Published: April 11, 2022

Intimacies: Friction, Restoration, Action

Symposium Date: October 8, 2022

Deadline Extended: May 7, 2022

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Deepti Misri, University of Colorado Boulder

Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, human-to-human intimacy has been both profoundly desired and intensely feared. Simultaneously a source of connection and affliction, intimacy generates a suite of meanings. At the same time, we can locate intimacy—its frictions as well as its potentials—across the globe in both the distant and near past.

Affective, felt-sensing, and intimate encounters have also forged a platform of coalition across identities and locations. In the context of premodern South Asia, poetic expressions of utmost devotion to deities (bhakti) often comprised an intimate relationship with the divine. This devotion centered on receiving darśana, or a glimpse of the deity. In one such example, Tamil Alvar saint Tirupaanar Alvar sang about the Hindu-god Vishnu, “His beautiful red lips! They have stolen my heart away!” Coming from a historically marginalized community that was unable to enter temples to see images of Vishnu, Tirupaanar Alvar’s intimate devotion challenged the socio-political boundaries of medieval southern Indian Hindu communities. Likewise, in The Kitchen Table series (1990), Carrie Mae Weems stages everyday activities connoting intimacy—combing hair, putting on makeup with her daughter, playing cards while smoking—all at her kitchen table. Consciously collapsing the borders between the personal, private, and political, Weems’ work exemplifies what could be considered a public, even restorative, form of intimacy. In these ways, intimacy is both a historical framework and a method. It invites various tentative forms of theorization and historicization to coexist while being put in contest, thereby creating space for open-ended and speculative inquiries into its nature and potential.

Intimacies: Friction, Restoration, Action invites participants to engage with the following questions: how is intimacy imagined and imaged across time and space? What narratives are tied to ideas of intimacy? How have the binary figurations of public and private, personal and political contributed to the ways that intimacy is understood? How can we conceive of alternative practices of intimacy, including what might be called “intimate sociality”? How


Chronicle and Good Government]. The illustrations accompanying this 1200-page letter, written around 1615, represent the frictional collision of colonizers and native Andeans by picturing a world out of order, or pachacuti—a “world upside down.”

110 Tappan Hall, 855 South University Avenue T: 734 764-5400 F: 734 647-4121Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1357

We invite project submissions from both master’s and doctoral students from all geographical and temporal specializations. We also welcome contributions from practitioners including artists, curators, performers, critics, independent researchers, collectives, and activists.

Possible project subjects include but are not limited to the following:

●  Historical representations of intimacy

●  Intimate spaces, both physical and relational

●  Intimacy and its governance

●  Intimacy and the senses

●  Body abilities and public health

●  Care and domesticity

●  Nudity and pornography

●  Corporeality and performance

●  Engaged ethnography

●  Sexualities and sexual rights advocacy in the global context

●  Affect

●  Material entanglements

●  Intimate activism

●  Object encounters in a museum context

●  Intimacy in artistic and social practice

This symposium is tentatively planned as a hybrid format (in-person and virtual).

Should a majority of participants be unable to attend in person, we will make arrangements for a fully virtual symposium.

Please send a title, abstract (250 words or less), and CV through this Google Form. The deadline for submission is extended to May 7th, 2022, and selected speakers will be notified by late May. Presentations should be 20 minutes at length and will be followed by a Q&A session. Please address all inquiries to symposium organizers

With appreciation,

Department of History of Art Graduate Symposium Organizing Committee University of Michigan, Ann Arbor