Working title: Dancing with Shadows: Explorations in Invisibility

Editor: Ravindra N. Mohabeer, PhD
Media Studies, Vancouver Island University

The word invisibility represents a little understood categorical figure in the shadows that surround all research and practice. As a central theme, this collection represents an opportunity to question invisibility as a theoretical construct. How can some things be seen but also remain invisible, purposefully or by accident? How does invisibility allow other things that can rarely be seen to be profoundly influential?

The word invisible appears in a wide range of literature, spanning multiple disciplines, time periods, geographies and constituencies. When it is used, it typically acts as a placeholder for future intervention on, or deferred explication of a phenomenon. It is important to remember that being ‘invisible’ is an outcome of the process of invisibility. Despite its wide application in research and practice, without deeper deliberation of how invisibility works, the concept will remain imprecise and less helpful than it ought to be. Consider this call for participation as an invitation to share research related to the area of invisibility, perhaps using a new lens to discuss subjects that occupy on outcome of ‘invisible,’ and also as an opportunity to =o-construct a theory of one of the most ubiquitous yet under explored aspects of academic thought and active praxis.

As a process and state generally relegated to the shadows, uncontested and taken for granted, invisibility is not only a form of absence, as is typical of its grammatical binary as the absence of the visible/known. It can also be thought of as a strategic form of presence.

Contributors are encouraged to consider invisibility as the context of research and practice where the visible, the knowable, is plucked out of the shadows, transformed and made known.

Conversely, one may wish to consider the ways in which some things operate in a state of invisibility, purposefully among the shadows in whole or in part, and might address how invisibility is used as a formal or informal strategy, either theoretically or in practice.

In so doing, prospective authors are asked to consider a present working theoretical model of invisibility as an intersection of corporeality =seeing), ephemerality (hearing), agency (power), and affect (emotion) as played out through time and expanded by experience. While there are limited discussions of invisibility as a theoretical ground in the available literature, this preliminary model offers a chance to think about invisibility as a multidimensional construct where at least three of these dimensions play out in the arena of the fourth, and then travel through and are changed by time and experience. Proposals should attempt to interact with, expand, and question this model wherever possible. For further details please visit:

While the proposed collection will be decidedly multidisciplinary, it is recognized that most contributors will be rooted in a specific discipline. Rather than focusing on disciplinary boundaries, it is hoped that chapters in this volume can work together to identify the categorical significance of invisibility as a construct and can speak across disciplines.

Participation is requested from established and emerging scholars and practitioners, and is especially encouraged from authors working at the function of theory and practice. Critical case studies, re-evaluations of existing data/theory, and proposals that identify opportunities for experimentation with invisibility (e.g. in art, science, or activism, etc.) are most welcome.

Your proposal should consist of about 500 to 1000 words and must address =ow your subject can be thought of from a perspective of invisibility. Final papers will be approximately 4000 to 6000 words. Proposals will be adjudicated on how well they attempt to explore and/or help develop invisibility as a construct, and for their potential to contribute to an accessible conversation aimed at a wide audience.

Please structure your proposal as follows (subheadings are encouraged):

Working Title of proposed chapter
Details of Authors(s) including affiliation(s) and email address(es) please also send a brief or detailed c.v. for all authors in addition to the proposal)
Description of the subject / object of inquiry that also includes its geographic location, time period, constituencies, etc.
Objective or purpose of the paper including potential links to a theory of invisibility

Where contributions are based on original research please also include:

Methods, techniques, or modes of inquiry (descriptive, experimental, empirical and theoretical papers are welcome)
Data sources, evidence, or materials and/or theoretical/methodological perspective
Results and/or substantiated conclusions or warrants for arguments/point of view
Any potential figures/illustrations that may be included (preliminary estimate)


Initial Proposals due: October 15, 2011 or earlier (email .doc, .docx, =r .rtf preferred)
Notification of acceptance: December 15, 2011
Final Chapter drafts due: March 30, 2012

As a guide, the following is a list of possible topics. Though diverse, it is by no means exhaustive. You are welcome to pursue one of these areas or propose another area of inquiry not represented in this list and are encouraged to send an informal inquiry in advance of preparing a full proposal.

Corporeal invisibility (seeing)

- Failures/successes of representation, e.g. affirmative action; ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’; glass ceilings; media representation practices; etc.
- Masks as hiding to aid/mitigate power
- ‘Untouchables’ and ‘unseeables’ (poverty, homeless, weight, age, gender, race, etc.)
- ‘The price of fame’
- Unseen infrastructures (physical, e.g. architecture/planning; and otherwise)
- Microscopy and/or telescopes / ‘Seeing is believing’ / visual evidence and/as proof
- ‘In plain sight’: magic / subversive labour / camouflage / stealth = ‘black ops,’ etc.
- Anonymity in/and the digital age

Ephemeral invisibility (hearing)

- The work of the translator
- Free labour (commodity audience; volunteerism, etc.)
- Professional boundaries or silos
- Ableisms
- The semantic web / code / Web 2.0/3.0, filter bubbles
- The role of the editor (books, newspapers, etc.)
- Participatory / autonomous media practices
- Pressures from funders / conflicts of interest

Agential invisibility (power)

- Bentham/Foucault and the panopticon
- Citizenship / migration / exile (activism)
- The life of the adjunct academic / temp worker
- Surveillance/sousveillance, CCTV, hacktivism, culture jamming, pranks, etc.
- Social inclusion/exclusion
- The hidden development process of public policy
- Political economy and/as invisibility

Affectual invisibility (emotion)

- Historical shifts in advertising from detailed description to commodity fetishisms
- Belief systems, moral compasses, ‘the Hand of God’
- Being/going nowhere/no place
- The proverbial ‘elephant in the room’ or ‘fly on the wall’
- Political correctness and/or paralysis in/through fear of upset
- The lottery/gambling/greed/confidence schemes
- Consumer confidence / stock markets and the emotional economy

Please send informal inquiries (encouraged) and completed proposals to:

Ravindra N. Mohabeer, PhD
Media Studies
Vancouver Island University
(alt email: )

Proposals DUE: October 15, 2011 (.doc, .docx, or .rtf formats preferred)
Please also send a brief or full c.v. of all participating authors
Further information:

Download CFP:


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