Transforming Relations: Symposium & Doctoral Seminar

26-04-2019 from 14:00 to 16:00
STUK- Leuven
Christel Stalpaert
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Cultural Studies (KU Leuven) & STUK Arts Centre Organizers: Anneleen Masschelein, Arne Vanraes and Jonas Rutgeerts (Cultural Studies - KU Leuven), Timmy De Laet (Visual Poetics – UAntwerpen), Christel Stalpaert (S:PAM – UGent) and STUK Arts Centre

On the 26th of April 2019, the Centre for Cultural Studies (KU Leuven) & STUK Arts Centre host the symposium Transforming Relations (Keynote speakers: Amelia Jones, Clare Croft, Antonia Baehr). In connection with this symposium, which takes place from 2 till 6 pm, Cultural Studies (KU Leuven), Visual Poetics (UAntwerpen), S:PAM (UGent) and STUK Arts Centre join forces in order to organize a writing lab on the same topic. 

The writing lab is conceived as a small-scale andp informal event that allows young researchers to share their work with peers. Selected participants will be asked to prepare a paper (ca. 3000 words, in English), which will be pre-circulated among the other participants in advance of the event and read by all participants. As the meeting is focused on exchange and dialogue, we will take the time to discuss each paper and to share ideas and critiques. 

Topic of the writing lab (same topic as the symposium):

In recent years, many relations have been transforming: in the wake of the gay movement, the AIDS crisis and queer theory, negotiation and legal protection of LGBTQA rights is emerging in many countries. Likewise, differing genders and sexualities have been gaining visibility in popular culture, and black life, neurodiversity and ageing bodies are continuously arbitrated within identity politics. At the same time, these categorized differences are also what Angela McRobbie, following Deleuze, has called “luminosities”: in all, they are still perceived as divergent—a more-than-human. Heteronormativity and stereotypes of gender, sexuality, race, able-bodiedness, neurotypicality and conventional relationship patterns, remain pervasive and pernicious. This has fed into a new wave of (post-)feminism and a renewed call for empowerment, not just to young women, but to all kinds of subjects and bodies. 

In another take on relationality, we might shift our attention from difference as a variation on the same, to difference as a creative differential. Each time elements coexist and coextend, their conditions are shifted toward unknown fields of relating. In their specificity they may carry initial vector qualities of what is to come, but the relation is created in the encounter, not simply presumed beforehand. Such emergent collectivities ride a fine line between sympathy and threat: as openings for invention, they overwhelm individual boundaries and familiar patterns of interacting—fostering experience-in-the-making, they inhibit processes of categorization. 

Dance, a mode of thinking through body, movement, affect and their more-than has been particularly responsive to such questions of relating. Many contemporary choreographers articulate a desire to explore corporeality, sexuality, power, and relations between humans and objects or humans and animals, in the shifting contexts of the 21stcentury. These artists seem especially aware that the surplus value produced when differing bodies co-emerge exceeds an addition/subtraction aimed at equivalence. Dance, as an art of the emergent, can attune to such collectivities and assemblages, without the necessity to parse and individualize those processes that made the relation transformative in the first place. Movement and stasis can create a flow in which identities are momentarily destabilized and the accompanying vulnerabilities carry a potential for composition – relations are transformed and relations transform. 

During the writing lab and the symposium we wish to explore these questions of relation, transformation and choreography, by bringing together speakers from dance studies and related theoretical fields, as well as practitioners. 


The papers (ca. 3000 words, in English) should be submitted to by 5 April 2019. The selection will be made public by the 12th of April 2019. The selected paper will be circulated to all the participants of the writing lab 15 April 2019.


Participation is free of charge, but subscription is mandatory. All participants (including the presenters) are kindly asked to read the selected papers in advance. To subscribe, just send an email to with your name and contact.