Desire among the ruins:
mimesis and the crisis of representation

Universidad Iberoamericana/ Colegio de San Ildefonso

June 26-29, 2024

Registration for the 2024 Annual Meeting is open.

Mexico City Annual Meeting Poster

Sponsored by Universidad Iberoamericana and hosted at the Colegio de san Ildefonso, COV&R’s Annual Meeting is being organized by Board Member Tania Checchi.

Filled with palaces and museums, baroque churches and Art Deco buildings, Mexico City’s architectural history spans more than half a millennium, and new architectural discoveries are being made almost every year. San Ildefonso is located in the heart of Mexico City, just behind the cathedral and next to the archaeological site of what was the most important pre-hispanic religious center, Templo Mayor. Its situation at the crossroads of these two major cultural landmarks makes it the ideal venue for our conference.

The theme, ”Desire among the ruins: mimesis and the crisis of representation,” opens up a dialogical and critical space for discussing what kind of motives, aspirations and even hopes are inscribed into our need for images, taking into account from a mimetic point of view not only their sacrificial origin and their concomitant problematic status, but also their almost infinite capacity for transformation and renewal.

The ”ruins” of the title evoke both the actual archeological sites that will surround us during the conference, with their archaic echoes and demands, and the actual “ruin of representation” announced by Levinas à propos the crisis of traditional epistemologies and, most importantly, the crisis of meaning experienced from the 20th century on.

Given this situation, we must ask along with René Girard: is desire condemned to walk among the ruins of its mimetic failures or can it open up to the truly desirable, an alterity whose frailty no violence can reduce or silence? And finally, can Images be the vehicle of this conversion?

Mexico City offers comfortable accommodations at a wide range of prices. Mexican cuisine was declared a cultural heritage of humanity in 2010 by UNESCO and Mexico City’s array of all Mexico’s traditional food as well as experimental new Mexican cuisine will make for an unforgettable culinary experience.

Call for Papers

We have focused our call for papers on the crisis of meaning into which our current obsession with images threatens to send us all. As stated before, images, be they literary, pictorial, plastic, photographic or digital, have their ultimate source in our originating rituals. Consequently, it is our conviction that their link both to violence and to our exit from violence can be fruitfully explored from a Girardian point of view, thus opening up a new field of discussion within mimetic theory that deals with the power, dangers and promises of images. This goal can be attained only if interdisciplinary approaches are attempted. That is why our invitation is extended to anyone interested in mimetic theory and its implications both in this field and its adjacent areas of study: philosophy, art history, theology, anthropology, economics, etc. Different perspectives are always welcome inasmuch as they contribute to new discussions that deepen René Girard´s legacy, all with the aim of having serious conversations in search of a better understanding of the current crisis.

The approximate length of papers to be delivered will be 2500 words (approx. 20min.). Proposals should include contact information, a title and a 300-word abstract. All submissions should include a statement at the end of the proposal listing technology needs. Proposals must be submitted in English.

Proposals should be emailed before or by the date April 1, 2024.

COV&R members are encouraged to distribute the call for proposals to their students and friends.

Seminars/workshops

The organizing committee also welcomes proposals for practitioner-focused, interactive workshops that relate to the work of Girard or the conference theme. Such sessions could take different forms (e.g., workshop-style, forum, discussion group, panel) and may cover areas of interest for a significant group. Please provide a description and rationale for an inter-active workshop on a particular topic to be facilitated for approximately 45 or 90 minutes and suggest appropriately qualified persons to conduct it.

Schwager Prize

To honor the memory of Raymund Schwager S.J., the Colloquium on Violence and Religion is offering an award of $1,500 USD shared by up to three persons for the three best papers given by graduate students at the COV&R 2024 meeting. Receiving the award also entails the refund of the conference registration fee. The winners also receive a certificate.

Students presenting papers at the conference are invited to apply for the Raymund Schwager Memorial Award by emailing a letter to that effect with the full text of their paper in an e-mail attachment.

The paper should be in English, maximum length: 10 pages double-spaced. Because of blind review, the author’s name should not be stated in the essay or in the title of the PDF file. Due date for submission is May 1, 2024. Winners will be announced in the conference program. Prize-winning essays should reflect an engagement with mimetic theory. They will be presented in a plenary session.

Travel Grants

COV&R offers a limited number of travel grants for grad students or practitioners of mimetic theory (e.g., NGO/non-profit staff; journalists, government employees).  Preference is given to graduate students but practitioners of mimetic theory are also encouraged to apply. Grants are given on a first come, first served basis.

In order to be eligible you need

  • to have an accepted paper proposal and offer a presentation at the conference
  • to have not received the travel grant previously
  • to belong to the groups mentioned above.

To apply for a travel grant: send your confirmation of acceptance at the conference and your situation to the COV&R Executive Secretary.

