The Ph.D. Program in History

at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York

GC Events

January 29 | Call for Contributions | Society and Protest Workshop

Precarity: Being on the knife’s edge between wellbeing and disaster. 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic may have generalized the feelings of uncertainty that underpin precarity, but the material conditions of precarity—poverty, famine, warfare—did not become generalized so much as spread and unmasked.

The response in civil society to precarity has itself become more uncertain, not only as organizations struggle for resources, but also as they struggle to identify what their position is vis-à-vis the political upheaval that may accompany widespread precarity. This is neither the first nor last time civil society organizations have faced or will face precarious conditions for themselves or for their constituents. Indeed, for some, precarity is not an exceptional condition, and may even be an indispensable part of what motivates or sustains their activity. At the same time, the unmasking of structural precarity has also enabled the emergence of new forms of organizing and solidarities, and a (renewed) examination of uncomfortable questions around democracy, equality, and privilege.

The Society and Protest Workshop at the CUNY Graduate Center is focusing on precarity for the spring semester of 2021. We welcome submissions particularly that deal with collective response to precarity, with no preference for any particular historical time or place.

We welcome submissions of presentations and/or papers-in-progress for collective discussion. Presentations should not be more than 25 minutes, with 1 hour available for discussion. Papers not to exceed 8000 words and will be shared the Friday before the week of the session.

If you are interested in participating, please submit a paragraph abstract as well as your choice of format (paper and presentation). Send to no later than Friday, January 29.

The Society and Protest Workshop is born out of two previous workshops held at the CUNY Graduate Center: the Politics and Protest Workshop and the Civil Society Workshop. Faculty and graduate students involved in both workshops decided to merge their efforts to create a shared space to discuss formal and informal efforts toward social change across disciplines, and with practitioners in NYC and beyond.

The Society and Protest Workshop meets virtually on selected Thursdays from 12:00 to 1:30 pm EST. We follow a mixed format in which some sessions are panel discussions, others paper workshops with a paper distributed in advance, and still others, presentations followed by discussion.

If you would like to join the email list about future Society and Protest Workshop events, please write to: