication is more than a reaction, and it should be perceived as a strategic tool to plan organizational life. The absence of a strategic crisis management thinking and discourse, besides posing a risk to organizations also limits response to societal challenges such as natural disasters, terrorist attacks and wars. In addition to this, the Digital Age poses new risks to the typical planning methods, while making available new sorts of tools that can be used to plan, implement and evaluate crisis management.
Departing from this context, the 5th International Crisis Communication Conference aims to discuss how crisis communication can be used by business and the public sector in a strategic fashion. Which theories and case studies can help better plan and implement crisis communication plans? How do organizations learn from the past, i.e. how do they evaluate previous crisis and order to be better prepared for the future? How did the digital challenge traditional strategies of crisis communication? Which sorts of new risks are brought by digital media and how can one learn from previous online crisis? Are corporate and non-corporate organizations ready to face online crisis communication?
While seeking answer for these questions, the conference will deepen and extend the exchange of ideas and approaches across disciplines and between Crisis Communication theories and researches.

  • To examine the role and practices of communication professionals in relation to internal and external aspects of crisis communication,
  • To reflect about and to expose new roles and practices of strategic approaches to internal and external crisis communication,
  • To contribute to knowledge development about crisis communication cases of public and nongovernmental organizations,
  • To discuss and reflect about crisis communication theories and research,
  • To present case studies based on empirical material,
  • To clarify the importance of a strategic crisis communication plan.

The conference includes a panel for corporate discussion and cases presentation, which will contribute to the industry crisis management debate. The conference will also include Young Scholars activities – YECREA.

Submissions should deal with one of the following sub-themes:

  • Corporate Crisis Communication;
  • External Crisis Communication;
  • Internal Crisis Communication;
  • Non-Corporate Crisis Communication;
  • Public and Nongovernmental Organizations Crisis Communication;
  • Integrated Communication;
  • Crisis Communication Management;
  • New Media Crisis Communication;
  • Strategic Crisis Communication Management;
  • Media/Journalism (crisis reporting).

Presentation proposals in English language are to be submitted as meaningful extended abstracts (max. 500 words, references excluded). Abstracts should state the title of the presentation, purpose, theoretical approach, methodology, (expected) findings, implications, relevance, and originality of the study. Include contact information for all authors (name, organization, address, email address and phone). Abstracts must be presented in Word format, in 1.5 line spacing and 12 point Times New Roman font size.

Deadline for submissions
The deadline for submissions is April 17, 2017. Please send the abstract to: Notifications of acceptance will be sent by e-mail by June 9, 2017.

The Registration Fees are:

  • 70€ lunch and coffee-breaks included;
  • 95€ Conference dinner included;
  • 35€ non-presenting.

Keynote speakers
Professor W. Timothy Coombs – Texas A&M University (confirmed)
More to be announced soon
Organizing Committee
Professor Carla Ganito
Professor Nelson Ribeiro
Professor Maria Inês Romba

The 5th International Crisis Communication Conference will take place at Universidade Católica Portuguesa, in Lisbon (Portugal), on October 19 – 21. The conference is organized by the ECREA Crisis Communication Section, and hosted by the Research Centre for Communication and Culture (CECC), Universidade Católica Portuguesa (UCP).





Call for papers: VII Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture on Global Translations

VII Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture

Global Translations

Lisbon, June 26 – July 1, 2017

Deadline for submissions: January 30, 2017

Translation is a concept, and a practice, at the heart of contemporary experience. The legacies of the past, along with modern-day technology and worldviews, have allowed for, indeed have invited, the coming together of multiple identities, through various languages and a plurality of cultures. Nowadays, translation inhabits the world in new and irrevocably radical ways, and any definition of globalization – hegemonic, utopian or imaginary – must involve translation.

Etymologically meaning ‘the activity of carrying across’ (Tymockzo, 1999: 20), translation may be the actual epitome of the global world, particularly if one accepts the broadest definition of ‘globalization’, i.e., that ‘“globalization” refers to the processes by which more people across large distances become connected in more and different ways’ (Lechner and Boli, 2012: 1) – a ‘global village’ needs translation, and translation is, of course, never innocent, as linguistic translation can help imposing hegemony or promoting resistance. Thus, translation, or the rejection of it, has been used as a political tool in every meeting of others, be it in the colonial past or in the post-colonial or neo-colonial present.

Translation has always meant, to a greater or smaller extent, displacement, and is never a one-way process and always involves beings as well as goods-in-transit. This translatedness of people and things, either voluntary or forced, has come to change the world, in practical as well as conceptual terms. The 21st century may well prove to be the age of migration, with millions – of people, goods, ideas, dollars – getting translated every day. These are Appadurai’s ‘objects in motion’ (2001) in ‘a world in flows’ (1996). Reinforced by long-distance technology (media, transports, etc.) and overreaching hegemonies, translation becomes a metaphor for modern-day experience, and a practical and a conceptual tool to better negotiate the world around.