COV&R travel grants are for cost of transportation only and are at a maximum of $ 1,000 USD per person. If your travel costs are less, you will receive the actual cost of travel. If your travel costs exceed that amount, you will have to finance the excess yourself. The travel grant money will be awarded at the conference. Recipients’ conference registration fee will also be refunded.

Hotel Bookings

Important Update on the COV&R Meeting in Mexico City: Secure Hotel Accommodations NOW

If you are planning to come to Mexico City for our annual meeting, please make hotel reservations at your earliest convenience. Our COV&R meeting dates in Mexico City overlap with the Gay Pride festival that is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the city. Because hotel accommodations may sell out, COV&R members are advised to make their hotel reservations before Christmas. Some of the rates listed are good until December 29, afterwards, most of them will still be available, but it cannot be guaranteed as it depends on room availability. In planning your arrival and departure dates, please note that the meeting registration will be Wednesday morning, June 26. The Introduction to Mimetic Theory session will launch the conference at 10:30 am that morning. The conference will conclude at 6 pm on Saturday, June 29. The banquet will be Friday evening.

In what follows you will find firstly the info on some our recommended lodgings and the way participants can obtain special prices and/or discounts in each of them and immediately after a more comprehensive list of possible lodgings with very good rates and additional info.

Hotel Boutique Colmena Centro Histórico

Hostal Viajero CDMXHow to book: Web page https://www.becolmena.com/

In this hotel they have 3 types of rates, among which there is an anticipated reservation special price. You won’t need a special code.

Hostal Viajero CDMX

Hostal Viajero CDMX

How to book: https://www.viajerohostels.com/es/destinos-mexico/cdmx/

Promotional code (there is no limit so all participants can use it) WEBVIAJERO

Hotel Templo Mayor

Hotel Templo Mayor

How to book: Contact: [email protected] and/or [email protected]

You must identify yourself as a participant of COV&R 2024 meeting

Hotel Amigo Suites

Hotel Amigo Suites

How to book: Mail [email protected]

Phone: 5540936713

Promotional Code: CSI06-2024

Valid until December 30th, 2023; after this date a 15% discount can apply depending on the rate at the moment of reservation. 

Hostal MX Zócalo 

Hostal MX Zócalo

https://www.hotelesmx.com/mx-zocalo/

20% to 30% discount. You will need a credit card to confirm the reservation. It will be paid in full at the hotel. 

Casa MX Centro

Casa MX Centro

https://www.hotelesmx.com/casa-mx-centro/

20% to 30% discount. You will need a credit card to confirm the reservation. It will be paid in full at the hotel. 

Domingo Santo Hotel Boutique

Domingo Santo Hotel Boutique

How to book:

https://hoteldomingosanto.gabsuite.com/

You can find up to 30% discounts directly in their webpage, you won’t need a special code. 

City Centro by Marriott CDMX y/o Hotel City Express by Marriott CDMX Alameda

City Centro by Marriott CDMX y/o Hotel City Express by Marriott CDMX Alameda

How to book:

Phone number: 55 1904 3164

Contact Miss Rocio Fuentes from Monday ‘till Friday from 9:00 to 18:00: [email protected]

  • You must include the name of the hotel, dates of your stay and identify yourself as a participant of the COV&R 2024 meeting. 
  • You must have a credit card number to guarantee your booking.
  • You can cancel or change dates up until 72 hours before your check-in date. 
  •  Hotel City Express by Marriott CDMX Alameda offers free breakfast but is a little farther off from our venue. 

**For these two last Marriot hotels to guarantee the negotiated rate there must be at least 10 rooms book by COV&R participants. 

Meeting Information

Keynote Speakers

David Freedberg is the Pierre Matisse Professor of History of Art and Director of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University. He was also Director of the Warburg Institute at the University of London from July 2015 to April 2017. Professor Freedberg is best known for his work on subjective responses to art, and particularly for his studies on iconoclasm and censorship. Taking up the main thesis of his grand oeuvre, The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response, he has recently been engaged in research and experiments on the relations between vision, embodiment, movement and emotion. This has led him to delve, alongside Vittorio Gallese, into the realm of neuroscience, particularly in regard to the role mirror neurons play in aesthetic experience.

Chris Fleming is a highly regarded philosopher, translator and cultural analyst. He is associate professor in humanities at Western Sydney University and is the author and editor of various books on mimetic theory, including René Girard: Violence and Mimesis and Modern Conspiracy: The Importance of Being Paranoid, coauthored with Emma A. Jane.

Carla Canullo teaches philosophy of religion at Universitá di Macerata. She specializes in contemporary hermeneutics and phenomenology, mainly, the elucidation of vulnerability in all its different manifestations and the possibility of thinking Western ethos as translation. Among her books we find Male ingiustificable e metafisica della testimonianza (Unjustifiable Evil and the Metaphysics of Testimony) and L’estasi della speranza (The Ecstasy of Hope ).

