Friday, January 25, 2019

11:00 a.m.

Doors Open

coffee & tea will be served

11:45 a.m.

Welcome

12:00 – 1:45 p.m.

Conscience

Our Consciences Are Not Clean: Moral Agency and Responsibility in a Broken World

Elizabeth Sweeny Block

Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Department of Theological Studies
Saint Louis University

TBA

Amy Gais

Andrew J. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry
Washington University in St. Louis

2:15 – 4:00 p.m.

Coercion and the Good

TBA

Anna F. Bialek

Assistant Professor, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University in St. Louis

Of Words and Power: The Coerciveness of Language

Matthew Babb

Andrew J. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry
Washington University in St. Louis

4:30 p.m.

How to Live Free in an Age of Pessimism

Neil Roberts, Williams College

Keynote Lecture

Saturday, January 26, 2019

9:15 a.m.

Doors Open

light breakfast will be served

9:45 – 11:30 a.m.

Coercion in the Immigration Context

Property of Others: Immigrant Arbitrations and Alien Land Laws, 1880-1930

Torrie Hester

Associate Professor of History
Saint Louis University

The Proximity and Visibility of Immigrant Detention in the United States

Adriano Udani

Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Public Policy Administration Program
University of Missouri – St. Louis

1:00 – 2:45 p.m.

TBD

TBA

Elizabeth Borgwardt

Associate Professor, Department of History, Washington University in St. Louis

Black-Femme Disobedience: Re-Reading the Story of Gender

Jeffrey Q. McCune, Jr.

Associate Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Associate Professor, African and African American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis

3:15 – 5:00 p.m.

Culture & Politics

On Compromise: Literature After Democracy

Rachel Greenwald Smith

English, Saint Louis University

Liberal Equality, Neutrality, and Culture

Jonathan Gingerich

Andrew J. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry
Washington University in St. Louis

Learn more about the presentations!

Friday, January 25, 12:00 – 1:45 p.m.

Panel One: “Conscience”

Our Consciences Are Not Clean: Moral Agency and Responsibility in a Broken World

Appeals to conscience abound. Recent news articles cite Colin Kaepernick as someone whose conscience cost him his career in the NFL and refer to the consciences of U.S. senators during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination hearing. Everyday uses of conscience typically assume that it is profoundly private and personal, focused on individual actions and isolated decisions. This makes it far too easy to claim moral innocence, to declare “my conscience is clean.” Even the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) understood conscience to be “the most secret core and sanctuary of man,” where one is alone with God. Although Roman Catholic moral theologians since then have reimagined conscience as relational and contextual, more person-centered and less legalistic than it was previously, it is still the case that theological conceptions of conscience do not account for social or structural sin or what moral theologian Bryan Massingale has termed “culturally legitimated social evil,” which includes systemic injustices such as white privilege and male privilege. In other words, there is harm in the world for which privileged persons must take responsibility even though it has not been caused by their individual actions. This paper will utilize theological resources to argue that conscience should not simply be a measure of or in pursuit of one’s own moral goodness or innocence, but must instead be that which helps us to reckon with our complicity in systemic injustices.

Elizabeth Sweeny Block

Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Department of Theological Studies
Saint Louis University

TBA

Amy Gais

Andrew J. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry
Washington University in St. Louis

Friday, January 25, 2:15 – 4:00 p.m.

Panel Two: “Coercion and the Good”

TBA

Anna F. Bialek

Assistant Professor, John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, Washington University in St. Louis

Of Words and Power: The Coerciveness of Language

Matthew Babb

Andrew J. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry
Washington University in St. Louis

Saturday, January 26, 9:45 – 11:30 a.m.

Panel Three: “Coercion in Immigration Context”

Property of Others: Immigrant Arbitrations and Alien Land Laws, 1880-1930

In the late nineteenth century, several Chinese immigrant communities in California and Washington, among others states, were burned to the ground by white Americans. After the violence, a small number of Chinese immigrants used property rights based in international law to secure restitution for damages. Within a few years, California and Washington legislators passed alien land laws designed to deny Japanese immigrants the right to buy property. This paper examines the property cases launched by Chinese immigrants to illustrate the existence of a body of immigrant protections lodged in international law. It then illustrates the ways that legislators used domestic law to undermine that body of protections in their efforts to reify racial hierarchy in the United States.

