17 February 2023

The PSA Early Career Network is inviting abstract submissions for a symposium on Producing Knowledge and Disciplining Politics. Submissions may be made online by 14 April 2023.



PSA Early Career Network Symposium 'Producing Knowledge and Disciplining Politics'


Symposium Date: Monday, 3 July

Deadline for abstracts: Friday, 14 April


Our research, at its core, is a mode of constructing knowledge about our political worlds. The ways in which we develop this knowledge—our methods and methodology—is inextricably intertwined with relations of power, processes of capital, and social hierarchies. How can we theorise methodology as a mode of epistemic production, one constitutive of politics itself?

Following last year’s symposium on the contestation of epistemic boundaries, we again lean on a functional reading of positionality as generative of our work, but this time extend the focus to practices of doing research. Namely, the ways in which we seek, construct, designate, assemble, and refine knowledge: through what methods do we produce ‘results’?

Practices of ‘doing’ research are inextricably intertwined with ‘being’ a scholar; these practices constitute us as well as our work. This framing forces us to reckon with the values we enact through our methodologies, and whether we could sharpen our commitments through intentional academic praxis. More specifically, how do the material conditions of early career research limit or constrain possible methods? How does early career status, necessarily preceding the completion of academic discipline, prove generative of methodological innovation?

We invite presenters to reflect on the imbrication of method and power; epistemology is necessarily political. Contributions may address the constraints of geographical or ideological locations, and the different resources that such locations provide. The phrase knowledge production itself invites a materialist analysis. How do you conceive of the university as a means of knowledge production, and how do logics of capital affect the knowledge we produce? How does the increasing casualization and proletarianization of higher education affect the production of knowledge?

We hope to include a wide range of reflections, from those thinking about more theoretical methodologies to those working through more positivist approaches. Through these discussions, we want to draw out the political implications of reifying ‘facts’ and ‘data’ in different ways, as well as the fungibility of our results. What types of methodologies produce what types of political tools? How can we, through a reflexive approach to our work and its outcomes, sharpen these tools?

This one-day symposium will provide a forum for these discussions (and beyond), taking place virtually. We will host synchronous roundtable discussions and a keynote, and aim to provide opportunities for feedback, dialogue, and socialising.


Submissions could engage with the following questions:

  • To what issues could our research respond more effectively? How can we start building those pathways?

  • What methodologies might allow us to expand the study of politics onto different terrains, of aesthetics or history, for example?

  • How can we recognise different groups with a stake in our research, and how can we practice responsibility to them?

  • What methodologies might afford a more collective or embodied understanding of politics?

  • How do we interpret the categories of “theory” vs “practice” and the existence (or not) of a gap between them?

  • How do we interpret the categories of “scholar” vs “activist” and the existence (or not) of a gap between them?


Other themes could include:

  • Positionality in research

  • Different ways of knowing

  • Marginalised methodologies

  • Challenges and opportunities around cross- or interdisciplinary work

  • Boundaries between academia and other spaces

  • Ethics considerations in research and methodological approaches


All proposals should be submitted via the symposium submission form by Friday, 14 April. We welcome proposals for individual paper presentations as well as roundtables or panels. Individual submissions should include an abstract of under 250 words and will then be allocated to a panel or roundtable. Proposals for panels should include a short description of the theme, abstracts for each individual paper, and names of the chair and discussant. Roundtables may be less structured but require a brief description of the proposed theme and list of participants. Roundtable discussions will necessarily take place synchronously, whereas panels could potentially operate asynchronously in the same format as the remainder of the conference, if those submitting are constrained in their schedules or access to reliable internet.


We hope to receive a range of innovative and exciting work; even if you’re not submitting, the symposium day is not to be missed.