Call for Papers – Diverse Approaches to Hate Speech: Debates, Challenges, and Controversies Conference

Deadline Monday 1 November 2021


This conference, to be held 18-20 May 2022 at the University of Paris,  coincides with the fiftieth anniversary of the loi Pleven, adopted unanimously on July 1st, 1972 and criminalizing incitement to hatred in French law. The conference aims at creating a space for interdisciplinary reflection about “hate speech.” We especially invite contributions related but not restricted to the following fields: history, law, political science, linguistics, neurosciences, sociology, and anthropology. The themes developed in the contributions may include the following:

  1. Approaches to hate speech and its disciplinary diversity

    This topic emphasizes the theory and definitions of hate speech when analyzing its specific characteristics within a legal, jurisprudential, historical, or discursive framework. Is hate speech a generic and over-arching category, or should it rather be clearly dissociated from adjacent concepts? Is hate speech necessarily a historical concept? Is an interdisciplinary definition of such an object of analysis possible, or are the definitions contingent upon the field of study? In sum, this topic examines the scientific and operational potential of hate speech in different fields of social sciences.

  1. Ethics and responsibility of research on hate speech

    Within this theme, the act of defining hate speech is regarded as a performative act involving ethical positioning of research beyond the bounds of normative and moral considerations. In addition to the epistemological dimension of the concept of hate speech and the epistemological consequences of its scholarly usage, we encourage analyses of the ethical, deontological, political, social, and practical consequences of such usage. Hence, this topic evokes the responsibility of research when defining the concept of hate speech, of which links with democracy and the issue of freedom of speech vs. censorship are evident. This theme may also include reflections focusing on the ethical and epistemological stakes related to the Internet and artificial intelligence (A.I.), as well as technical and socio-technical evolution in their political, economic, sociological, jurisdictional, and technological dimension (the role of social media, disinformation, the biases created by A.I., etc.).

  1. Hate speech, inequality, and social struggle

    The interactional and social complexity of hate speech can be examined from an individual/personal viewpoint by analyzing datasets consisting of interactions involving individuals in situations where one knows or acknowledges the exact location of the place where the speech act is enacted. At the same time, such discourses can be produced by institutions or by “ideological state apparatuses” contributing to the production and reproduction of inequalities and processes of domination. In such a context, how should one gauge hate speech that is systemic, structural, state-induced, and institutional? How should one approach hate speech that emanates from legal, religious, or political discourse whose exact sources of instantiation are not known? Do legitimate sources of hate speech exist? How should one assess the responsibility of website hosts in relation to the posts published thereon now that Internet has become a public space of discussion? Hate speech may also be part of militant discourses that denounce hate. In these contexts, how should one approach the contradictions and the mirror effects that emerge when hate itself is used to counter hate?

  1. Alternative discourses and counter-discourses

    This theme aims at scrutinizing the discursive productions that fight against hate speech, namely alternative and counter-discourses, including their functioning and the question of whether alternative and counter-discourses can be differentiated from each other. What is the role of jurisprudence in this context, namely the European Court of Human Rights? Potential contributions may be founded on theoretical reflections, including the role of research as a producer of alternative discourses, critique, interpretations, and explications of reality (political discourse, social controversies, tensions and inflexibilities, wars, human violence).

  1. Practical aspects and remedies

    This topic examines the role of research as social action and, in a more general vein, the role of citizens in a society. Are there remedial practices or devices that are used to alleviate hate, for example practices or devices related to the contributions made by neurosciences or cognitive psychology, such as the therapeutic practice of cognitive trance (Flor Henry et al. 2017), or the contributions related to the theory of argumentation, such as those used in philosophical workshops? More generally, how can one create remedial discourse, verify its efficiency, and distribute it on a large scale? To address these questions, we also invite proposals that differ from the classical format of an academic talk, such as playful and/or creative actions that will be integrated into the program in a specific format.

Instructions for speakers:

  • Please send your abstract of approx. 350 words (references are excluded from the word count), including your name and affiliation, to the following email address by 1 November 2021:
  • You may write your abstract in English, French, Italian, or Spanish. While you may give your talk in any of these languages, the visual material accompanying the presentation must be in English or in French.
  • Innovative, creative and/or playful contributions are welcome and encouraged.
  • The results of the abstract selection process will be communicated after 15 January 2022.

The registration fee will be 50 euro. A waiver of the fee applies to students and to scholars who do not have a position at a university.


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