Torrie Hester

Associate Professor of History
Saint Louis University

The Proximity and Visibility of Immigrant Detention in the United States

The contemporary U.S. immigration system is comprised of a complex network of detention centers, jails, and prisons. However, little attention has been given to the role of “alternative to immigrant detention” (ATID) programs. Most ATID programs primarily focus on electronic monitoring in the form of ankle bracelets, voice recognition software, and radio frequency monitoring to track immigrants and keep migrants bound to a specific geographic area. While scholarship and legal advocates have already critically analyzed ATID as another form or detention, rather than a meaningful alternative, I approach the problem from a different perspective of examining the reasons for which the American mass public is complicit in enabling such detention programs. Drawing upon public opinion, U.S. government documents, and secondary sources, I investigate the social and political structures that maintain U.S. immigration enforcement as a “distant but visible” object of perception for most Americans. The distant-visible position of immigration enforcement in U.S. mass publics has broad implications for society, as it maintains the existence of submerged surveillance tactics that cause mental and physical anguish among targeted populations while dodging public scrutiny and accountability.

Adriano Udani

Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
Public Policy Administration Program
University of Missouri – St. Louis

Saturday, January 26, 3:15 – 5:00 p.m.

Panel Four: TBA

TBA

Elizabeth Borgwardt

Associate Professor, Department of History, Washington University in St. Louis

Black-Femme Disobedience: Re-Reading the Story of Gender

This paper is interested in how we can best account for shared cultural spaces, between black “femme” subjects; and thereby, also interrogates shared cultural productions, through a close examination of what I call market effeminacies. Here, I gesture toward a style of performance—conjured in black gay men’s and straight women’s spaces—which oscillates between being understood as over-the-top, exaggeratedly feminine, soft, or even fierce. And though all of these performances typically mean something differently when engaged, I argue that they become flattened in their distinction under market effeminacies. While all black gay men and black straight women do not produce femme performance per say, so much of how we come to know blackness in the lives of black gay men and straight women in public media is through this gendered display. The shared language, as indexed in visual culture, I argue is less an evidence of some long-desire to be the other, or to consume the other, or even to steal from the other; but, rather an indicator of being co-produced in the world with the other.  Hence, this paper explores the representation of (non)kinship between black queer men and straight women, illuminating not only its troubled representation, but its dynamic possibilities. 

Jeffrey Q. McCune, Jr.

Associate Professor, Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Associate Professor, African and African American Studies, Washington University in St. Louis

Saturday, January 26 1:00 – 2:45 p.m.

Panel Five: “Culture and Politics”

On Compromise: Literature After Democracy

This presentation tells the story of how a particular concept—compromise—took on exaggerated significance in evaluations of art beginning in the 1990s. It argues that the past 30 years has seen the rise of work by scholars, reviewers, and artists that imagine the end of conflict between experimentalism and tradition; the avant-garde and the institutional; the underground and the commercially lucrative. In the wake of these positions, radicalism starts to look outmoded, naïve, and irresponsible. This general suspicion toward uncompromising positions, while established in the cultural sphere, turns out to have political consequences, bolstering the sense that permanent compromises might replace the push and pull that has historically existed between entrenched conservatism and the imagination of revolutionary change.

On Compromise: Literature After Democracy

Rachel Greenwald Smith

English, Saint Louis University

Liberal Equality, Neutrality, and Culture

An essential component of liberal equality is the equal ability of individuals to form their own, autonomous conceptions of the good. A further basic commitment of liberal political theory is that, in order to live together in a just and peaceful society, we do not need to coordinate with one another about the good, only about the right. I argue that the view that we can achieve liberal equality without coordinating about the good neglects the constraints that culture places on individuals as they form their own conceptions of the good. We are cultural agents through and through: people form their ideas of what is good and valuable in the context of their cultural surroundings. I contend that real liberal equality requires ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute to cultural production just as much as it requires that everyone have equal opportunities to participate in politics.

Jonathan Gingerich

Andrew J. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow
Modeling Interdisciplinary Inquiry
Washington University in St. Louis