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To Boldly Go: Reflections on New World Possibilities

December 21, 2016

The Sociology and Anthropology Graduate Student Association (SAGSA) announces their annual conference to be held from March 23rd to 25th at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. This year’s theme “To Boldly Go: Reflections on New World Possibilities” is expected to encourage dynamic discussion that relates to the envisioning of our future as either an extension of or estrangement from our past and present.

On September 27th, 2016 engineer, inventor and explorer, Elon Musk, proposed a most contentious yet seminal claim: humans should no longer merely reside on Earth but rather allow for an emergent era in which humankind becomes an interplanetary species. Accordingly, Musk suggests that the first step toward this new age is to colonize Mars to gain a new foothold within the galaxy. This project highlights the necessity to allay the existential risks embedded within humanity as a single-planetary species. It suggests plans to begin establishing a permanent and self-sustaining colony on our red neighbour within the next decade. Hidden within this appeal to our baser instincts is an incitement to our collective imaginations toward rekindling the embers of the Space Race; the 20th Century period of unbridled optimism and unwavering belief in human progress.

It becomes clear that we need to reflect on our past to envision our future. Yet while this announcement presents the technological means that allow us to untether ourselves from our Earthy confines, Musk’s plan fails to account for what this new world implies. To Boldly Go seeks to address this oversight by employing this vision as a blank canvas for social theory and an expression of interest into the means through which to ask questions around what is required toward the production of a new society. Ultimately the question remains whether this potential expedition into the unknown presents something entirely novel or simply a reproduction of the world it aims to escape from.

We invite submissions that highlight a diverse range of questions drawn from this year’s theme including risks, challenges, and potentialities. Insights that might help to shape our understanding of the proposed venture may include topics such as, but certainly not limited to:

  • colonization,
  • self-sufficiency,
  • environmental concerns,
  • social organization/structures including discussions around race, culture, religion, & gender,
  • potential limitations & utopic/dystopic considerations

We welcome a variety of theoretical, empirical and/or methodological contributions stemming from inter/trans/multidisciplinary work or works in progress. In the same way, projects that include nontraditional methodologies, activism, and emergent modes of inquiry that extend beyond the limited parameters of social sciences and humanities are strongly encouraged.

Submissions are due January 17th, 2017 and should be sent to: We invite interested graduate contributors to include a 250 word abstract with five key words outlining their research. We encourage presentations in either English or French. Please be sure to include your name, university affiliation, level of education, as well as any particular needs relating to your participation. We will acknowledge all received submissions.

A notification of decision will be sent by early February. SAGSA looks forward to receiving your submissions and wishes you a successful end of term.

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