EISA PEC 2022
15th Pan-European Conference on International Relations
Athens, 1–4 September 2022
Pandaemonium: Interrogating the Apocalyptic Imaginaries of Our Time
Pandaemonium is the capital of Hell in John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost. In Greek, it literally means ‘all kinds of demons.’ One could argue that there is no better term to describe the dizzying multiplicity and urgency of crises that humanity is faced with in our times. Simply listing them could convince even the sceptics: climate change and ecological degradation, populism and the crisis of the liberal word order, the US-China geopolitical rivalry, the current and predicted global pandemics and the challenge of biotechnology, the constant threat of nuclear weapons and other WMDs, the uncharted waters of Artificial Intelligence and the concomitant philosophical and ethico-political issues that it raises. The list is not endless, but discussions about various ‘ends’ (such as the end of the Anthropocene, the end of the dominant capitalist model of global growth or the end of the liberal world order) have become the order of the day.
The apocalyptic imaginary is often invoked to convey a sense of urgency and imminence associated with a host of existential, geopolitical, and socio-economic challenges that humanity as a whole is confronted with. Previously, a similar vocabulary had been used to describe the disastrous effects of the events of the 20th century too (two world wars, genocides, industrial warfare, totalitarianisms, dawn of the nuclear era, etc.). Some would perhaps claim that it is unhelpful or politically debilitating to employ the apocalyptic imaginary to address political problems. And yet, few would disagree that the nature and intensity of contemporary global challenges raise fears, anxieties and provocations that may even call the future existence of the humankind into question.
Of course, this picture of a world newly in apocalyptic turmoil is particular rather than universal, not because the perils described are not global in reach, but because world-ending events have been an everyday, lived experience for many marginalised and/or subaltern communities and individuals, subjected to the ravishes of colonialism, war, slavery, extreme poverty, and environmental collapse. Moreover, the impact of the upheavals described above are felt unevenly, depending on geography, class, gender, and race. Indeed, not only the experience of disorder and impending chaos vary in different locales, but the interpretation and proper responses to the existing and coming apocalypses differ too.
What is more, though for many the current state of affairs is a cause for pessimism and despair, for others, it is seen as an opportunity. Rising powers, for example, have reason to hope and work toward shaping an order more favourable to their interests and values while techno-optimists across the globe discover in technological innovation the solution to a number of social ills rather than a cause for concern.
At the same time, the sense of chaos and unruliness fuelled by the convergence of those apocalyptic challenges give rise to visions of carnivalesque phantasmagorias of creative destruction and salutary violence. After all, Pandaemonium names the mischievous politics of the Joker that carry a fundamental ambivalence claimed both by those who embrace chaos—in the hope that the current turmoil will challenge contemporary configurations of authority and power and open up new creative possibilities—and by those who see it as an opportunity to establish new concentrations of power and emergency rule.
Apocalyptic figures, like the Joker or Loki, seem to reveal the Janus face of power and its subversion, or even power’s anarchic nature behind the mask of authority. As Agamben has shown in his Pulcinella, such odd trickster figures, a mixture of mischief and joyful innocence, may not only be seen as agents of the apocalyptic end of humanity, but also as playful daimons of salvation, happiness, love, and hope.
15th Pan-European Conference on International Relations
The 15th Pan-European Conference on International Relations invites participants to interrogate those apocalyptic imaginaries, their materialities and productive nature, explore their subversive or destabilising potential and assess the different aspects of past, current and future world-ending challenges from different perspectives (empirical, historical, interpretive, critical, normative, affective, speculative, material), traditions, and locations.
20 January 2022
Abstract submission opens
16 March 2022
Abstract submission deadline
5 May 2022
Acceptance Emails Sent / Registration Opens
30 May 2022
Registration deadline for participants in the programme
Beginning of July
Online programme published
Dr Sophia Dingli
University of Glasgow
Dr Vassilios Paipais
University of St Andrews
PEC22 will be organised on-site in Athens along with a virtual section, which will take place the day before the main conference (31 August 2022). We are excited to return to a face-to-face conference setting and will be working closely with our local organisers at Panteion University to create a safe and inclusive meeting space for our members. We will closely follow the public health and safety guidance issued by local authorities and the University throughout the conference. The full details of the conference health and safety measures will be published on our website in due course.
While we are looking forward to meeting our members in Athens, we also think it is imperative to increase access options for colleagues who may not be able to physically travel to attend PEC22 in person. The overwhelmingly positive feedback we have received from virtual PEC21 participants underlined the importance and viability of offering a virtual meeting and discussion space. In order to welcome as many colleagues as possible, we therefore decided to organise a 1-day virtual section to complement the on-site conference. Those who wish to participate digitally will be able to submit their abstract proposal exclusively to the virtual section once the general call opens in January 2022. Unfortunately, due to infrastructural limitations, virtual participants will not be able to stream in-person panels and roundtables during the main event. As such, we will institute a significantly reduced registration fee for members who prefer to attend the virtual section. In-person attendees will have access to all main events in Athens, including the Grand Reception and the General Assembly.