Call for Papers

Agonism: Conflicting Interpretations of the Past, Participation Practices, and Transforming Cultural Venues

7-8 December 2023 at the University of Luxembourg

The participatory turn in cultural venues (including but not limited to GLAM and heritage sites) coupled with new media forms of communication, self-expression, art and community-building platforms have transformed our engagement with narratives of the past. In this landscape of multiple (oftentimes contradictory) interpretations, conflict becomes a central theme for cultural institutions, researchers, and audiences to come to terms with. How do we embrace conflict? How is conflict presented and exhibited? How do we make sense of opposing views? And can the energy, generated by conflictual relations, be channeled to drive transformation?

The conference on Agonism: Conflicting Interpretations of the Past, Participation Practices, and Transforming Cultural Venues will explore answers to those questions by engaging with multi- and transdisciplinary perspectives on conflict.

The central theme of conflict will be related (but not limited) to exploring the role and impact that a theory like agonism (Mouffe, 2013) could have in transforming how we engage and embrace divergent interpretations of the past. Agonism is a political theory that allows the co-existence of conflicting views without aiming to negotiate them into consensus. Instead, agonistic pluralism channels the opposing views’ energy into reexamining dominant power-relations and challenging the status-quo.  Agonism has been adopted and theorised in relation to art interventions, exhibition design and participatory design. We seek to take this further by examining how various case studies and projects could inform a participatory agonistic practice impacting mid to long-term strategies in cultural venues and informing educational provisions.

To this end, the conference will map intersections of participatory history-making, participatory design, museology, audience studies, and their cross-pollination. They invite case studies and theoretical and practical submissions connected to (and expanding on) the following streams:

  • Opportunities for agonistic pluralism in institutioning, infrastructuring and commoning
  • Working with communities in antagonistic relationship
  • Longevity and sustainability of agonistic-led interventions
  • Agonism’s “Passions” in participatory history making
  • Using conflict in producing educational materials, exhibitions, design artefacts (i.e., games, apps and webapps, physical products)
  • Cultivating an ethos of contestation
  • Conflict in participatory processes
  • Pluriverses for public history
  • Exhibiting conflict
  • Agonistic memory
  • Reconciliation

Organised by the Public History as New Citizen Science of the Past project, the conference will take place on 7-8 December 2023. It will be hosted by the Luxembourg Centre for Contemporary and Digital History (C²DH) at the University of Luxembourg. The conference and presentations will be in English.

Unfortunately, they do not have the capacity to run a fully hybrid conference, but it will be recorded and live-streamed keynote sessions to make these as accessible as possible. It will be facilitated up to two online panels (6 speakers in total) for presenters who cannot travel to Luxembourg.

The results of the CFP will be announced in mid-May 2023. There is no participation fee. Organisers will provide some travel and accommodation support for presenting participants (exact details of the funding will be announced in June).

Timeline and Procedure:

To apply for a 20-min presentation, please send in English:

  • Title and Abstract of the presentation (up to 500 words)
  • Short biography including name, institutional affiliation, and email address (150 words)
  • Please indicate whether you can present in person, online only, or either.

Send your documents to or before 15 April 2023 AoE (Anywhere on Earth). Please use ‘Agonism CfP Submission’ and your name as the subject title of your email. Notification of acceptance will be sent by 15 May 2023.