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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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Call for Papers

‘States of Emergence, States of Emergency’

Deadline for articles: 15th August 2011

‘The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the ‘state of emergency’ in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history which is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against fascism.’ - Walter Benjamin, ‘Theses on the Philosophy of History’ (1940)

Excursions Journal

Benjamin’s remarks on states of emergency have been fundamental to an understanding of political life which considers the roles played by threat, danger and fear in processes of political control. In one sense, Benjamin suggests that we live in a constant state of emergency, something Giorgio Agamben has called the ‘paradigm of modern politics’, a situation where threat is deployed by government in order to wield power and restrict human rights. Yet Benjamin refers to the need to ‘bring about a real state of emergency’ (italics added), suggesting, perhaps, the etymological connection between ‘emergency’ and the verb ‘emerge’. We could thus read Benjamin as calling for something new, for a state of emergence in which newness is constituted.

Excursions, an interdisciplinary, open-access, peer-reviewed journal, now calls for submissions upon the theme of emergence/emergency which draw upon the vast possibilities contained both in terms of disaster, threat and power, as well as beginning, becoming and creating. As a journal with an interdisciplinary mandate we welcome research from all areas, creating a space wherein the richness of concepts can be explored. Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • The history of states of emergency, states of emergency in different historical contexts, parallels across contexts
  • A literal take on ‘states of emergence/ emergency’ perhaps inspired by the ‘Arab Spring’ - the emergence of new democracies, new political rights, new modes of political representation
  • New technologies/media - their role in shaping public space, discourse and our relationships with others; their implication in new forms of representation/artistic practice; the (re)presentation of states of emergency in the media
  • General emergence - the rise of new aesthetic or political paradigms and perhaps the difficulties inherent in recognising/ narrating these emergences
  • Emergence and origins - narratives or myths of origins and emergence; our modes of narrating the emergence of the individual, the state etc.
  • Scientific advances - space exploration, genetics, cloning - the border of threat and newness
  • Environmental/ecological disaster and emergent environmental conditions
  • Physical/chemical states, stasis and change

Papers should be between 3,000 and 5,000 words, follow MHRA formatting guidelines and be submitted via the Excursions website.
Please contact regarding other forms of submission (i.e. film, photography, etc). Please include an abstract and a brief biography (no more than 150 words) along with your submission, not later than 15th August 2011.


First of all, please create an account. Be sure to enroll yourself as an author!

To submit an article, you can then use our online submission process, which will guide you through the entire procedure.