Persisting Selves: the practices and politics of keeping going and carrying on
5th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies
10th-12th June 2015

What does it mean to ‘persist’, to carry on, to go beyond? What are the barriers through which bodies and selves begin to persist – e.g., through tiredness or hardship; when energy or resources run out; or when familiar stimuli or affirmations leave the self abandoned? What are the politics of persistence when we see how particular groups of people are called upon to ‘keep going’ unequally, or for whom persisting brings particular challenges? Experiences of daily life involve various forms of ‘persisting’ – of keeping the self going corporally and mentally – through both the routine rhythms of the everyday to more extreme or unusual forms of ‘carrying on’. Persisting, as such, is rarely a blank state of continuation, but a portfolio of active strategies, habits, and routines.

These sessions look to interrogate the rhythms and practices of persisting: what we do to ourselves on a day-to-day basis to carry on; the affects and experiences of persistence through marginal or extreme events; and the intersections between personal accounts of persisting and broader social narratives of ‘keeping calm and carrying on’. We are interested in papers on any theme relevant to this topic, but we imagine that participants might interrogate topics such as:

  • The work on the self needed to maintain energy levels
  • Strategies of rest, recuperation and renewal
  • The manipulation of place or the built environment to help people persist (eg creation of ‘break-out’ rooms, rest spaces in the home or at work)
  • Affects and atmospheres of communal persisting – e.g. song, prayer, workplace banter
  • The political economy of persisting – from the energy drink market to corporate cultures of ‘competitive waking’
  • Experiential accounts of persisting
  • Conceptual interrogations of core related concepts (e.g. energy, rest, sleep, activity, rhythm)
  • The ethics and politics of persisting – e.g. normative discourses of keeping going (‘Keep Clam and Carry On’) and the duties of the active citizen
  • Stories of shift workers, parents, gamers and others who are active through the night
  • Experiences of people living with long-term fatigue-related illnesses or in other states of chronic persistence
  • The hiatuses through which conditions of persistence emerge: e.g., exhaustion, grief, crisis, waiting for news…

Empirically or theoretically oriented papers are equally welcome. Please email abstracts of up to 250 words to Jenny Laws and Robert Shaw by 10th November 2014.

Dr Jenny Laws, Durham University
Dr Robert Shaw, Durham University


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