The EDDA Research Center in Critical Contemporary Research at the University of Iceland invites proposals for an international conference—to be held in Reykjavik on 19–20 October 2018—on emergency politics from historical and contemporary perspectives. It aims to bring together scholars in diverse academic fields and working within different thematic and national paradigms to explore “states of exception.”

In the past two decades, Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben’s accounts of the “state of exception” have captured the imagination of scholars working in the fields of history, politics, law, and literature. What has accompanied the resurgence of interest in “exceptions” is the proliferation and increasing use of government or supranational emergency powers or other extraordinary measures to deal with political and social unrest, terrorism, and financial crises. The conference seeks to address several questions raised by this development. What explains the resort to emergency institutions to grapple with political, economic and social problems? What is the potential of the rule of law to respond to emergencies? Is it possible to identify alternative paradigms or frameworks for confronting severe crises? “Exceptions” will be defined broadly to encompass total or partial suspensions of the rule of law in cases of emergency, challenges to political systems or jurisdictional grey zones, in which individual rights have been derogated.

The conference will include keynote addresses by Ira Katznelson, Ruggles Professor of Political Science and History at Columbia University in New York,  James K. Galbraith, Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin, Claudia Aradau, Professor of International Politics at King’s College in London, Nadia Urbinati, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos Professor of Political Theory at Columbia University, and a wide range of papers addressing “states of exception” in the past and present. Subjects included in this call include:

  • Rethinking “Exceptions:” Theoretical and Historical Approaches
  • The Politics of Fear and the Rise of Right-Wing Populist Parties
  • Refugee Politics and Statelessness
  • The Economic State of Exception and the Great Recession of 2008
  • Mass Surveillance, Terrorism, and the National Security State
  • Mass Incarceration and the Carceral State
  • The Impact of New Technologies and Big Data
  • Spaces of Exception and “Exceptional Populations”
  • Historical Victimhood, Vergangenheitsbewältigung and Mass Crimes
  • Future-Oriented Discourses to Escape a “Troubled Past”

We seek individual paper proposals from scholars at all stages of their careers and in a variety of disciplines. To propose a paper, please submit an abstract (300 words) and a short curriculum vitae to

The Deadline for Submission is 25 March 2018.

Applicants can expect to hear back from the conference committee in April 2018.

Conference Organizers:

Valur Ingimundarson, Professor of Contemporary History, University of Iceland

Sveinn Jóhannesson, Past & Present Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London

For questions and further information please contact or Sveinn Jóhannesson (at