To understand how cultural phenomena are affected and shaped by translation is, therefore, a task for culture studies, as the recent ‘translation turn’ may attest (Bassnett, 1990; Bachmann-Medick, 2009). This turn in culture studies testifies to the crucial impact of ‘difference’ – be it in the sense of Paul Gilroy’s convivial cosmopolitan worldview (2004) or the rather more pessimistic take of Zygmunt Bauman’s ‘liquidity’ (1998, 2011) or of Appiah’s interrogative musings (2006) – has on the imaginings of culture, on cultural performativity, on the ability to negotiate meanings, values, beliefs and practices and potentially raising what be called ‘cosmopolitan empathy’ (Beck, 2006). ‘Cosmopolitanization’ as a process which ‘comprises the development of multiple loyalties as well as the increase in the diverse transnational forms of life’ (Beck, 2006: 9) must be inhabited by translation in a radically intimate way – a translation that is both an act of love and disruption, and that begins at home with oneself. As Emily Apter put it, ‘[c]ast as an act of love, and an act of disruption, translation becomes a means of repositioning the subject in the world and in history; a means of rendering self-knowledge foreign to itself; a way of denaturalizing citizens, taking them out of the comfort zone of national space, daily ritual, and pre-given domestic arrangements’ (2006: 6). Seen as such, every form of translation begins with self-translation.
The Summer School invites proposals by doctoral students and post-docs that address, though may not be not be strictly limited to, the topics below:

• The globalization of art and art markets
• The monolingualization of economics and economic practices
• Migration as translation
• Cultural mediation and negotiation
• Fear and the absence of translation
• The invention of the ‘other’ in and through translation
• Translating ideas, methods, policies across the world
• (Un)Translatability and the rise of demotic media and politics
• (Translated) Identities in the global world
• Nationalism and the global village
• Self-translation and critical thinking in the global world
• Cosmopolitanism, cosmopolitanization, and globalization


Confirmed Keynote Speakers

  • Michael Cronin (Dublin City University)
  • Sandra Bermann (Princeton University)
  • Alexandra Lopes (Universidade Católica Portuguesa)
  • Uwe Wirth (Justus-Liebig University)
  • Rui Carvalho Homem (Universidade do Porto)
  • Loredana Polezzi (Cardiff University)
  • Aamir Mufti (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Hanif Kureishi (British writer and filmmaker)

Master Classes

  • Alison Ribeiro de Menezes (University of Warwick)
  • Knut Ove Eliassen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology)
  • Adriana Martins (Universidade Católica Portuguesa)


The Summer School will take place at several cultural institutions in Lisbon and will gather outstanding doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers from around the world. In the morning there will be lectures and master classes by invited keynote speakers. In the afternoon there will be paper presentations by doctoral students.

Paper proposals
Proposals should be sent to no later than January 30, 2017 and include paper title, abstract in English (200 words), name, e-mail address, institutional affiliation and a brief bio (max. 100 words) mentioning ongoing research.
Applicants will be informed of the result of their submissions in the beggining of March. 

Rules for presentation
The organizing committee shall place presenters in small groups according to the research focus of their papers. They are advised to stay in these groups for the duration of the Summer School, so a structured exchange of ideas may be developed to its full potential.

Full papers submission
Presenters are required to send in full papers by May 30, 2017.

The papers will then be circulated amongst the members of each research group and in the slot allotted to each participant (30’), only 10’ may be used for a brief summary of the research piece. The Summer School is a place of networked exchange of ideas and organizers wish to have as much time as possible for a structured discussion between participants. Ideally, in each slot, 10’ will be used for presentation, and 20’ for discussion.

Registration fees
Participants with paper – 265€ for the entire week (includes lectures, master classes, doctoral sessions, lunches and closing dinner)
Participants without paper – €50 per session/day | 165€ for the entire week (lectures and master classes only)

Fee exemptions
For The Lisbon Consortium students, the students from Universities affiliated with the European Summer School in Cultural Studies and members of the Excellence Network in Cultural Studies there is no registration fee.

Organizing Committee
• Isabel Capeloa Gil
• Peter Hanenberg
• Alexandra Lopes
• Paulo de Campos Pinto
• Diana Gonçalves
• Clara Caldeira

The Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture is an annual meeting organized by the Lisbon Consortium, a collaborative research network between the Master and PhD programs in Culture Studies at Universidade Católica Portuguesa and the main cultural institutions in Lisbon.

The MA in Culture Studies is ranked no. 3 in the world by the Eduniversal Best Masters Ranking in Arts Management.

For further information, please contact us through