PhD Symposium on Fragile Selves 
March 2nd-4th, 2022


Rationale and aims

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, the concept of fragility has entered our lives in a much more prominent way. Our social relations and daily habits have become fragmented, and our ‘normality’ now seems to be hanging in a suspended and uncertain temporality. We realized how porous the borders of our identities are, and our definition of the self has become fragile and unstable. However, the idea of fragility - and the broadly related concepts of vulnerability and care - have been part of academic discourses and debates long before the current pandemic. Fragility and the self have been discussed from political, philosophical, literary, social, artistic, and historical perspectives that engaged with these concepts from both theoretical and empirical approaches. This symposium aims to bridge how ‘fragility’ is described, conceptualised, and discussed in various contexts and fields and across different times and spaces.

Symposium topics

We invite scholars worldwide to submit abstracts that discuss and analyse the concept of fragility and its relations to the self from various perspectives. The abstracts could examine how fragility and the self are framed and constructed in political, social, cultural, and literary discourses. 

Suggested perspectives include, but are not limited to:

  • fragile selves in/and migration;
  • fragile selves in/and minorities;
  • fragile selves in/and the processes of nation-building and identity construction;
  • fragile selves and gender; and
  • fragile selves and environmental catastrophes and destruction of nature

Abstracts dealing with fragile selves outside the scholarly tradition of Europe and North America by PhD candidates, post-doc and early career researchers are particularly welcome.

Abstract submission

A committee of PhD candidates from the Department of Asian and North African Studies of Ca' Foscari University of Venice will select the abstracts and finalize the conference programme by mid-January 2022. In the case we will have to switch to a fully or partially online symposium due to the evolution of travel bans and restrictions, we will create a programme that takes into account the different time zones of the participants.

We plan to publish a selection of the papers in an edited volume.

Please submit your abstract (max 300 words) and a short bio (max 150 words) via e-mail to We kindly ask you to submit your abstract and bio only in .pdf format.

Important dates

  • Call for papers: 5 October 2021
  • Deadline for submission: 30 November 2021
  • Notification of acceptance: 15 January 2022

Programme and venue


The programme of the symposium will be published soon.

Symposium time

2-4 March 2022


  1. Ca’ Dolfin, Dorsoduro 3825/D, 30123 Venice
  2. Ca’ Foscari (Aula Mario Baratto), Dorsoduro 3246, 30123 Venice

Keynote speakers and participants

  • Prof. Rey Chow, Duke University
    Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor in the Humanities
  • Prof. Dawn Chatty, Oxford University
    Professor of Anthropology and Forced Migration
  • Prof. Victoria Philips, Columbia University
    Cold War Studies, Gender and Cold War, Cultural Diplomacy

Travel and accommodation

Travelling to Venice 

There are many ways to arrive in Venice, which include air, sea, and land. The city can be reached easily by plane, by car and by train. Venice is connected to the mainland (Venice Mestre) by the Ponte Della Libertà, a 4 km long bridge, where trains and cars can pass to the lagoon. The Marco Polo Airport is the nearest and the only airport in Venice where most intercontinental flights arrive. The terminal is well connected to the rest of the world from where you can avail yourself various bus services from to the city. Venice-Treviso Canova airport is another close airport from where you can transfer to Venice. 

Please find more information about how to reach the city from the official website of the Città Venezia, the official tourism website of the City of Venice:

Getting around Venice and accommodation

Information about getting around Venice and accommodation will be published soon.


Giulia Baquè
PhD Candidate in Japanese Studies
Ca' Foscari University of Venice
Universität Heidelberg, Department of Asian and North African Studies

Valentina Barnabei
PhD Candidate in South Asian Studies
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
University of Heidelberg

Jovana Bogojevic
PhD Candidate in Asian Studies
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Heidelberg Universität
Former Yenching Scholar at Peking University (2018-2020)

Giorgio Ceccarelli
PhD Fellow
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Lyon III Jean Moulin University’s Institute for Trans-textual and Transcultural Studies

Piero Donnini
PhD Fellow in Asian and North African Studies
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

Chang Liu
PhD Candidate in Transcultural Studies
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
Heidelberg University
CUSP Fellow at University of California, Berkeley, English Department

Abbas Siavash Abkenar
PhD Fellow in Asian and North African Studies
Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Ali Razmkhah
PhD Fellow
Ca' Foscari University of Venice
Territories of Life, Biocultural and Indigenous People Rights, ICCAs
Regional Coordinator in West and Central Asia and the Caucasus, ICCA Consortium

Rossella Roncati
PhD Candidate in Asian and Transcultural Studies
Ca' Foscari University of Venice
Heidelberg University

Anna Scarabel
PhD Candidate
Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Dept. of Asian and North African Studies
Heidelberg University, South Asia Institute, Dept. of Cultural and Religious History of South Asia

Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Department of Asian and North African Studies (DSAAM)

Palazzo Vendramin, Dorsoduro 3462, 30123 Venice - Italy
Ca' Cappello, San Polo 2035, 30125 Venice - Italy