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1st Global Conference
Fear: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Conference Moved to 2020

On a daily basis, alarmist news headlines trumpet details of impending doom and unfolding disasters. There are near-constant warnings about high-profile threats such as climate change, international terrorism, the rise of the far right, weapons of mass destruction, financial crisis, pandemics, hospital acquired infections, human trafficking and child sexual exploitation. The more banal aspects of existence also appear fraught with danger: sun exposure, breastfeeding, fitness, screen time… the list goes on. Everything from the air we breathe (diesel particulates) to the foods we eat (carcinogenic, genetically modified) may be viewed with suspicion. But what purpose does this culture of fear actually serve?

As we venture further into the 21st Century, a sense of fear and feelings of anxiousness seem to betray a widespread public sense of moral uncertainty, powerlessness, helplessness, hopelessness and resignation. In particularly challenging times, a well-rehearsed, quickly recognisable  and loudly proclaimed ‘narrative of fear’ can offer a paradoxically reassuring means of understanding and responding to threat, whether real or imagined. The culture of fear does not arise independently; it is born of multiple social, cultural, religious and historical influences and those same influences determine how individuals respond to fear and anxiety.

This inclusive interdisciplinary conference aims to interrogate those influences and responses, and consider the agendas which may be driving a culture of fear. Are we living in end times? Are we right to be concerned? Or does fear have a strategic purpose? Are the biological advantages of fear (fight or flight) being undermined by cynical marketing ploys (buy rape alarms, padlocks, guns), political imperatives (leave the EU, build a wall, send them home) or ideological stances (misogyny, racism, religious hatred)? Does living in a perpetually heightened state of fear make action impossible? Where will it all end?

Against this backdrop, we will seek to explore the subject of fear from the full range of disciplinary, professional, vocational, practitioner and social perspectives with a view to forming a publication to engender further collaboration and discussion. The aim is to generate an inclusive dialogue involving researchers, practitioners, artists, activists, legal professionals, marketers, clinicians, social workers, volunteers, journalists, performers, policy makers and others with an interest in the field. Topics for discussion include, but are not restricted to:

  • The politics and economics of fear: the far right/loony left; neoliberalism; corruption; espionage; Brexit; financial crisis; austerity
  • Fear and violence: terrorism; serial killers; murder; assault; GBH; war; civil war, social unrest; protest; WMD; nuclear proliferation; assault; dirty bombs; biological weapons; school shooters; gun control
  • Fear, society and culture: chavs/hillbillies/hoodies/punks/goths; immigrants/asylum seekers; cults; satanic ritual; permissive vs. authoritarian society; institutional racism/sexism/ableism/religious hatred; power; religion; history
  • Fear, commerce and control: big business; fat cats; teflon banks and banking systems; Anonymous; marketing; cartels; monopolies; the Illuminati
  • Fear and the body: contagion; vaccines; sexuality; mental illness; trauma; body modifications
  • Fear and the environment: climate change/global warming/extreme weather events; fracking; pollution; sustainability; food crises; water accessibility
  • Fight or flight: panic; attack; inaction; safe spaces/no platform/trigger warnings; anxiety
  • Fear and Sex: rape; sexual assault; sexual harassment; domestic and partner violence; paedophiles; sexual hate crime
  • Fear and gender: LBGTQI+; menstruation; women’s rights; female sexuality; (toxic) masculinity; #metoo/#notallmen; Incels/MRA/feminazis
  • Fear and the family: same sex parents; single parents; broken homes; child safety; loss of control; feral kids; anti-vaccine movement
  • Crime vs fear of crime: home invasions; ID theft; human trafficking; child sexual exploitation; rape; modern slavery
  • Fear and modernity: technology; change; the rise of the robots; internet/dark web; Millennium Bug; cyber crime; survivalism/preppers/stockpiling; surveillance; privacy
  • Fear as entertainment: horror films; literature; media; social media; the ‘Lexicon of Doom’; competitive scaremongering.

We particularly welcome creative responses to the subject, such as poetry/prose, short film screenings/original drama, installations, and alternative presentation styles that engage the audience and foster debate.

What to Send
The aim of this interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, performances, poster presentations, panels, q&a’s, roundtables etc.

300 word proposals, presentations, abstracts and other forms of contribution and participation should be submitted by Friday 9th November 2018. Other forms of participation should be discussed in advance with the Organising Chair.

All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Development Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.

You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 23rd November 2018.

If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 1st March 2019.

Abstracts and proposals may be in Word, PDF, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Fear Submission

Where to Send
Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:

Organising Chair: Dr Abby Bentham:
Project Administrator:

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What’s so Special About Progressive Connexions Events?
A fresh, friendly, dynamic format –
 at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.

A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.

A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.

An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.

An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.

Progressive Connexions believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract or proposal for presentation.

Please note: Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence, nor can we offer discounts off published rates and fees.