Dark Economies: Anxious Futures, Fearful Pasts — Falmouth University, UK. 21st-23rd July 2021
After the success of the Folk Horror in the Twenty First Century conference hosted by Falmouth University, we are holding another related conference in 2021.
We are aiming to have a face to face conference at the beautiful Falmouth Campus in Cornwall. With sub-tropical gardens and the beach nearby, there will be a ‘Welcome to Dark Falmouth’ cemetery walk above the lovely Swanpool lake, an art exhibition, a gig and street food in place of the more usual staid conference dinner. If we’re going to beat Covid we want to do it in style!*
The present is dark. With the rise of Covid-19, right-wing populism, global migrations and immigrations, continued violence, abuse and crime, prejudice and intolerance, there is increasing anxiety about the future. The Earth itself is under threat from environmental catastrophe and a mass extinction event is anticipated. The collapse of society, morality, and the environment was often also feared in the past, particularly in Gothic, horror and dystopian fictions and texts. What were the monsters of the past? What are our monsters now?
Anxieties and uncertainties abound in the age of the post-human and the post-digital. Ours is a world with the dark web and past and present dark economies. Yet, there is radicalism and light here too as boundaries are traversed, subverted and annihilated. Gender binaries are collapsing. The old patriarchal order is at least seriously under threat (if not yet quite dead) in the light of movements such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, Black Lives Matter and the LGTBQi wave of positivity. Capitalism is shaking and activism is reshaping the world.
This conference addresses these issues head on. By encouraging provocative, radical and respectful discussions, we aim to generate serious interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary engagements with scholars, practitioners, artists, and activists. The conference will look back to the past in its examination of how dark concerns and anxieties were envisioned, and to the future and the visionary imaginings of how things can be. The debates will range from the local to the global. While the conversations will be transnational, the setting for the conference will be Cornwall, UK. Historically associated with pirates, piskies, and general lawlessness, Cornwall is a Celtic fringe that literally hangs off the end of England. With sublime landscapes, surging seas and deep mines, Cornwall is made up of black granite and makes the perfect backdrop for a conference on dark economies.
The papers called for and selected will be asked to address some of the following issues:
- The climate emergency
- The destruction of the environment
- The politics and economies of fuel and energy
- Extinctions and annihilations
- Decadence and/or Degeneration
- Past fears of environmental changes (agricultural revolution and legal amendments) and their effects on the rural population
- Degeneration and moral disintegration
- The ‘monsters’ of the present and past, and their representations and responses in Horror and Gothic fictions and texts
- Crime and criminality throughout the ages
- The dark side of gender abuse and violence in the time of #MeToo and Incel rages
- Anxieties around the digital – the dark web, AI and the non-human
- Consideration of the post-human
- Slavery: modern and historical
- Issues of immigration and displacement
- Gendered fears
- Fears surrounding progress: industrialisation, new technologies, medical scientific and advances
- Fears and anxieties surrounding colonisation
- Dystopian representations of the future
- Dystopian representations from the past
- Historic ecological visions
- Folklore and Folk Horror
- Dark economies and tourism in the regions and localities, including Cornwall
- The rise of populism
- Racism in politics and society
Each paper will present a clear challenge to conventional and traditional ways of thinking. The aim of the conference is to explore the fears of the past and the contemporary, as well as the grave anxiety being expressed by many groups and individuals about the future – for both humanity and the world.
Please send 250 word abstracts + a short bio to: Darkeconomiesconference@gmail.com
We also welcome panel proposals, ideas for screenings of short films, or workshop proposals.
Submission deadline: 1 February 2021
* However, if the darkness continues we will move the conference online or to a blended format.