CfP: Porno-graphics and porno-tactics: desire, affect and representation in pornography (Publication: Re-Public); DL: 28.02.2012

Re-Public (Web), Guest editors: Eirini Avramopoulou and Irene Peano

Re-Public is an online journal focusing on innovative developments in contemporary political theory and practice. 

Deadline for submissions: 28 February 2012

Pornography’s inscriptions in representation have troubled feminist writers, who since the 1970s have been critically addressing issues related to the presentation of the female body. Porn, it was contended, is for the most part a heterosexist genre, and its market circulation serves male libidinal pleasure, fixing the position of pleasure for both wo/men and abiding by patriarchal, gendered and sexually imposed norms. Later, the term was reclaimed under a critical re-perception of porn, cast as a gaze upon different others. This time race, religion, class came to the forefront. From Rosi Braidotti (m.s.) who addresses issues of racism in islamophobic representations such as the documentary ‘Fitna’, to the many commentators who related pornography to acts of torture, most notably in Abu-Ghraib (McClintock 2009) – pornography becomes a ‘concept metaphor’ that haunts autonomy (the laws of the self) through an heteronomous (laws of the other) affect (cf. Nancy 2007). Similarly, in debates over forced sex-work, the voyeuristic humanitarian gaze produces its Others either by sexualizing the other’s body, or by desexualizing the human in it.

On the other hand, many newly emerging artworks, documentaries, and porn productions, attempt to exscribe from porn its initial, normatively repressed qualities, and re-inscribe a feminist or queer perception of enjoyment and pleasure through feminine jouissance and the possibilities to push the limits of representation. In such tactics (de Certeau 1984), porn does not only become a concept-metaphor but, rather, it is being worked through a radical metonymic approach which seeks to transgress norms, explore desires and open up to affects. Tactics thus become tactile.

The promise of the politics of performativity that one can read when a term is reclaimed so as to re-produce it in difference, however, always defines the premise of possible misfire (Butler 1997). We propose to reflect on pornography from the point of view both of the ‘politics of representation’ which it may apply, subvert, reproduce and perform, and also of its ‘affective and libidinal’ dimension. We do not claim the euphoric potentiality of pornography as necessarily subversive, but we open to the possibilities of re-writing (in textual, contextual, intertextual) on/about it through different graphic and tactical/tactile inscriptions.

Therefore, on the one hand we ask contributors to reflect on definitions and practices of pornography as a genre adopting specific codes and canons, whether it is concerned with sex acts or with other subjects of representation. Can the term ‘pornography’ be used un-troubled, or without questioning its initial inscription as a per se normative vision in representation and other forms of (emdodied, inter/subjective) desire? How easy is it to reclaim it as a term? What would this entail? To what extent are discursive forms efficacious in shaping subjectivities, and how we might understand their failures and excesses? What might pornographic representations conceal?

Thus, we are brought to the second aspect of pornography as experience, in its affective, libidinal, inter/subjective dimensions. How does the affective intersect with the symbolic? Where, if at all, lies the potential for pornographic experience/representation to subvert existing mechanisms of subjection? And what kind of economic, (bio)political deployments do representations and affects intersect with?

We solicit contributions from academics, artists, activists and practitioners (in whatever combination). Articles (in English, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian) should not exceed 1500-2000 words in length.

Please send your contributions in electronic format to:
Deadline for submissions: 28 February 2012
Guest editors: Eirini Avramopoulou and Irene Peano

References cited:
Braidotti, Rosi (m.s.) ‘Fitna, or: The Pornography of Representation.’
Butler, J. 1997 Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative. New York: Routledge.
de Certeau, Michel 1984 The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall, Berkeley: University of California Press.
McClintock, Anne 2009 ‘Paranoid Empire: Specters from Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib.’ Small Axe 28(1): 50-74.
Nancy, Jean-Luc 2007 ‘Church, State, Resistance.’ Journal of Law and Society 34(1): 3-13.