Call for Papers : Trans materialities

Submission deadline: 04 November 2016

The fields of new materialism(s) and transgender studies are both developing rapidly, with exciting interdisciplinary work being conducted (Hayward, 2010; Irni, 2013; Simpkins, 2016). However, there is seldom a platform where academic, artists and activist researchers working with these streams can share ideas and collaborate. It is often at the intersection of academic, artistic and activist work that new imageries are proposed, and trans matters explored, (dis)organized, visibilized and politicized. This special issue aims at opening up this platform for interdisciplinary discussion around the theme of trans-materialities.

A body of work which introduces new perspectives on matter and materiality is emerging, often under the name of new materialism. Drawing on feminist materialisms, vitalist philosophy, and in dialogue with hard sciences, neurobiology, physics and other fields of research, this body of thought troubles previous understandings of matter, by granting matter agency and vitality (Barad, 2007; Bennett, 2010; Dolphijn & van der Tuin, 2012). By focusing on the entanglements of the material-discursive (Barad, 2007), or material-semiotic (Haraway, 1992) realities, these scholars offer inspiring concepts to investigate materials, materialities, and how they matter. This emerging trend assumes a radical interdependence of beings, human and other-than-human, and interrelatedness of phenomena, be them biological, political, animal, synthetic, pharmaceutical, discursive, hormonal, cultural, or otherwise. That interdependency is expressed through new concepts such as intra-actions (Barad, 2007), transcorporeality (Alaimo, 2010), interactionism (Tuana, 2008), and plasticity (Malabou, 2005), among others.

New approaches to matter and materiality are central in recent transgender scholarship. Transgender studies, as it emerged in the 1990s, has been under a strong influence of social constructionism and poststructuralism. However, the discourse on e.g. performativity (Butler, 1990) in relation to the imaginary of the biological body as passive and fixed, has been criticised by various trans scholars (Stryker & Whittle, 2006; Rubin, 2003; Salamon, 2010). One of the strongest critiques is that such performative understandings of gender do not give weight to the complex and profound ontological underpinnings of gender that many trans people experience in relation to their corporeality. A critical vantage point emerges which focuses on the understanding of matter in the context of trans lives and experiences, and the potentials of concepts such as agential realism (Barad, 2003) and trans-becomings (Hayward, 2010) for explorations of trans lived and embodied experiences of time and space.

Where can these new approaches to materiality take us? Can the tools they offer be used to inquire into trans embodiments, sexualities, material practices and corporeal realities? What interference patterns may emerge in these contact zones where new materialisms meet transgender studies, trans organising and activism?
With this issue we are seeking to understand how the fields of new materialism(s) and transgender studies can support, challenge and/or complicate each other in different contexts.  We are also asking to explore what political relevance this dialogue might have on academic, artistic, and activist practices. We therefore welcome contributions that explore trans-materialities in various forms and contexts (empirical, theoretical, methodological, artistic and activist work, personal experiences, etc.).

Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Trans embodiments: trans femininities, masculinities and androgynies
  • Queering transgender: narratives and experiences of lived materialities
  • Borderlands and materialities: gender, race, sexuality, and disability
  • Trans people of colour and indigenous peoples: entanglements of situatedness, materiality, and knowledge production. Dark matter and blackness: critical perspective on materialities
  • Transitioning, transiting and trans-exiting disciplinary fields and corporeal knowledges
  • Decolonialising transgender knowledge production: materialising intersectional perspectives, methodologies and approaches
  • Organisational experiences: transgender health and corporeal limitations and possibilities
  • Material conditions at work: gender ontologies in the workplace
  • Materialities of access in a migration perspective
  • Making temporalities: queer and trans material (digital) archives, theories and praxis
  • Agency of matter: bodily functions, agency of hormones, and the effects and affects of big pharma
  • Environmental approach to trans materialities: rethinking nature, culture, and biology.
  • Queer animals and nature: (re)introducing a political edge
  • Transfeminist science and technology: bodies, hormones and neurons    
  • Change, becoming, and duration in ontological perspectives and lived experiences


The special issue invites various formats of original and unpublished academic, artistic and activist research and collaborations, such as full length articles (5000-8000 words), personal narratives (1000-2000 words), short essays (2000-3000 words), book and film reviews (1000-1500 words), and creative writing pieces. We welcome submissions of work by MSc/MA/MS, MPhil, PhD students, academics in precarious positions and independent researchers, artists, collectives, and activists. We especially welcome contributions from indigenous and/or people of colour, and/or trans and/or non-binary people, and perspectives from post-Soviet contexts and the Global South. We encourage collaborative and collectively authored pieces. For general guidelines for submissions, please consult the information on the GJSS website.

Guidelines for abstracts

Interested contributors from activism, art, and academia, and at their interface, are invited to submit an abstract of maximum 350 words. The abstracts should include: title, author’s/s’ name, current affiliation and e-mail address, author’s/s’ short bio (up to 200 words), and maximum five key words.

The deadline for abstract submission is 4th November, 2016. Submissions should be original, previously unpublished work not currently under review by other publications. The results of a preliminary review will be announced by mid-November. The selected authors will then be invited to submit full papers by 31st January, 2017. The planned date for journal publication is July 2017.

Please send submissions and inquiries to guest editors Max van Midde, Olga Cielemęcka and Vick Virtú at


  • Alaimo, S. (2010). Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Barad, K. (2003). Posthumanist performativity: Towards an understanding of how matter comes to matter. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 28(3), 801-831.
  • Barad, K. (2007). Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things. Durham: Duke University Press.
  • Butler, J. (1990). Gender trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. New York: Routledge.
  • Dolphijn R. & van der Tuin, I. (2012). New Materialism: Interviews and Cartographies. Ann Arbor: Open Humanities Press.
  • Haraway, D. (1992). The Promises of Monsters, A Regenerative Politics for Inappropriate/d Others. In: L. Grossberg, C. Nelson & P. A. Treichler (Eds), Cultural Studies (pp. 295-337). New York: Routledge.
  • Hayward, E. (2010). Spider city sex. Women & Performance, 20(3), 225-251.
  • Irni, S. (2013). Sex, power and ontology: Exploring the performativity of hormones. NORA: Nordic Journal of Women's Studies, 21(1), 41-56. doi:10.1080/08038740.2012.757249
  • Malabou, C. (2005). The Future of Hegel: Plasticity, Temporality, and Dialectic. New York: Routledge.
  • Rubin, H. (2003). Self-made men: Identity and embodiment among transsexual men. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press.
  • Salamon, G. (2010). Assuming a body: Transgender and rhetorics of materiality. New York (NY): Columbia University Press.
  • Simpkins, R. (2016). Trans*feminist intersections. TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, 3(1-2), 228-234.
  • Stryker, S. & Whittle, S. (Eds.). (2006). The transgender studies reader. London: Routledge.
  • Tuana, N. (2008). Viscous Porosity: Witnessing Katrina. In: S. Alaimo & S. Hekman (Eds.), Material Feminisms. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Max van Midde, Olga Cielemęcka and Vick Virtú

Envisaged Publication Date

July 2017

Submission Deadline

04 November 2016