Duncan Morrow is a lecturer in politics particularly in the fields of conflict resolution, the Northern Ireland situation, ethnic confrontations and the relationship between religion and politics through the lens of mimetic theory. His recent publications include Reconciliation and After in Northern Ireland: The Search for a Political Order in an Ethnically Divided Society and “Violence Unveiled” in Mimesis and Atonement.

Jean Pierre Dupuy is an internationally renowned philosopher and has been one of the foremost figures of mimetic theory for decades now. He has a background in mathematics and has widened the scope of his research into the fields of social, economic and political philosophy, epistemology and cognitive science as well as metaphysics and literary theory. His recent work deals with the issues of catastrophe and evil particularly in relation to the the paradoxes of time when free will and determinism are considered. Among his publications on mimetic theory, we find The Mark of the Sacred, How to Think about Catastrophe and Economy and the Future. During this annual meeting he will deliver the René Girard Memorial Lecture.

José Luis Barrios teaches aesthetics at Universidad Iberoamericana and is one of the foremost museum curators in mexico, having supervised various international art exhibits and the Mexican pavilion at the Venice Biennale. His research has mainly dealt with the phenomenology of images, cultural criticism, cinema, and metaphysics in Deleuizian thought as well as Walter Benjamin’s constellations in their critical link to culture and politics.

Geoff Schullenberger is a cultural critic and literary scholar. He has taught in literature, theory and writing in university settings for 15 years and is now a clinical associate professor at New York University. He is a regular contributor to publications like American Affairs, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Atlantis, Unherd and the Washington Examiner. His current work focuses on the circulation of critical theory outside of academia, especially on the internet, the sacrificial structure of social media and the relation between academic and conspiracy theories.

Stéphane Vinolo is a principal lecturer in philosophy at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. His research deals mainly with French phenomenology, French contemporary philosophy and modern political philosophy. His interest in mimetic theory permeates all of his work, particularly in its link with méconnaissance in societal liaisons and the problem of violence and difference. He has published on the topics of metaphysics and Girardian thought, negativity and the image in J.-P. Sartre and the animal as the limit of an anthropology of alterity.

Claudio Lomnitz is the Campbell Family Professor and Chair of the Anthropology Department at Columbia University. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Lomnitz was a Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Committee on Historical Studies at the New School in New York. His deep engagement with the study of historical and social structures in Latin America has produced quite a number of notable publications, some of which are Deep Mexico, Silent Mexico: An Anthropology of NationalismExits from the Labyrinth and Death and the Idea of Mexico. In 2020 he was elected member of Mexico’s El Colegio Nacional the highest honor for Mexican academics. His most recent book deals with the subyacen theology of the drug cartels in Mexico: Towards a Political Theology of Organized Crime. 

Guilhem Olivier teaches at the graduate school of Mesoamerican Studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He leads a research program on the sacrificial meaning of the practice of heart extraction in Pre-Columbian cultures as structuring ritual and has published widely on the anthropological implications of myth and the ritual uses of war and hunting. Professor Olivier has received numerous prizes and accolades for his research and museography achievements. His latest book Mockeries and Metamorphosis of an Aztec God: Tezcatlipoca, “Lord of the Smoking Mirror”, deals with the enigmatic figure of the god of sorcery and excess that from the shadows keeps the cycle of violence alive.

Silvana Rabinovich is full professor in the institute for philological research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (unam). She has widely published on the thought of Emmanuel Levinas and the possibility of engaging recent political thought through the ethical lenses of midrashic and biblical texts.  Her recent work deals with counter-hegemonic forms of reading that embrace fragility as hermeneutical key and translation as a form of decolonial theo-logics. In particular, her book The Bible and the Drone integrates Girardian thought with biblical optics in order to overcome the political dangers of sibling rivalry among peoples. 

Francisco Castro is the head of the philosophy department of Universidad Iberoamericana where he teaches contemporary philosophy and philosophy of the image. His work has dealt with Heidegger’s contemporary reception, the representation of violence and its limits within capitalism and, more recently, corporality, sovereignty and new forms of precariousness.

Jorge Federico Márquez is an academic, researcher and professor of the postgraduate and undergraduate program at the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, noted for his academic career and his commitment to teaching at a higher level. He has published more than 40 articles in Social Sciences journals and just over seven books of his own authorship and co-authorship with other academics, among which we can find Envy and Politics in Ancient GreeceEnvy and Politics. From the Middle Ages to the 18th century, and Beyond Homo Economicus.

Among the publications related to mimetic theory, we will have both a presentation and a discussion of Scott Cowdell’s book, Mimetic Theory and Its Shadow as well as the collective volume Girard and Western Philosophy from MSU.