This semester I had the opportunity to travel to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario to speak at their annual conference, “Imagining Otherwise.” I shared the research I have been working on for my co-op in the department of Philosophy and Religion, which explores the intersection of civil disobedience and mass incarceration. This was the first philosophy conference I had ever attended, so in addition to receiving feedback on my work I was hoping to learn more about conferences in general.
As it turns out, this conference was supposed to be for graduate students rather than undergraduates, but the organizers liked my abstract enough to make an exception. On the one hand, this was so exciting because I got to experience an event that wouldn’t normally be open to undergraduates; but on the other hand, I was very nervous about how my work would compare to the other presenters and whether I would be able understand their projects. Although I did struggle to keep up with a lot of what was shared, overall I learned so much from each presentation, as well as just socializing with the other attendees. Particularly what struck me was the intersectional nature of it all. Of course there were plenty of philosophers there, but also people mainly trained in other disciplines like English, critical studies, international relations, political science, and art history. Yet everyone’s work seemed to overlap and connect with each other. This allowed me to explore new areas of research into things like American Pragmatism, critical race studies, and continental philosophy while also expanding my own areas of research by learning more about the prison abolition movement.
People from all over Canada and U.S. attended the event, so I got to meet graduate students and professors with a diverse range of backgrounds. I had the wonderful opportunity to talk to the conference’s keynote speaker, Lisa Guenther, about mass incarceration and prison resistance. Her research often deals with prisons, particularly solitary confinement, so it was amazing to discuss her work, as it influences my own in many ways. Overall, I can certainly say that the experience was all I could have hoped!