Conference Panel CFP: Critically Secret: Knowledge-Making and Unmaking in International Relations

May 22, 2019

Millennium Conference October 2019 Panel Proposal 


This panel sets out to explore the empirical and theoretical interconnections between cultures and practices of secrecy/ignorance and ways of knowing in International Relations. While International Relations has attended to knowledge-making practices as connected to power, the extent to which secrecy and ignorance are part of knowledge-making and unmaking remains underexplored. This panel therefore proposes to bring into conversation insights from secrecy and ignorance studies to bear on the production of knowledge within International Relations, particularly in relation to the gendered, raced and queered ways in which knowledge is (un)made. From queer and critical race theories of ‘passing’, ‘opacity’, erasure and amnesia, to gendered studies of silence and leaky bodies, this panel will explore the relationship between secrecy/ignorance and the unseen and unheard, the hidden, the silenced, the absent, and the opaque through gendered, sexed, and racialised ways of knowing.


In particular, papers that engage with the following areas of investigation that include, but are not limited to:


  • studies of secrecy practices from physical and rhetorical strategies of deception to the cultural and ideological, such as the generation of wilful ignorance and cultural commonsense, within the practice and study of International Relations;
  • accounts of how secrecy, security and state-making intersect with racial, gendered, ableist and queer discourses;
  • work focused on representations and materialities of the secret or ignored in order to understand how these representations form part of state-making or global flows;
  • arguments for secrecy and ignorance as resistance and dissent, in addition to secrecy as control and domination, within International Relations;
  • investigations into the interconnections between personal and intimate forms of secrecy and the national, state, international and/or global in security discourses, for example practices of silence and hiding;
  • explorations of the intersection between the concept(s) of secrecy and, for example, the uncanny, mystery, invisibility, or the converse, revelation, transparency within International Relations; and
  • examinations of the (dis)continuities in discourses between state, secrecy and ignorance across time.


Please send 250-word abstracts to Elspeth Van Veeren by the 28th of June 2019.