Call For Papers: 2022 British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference – Phenomenology, Disability and Technology

Location: University of Exeter, UK, in-person and virtual (hybrid)
Date: Tuesday 30 August – Thursday 1 September 2022
CFP deadline: Thursday 31 March 2022 (midnight UK).

The “Phenomenology, Disability and Technology” Call for Papers invites abstracts to be considered for a special panel for the 2022 British Society for Phenomenology Annual Conference on the theme of Engaged Phenomenology II. 

This panel is sponsored by the Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures (itDf) Project and the aim of the panel is to encourage an engaged phenomenological approach to disability, which considers how disability and embodiment is experienced in relation to a wide range of technologies that may shape, enhance or modify aspects of disabled lived experience.

The classical phenomenology of Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Heidegger or Sartre tends to bolster a relatively robust distinction between modes of thought, embodiment and action that are normal and abnormal, pathological and healthy, and disabled and non-disabled. The ‘abnormal’ modes are often called upon to illuminate the tacit structures of so-called ‘normal’ experience which might otherwise be taken for granted. Nevertheless, these early phenomenological descriptions of embodiment and being-in-the-world also imply understandings of the body and self as open and relationally constituted, and agency as something achieved with technology beyond the boundaries of the skin – consider Merleau-Ponty’s account of the blind man incorporating his cane into his body schema. The phenomenological openness and malleability of the lived body, along with its inherent relationality to its lived environment, have significant ramifications for ideas of normalcy, ability and disability. 

Contemporary phenomenology has an enduring interest in themes pertinent to considering the lived experience of disability, such as embodiment, normalcy, health and illness, and the use, or incorporation, of technology into the lived body. For instance, Don Ihde posits a postphenomenology to encapsulate that our embodied perception and action are overwhelmingly, and constitutively, technological. However, contemporary feminist and critical phenomenologists such as Sara Ahmed, Joel Michael Reynolds, Margit Shildrick, Gail Weiss, Andrea Pitts, Corinne Lajoie, Kim Q. Hall and Christine Wieseler, amongst others, have also reflected critically on phenomenology’s ideas of normalcy, normativity, and its use of disability as a tool for illuminating taken-for-granted structures of nondisabled experience. 

Works spanning prosthesis use, cognitive disability, chronic illness or reflections on gender and race, not only explore possibilities of using phenomenology to understand experiences of disability and technology use, or the structural discrimination of certain body-subjects; additionally, increased attention to disability can re-shape and advance phenomenological perspectives on embodiment, being, and action. As new technological developments in prostheses, computing, robotics, smart drugs, implants, exoskeletons, among others, are shifting the landscape of disability futures, and with a growing sense that human life in a broad sense has always been technological, the aim of the “Phenomenology, Disability and Technology” Special Panel is to further extend work in contemporary phenomenology, and explore themes relevant to disability and technology through an engaged phenomenological framework. 

Submitting Abstracts:

For the “Phenomenology, Disability and Technology” Special Panel we welcome abstracts from multiple perspectives, from practitioners and philosophers (including both the European / Continental and Anglo-American / Analytic traditions), and from postgraduate researchers. Topics that might be considered include, but are not limited to:

  • Access and belonging
  • Disability and telepresence
  • Online sociality and online learning
  • Embodiment and technology
  • Incorporation
  • Experience of prosthetic technologies
  • Disability and assistive robots
  • Disability and (online) activism
  • Technology and co-design
  • Use of disability technology (decorating, ‘tinkering’)
  • Disability and intersectionality
  • The future of disability technology
  • Crip phenomenology and cripping technologies
  • Queerness, sexuality and the disabled bodymind
  • 4E/Enactive approaches to disability
  • Critical phenomenological approaches to disability

To submit an abstract, please use the BSP Conference Online Abstract Submission System and select the option: “Submit single paper to special panel: Phenomenology, Disability and Technology (itDf Project)”

Selection process:

  • The deadline for the submission of abstracts is Thursday 31 March 2022 (midnight UK).
  • Abstracts will be blind peer reviewed by members of the BSP conference committee from the BSP and University of Exeter.
  • Each year, we receive more abstracts of quality than for which we are able to provide space. From the shortlist, the review team selects what they believe to be the best of these for presentation during the event, with an eye to the aims and objectives of the conference, the society and its co-organisers.
  • We intend to inform participants if they have been successful on or around Saturday 30 April 2022. Due to the quantity of abstract submissions, while we notify everyone on the outcome of their submission, we do not supply individual feedback on those which are unsuccessful.