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13 June 2021
Articulating the End: the Production, Sustenance, Deferral, and Negation of Endings
This themed issue looks to contribute to the field of communication’s understanding of endings and by extension apocalyptic studies. From the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, to climate change, the current global pandemic, Brexit, and the recent white supremacist assault on the US Capitol, centers of global power have become obsessed with the end: the end of history, the end of race, the end of truth, the end of democracy, the end of the planet. Though the fall of a nation, environmental catastrophe, global health crisis, and ethnonationalism clearly matter, critical scholars and marginalized communities from around the globe have long argued these “events” only matter when elite interests are at stake—and even then only in terms amenable to those same elite interests.
The Greek word for “apocalypse” ( ποκάλυψις, apokálypsis) does not simply mean the final destruction, but rather a “revelation,” “an unveiling or unfolding of things not previously known and which could not be known apart from the unveiling.” Centers of power claim exclusive rights to the apocalypse: the right to not only define the end, but also to initiate the apocalypse for the purpose of preventing “the end,” even if such efforts are never complete or fully guaranteed. Control over time and “end times” enables dominant actors to leverage temporality for the sake of defining and mobilizing hope, anxiety, opportunity, and crisis.
We seek essays that instead center marginalized experiences, communities, and theories grounded in everyday material practices of survival. Specifically, we ask that authors amplify the (im)possibilities of articulating “the end” informed by the work of scholars in Latina/o/x studies, Black studies, Indigenous and Native Studies, and neo/settler/postcolonial studies who have long reflected on the political, economic, social, and cultural politics of temporality as a site of power and resistance, while those same temporal ruptures create openings for marginalized voices to articulate otherwise worlds and critique dominant narratives.
We invite work that considers “the end” not as an event but rather a process whose manifestation as an event is preceded by the assembling of the infrastructure necessary for its occurrence. To what extent, for instance, do endings operate unevenly, so that what is understood and experienced as an isolated event for some (e.g., this is not who “we” are) is often the continuation of the same for others? Likewise, do such continuations and endings constitute disaster or hope, and for which populations? Claims about the “end of civility,” for instance, have often been used to silence women of color, justify state violence, and suppress movement and mobility. Overall, we view “the end” or “end times”—in all their ambiguities, contradictions, and intensities—as a space to investigate several pressing and provocative questions that communication studies is well suited to address and which will continue to add to the project of disciplinary transformation.
Submissions may be theoretical in approach, and/or may draw from qualitative, rhetorical, or quantitative empirical studies that reflect different epistemologies and/or lived experiences. All submissions should focus on theorizing, conceptualizing, or critically engaging “the end” or “end times,” broadly construed, and illuminate how such approaches challenge, implicate, or extend scholarship in communication studies. We are particularly interested in submissions that center issues of race, class, gender, sexuality, nationality, ability, and their intersections, and that address (but are not limited to) the following themes:
- The embodied practices and performances marginalized communities use to make sense of, communicate, and survive the ongoing traumatic and affective experience of “the end”
- How “the end” or “end times” is understood by First Nation, Indigenous, and/or Aboriginal peoples and what those epistemologies close off, complicate, or enable
- How non-Eurocentric and non-US-based geographic, political, cultural, and economic centers shape or challenge understandings of “the end” and “end times”
- The ways different “ends” overlap to create complex sites of coalition, solidarity, conspiring, or relationality
- How life in “the end” and its aftermath can also be a site of care, love, futurity, and world-building
- How notions of “the end” intersect with state discourses of securitization, racialization, precarity, crisis, settlement, colonization, democracy, terror, human rights, economics, justice, nostalgia, insurrection, progress, and/or the future
- How racial capitalism co-opts “the end” to justify its necropolitical and biopolitical logics
- How discourses of “the end” impact borders, border politics, and the movement and mobility of refugee, asylum seeker, immigrant, and migrant communities
- How public health policies and practices (e.g., those associated with AIDS, Zika, Ebola, and COVID-19) operate as contested sites for defining which endings are (un)acceptable, delineating what even constitutes “the end,” and enacting those endings
- How attempts to communicate “end times” often manifest fragmented, incommensurable, achronological, anachronistic, or fractured speech/representations
- The temporalities of different “ends” and their mediated, performative, or rhetorical (mis)representations
- How the trauma of surviving “end times” haunts or otherwise lives on within the body and in memory, and how this affects what can be known, represented, rearticulated, or performed (i.e., communicated)
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