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CARNE – Flesh and OrganizationScossy

“Flesh, we believe – more than bodies - is at stake in our posthuman times, in the sense that it is flesh that is subject to increased control either in the laboratory or the marketplace and is caught up in processes of modification that seek to master and profit from it.” (Diamanti et al., 2009: 4)

The XXXV SCOS Roma conference theme of ‘Carne - Flesh and organization’ is inspired in no small part by our 2017 venue. One historical narrative of the culture of Ancient Rome tells us that its gladiatorial contests and damnatio ad bestias (being thrown to wild animals, usually lions) and the sacrifice of beasts themselves served a variety of different purposes. These included honouring the dead and making sacrifices to the gods; reminding those not involved in the warrior state’s military expansion of the violence, bloodshed and killing (carnage) carried out and experienced by Rome’s frontier armies; a confirmation of the power of the state and its ability to mete out justice; and the sheer entertainment of the spectacle. Whatever their function, however, these events seem to us to circuit very profoundly around the flesh and its vulnerabilities, with the horrific murder of thousands of men and animals taking place in what Hopkins (1983: 13) vividly describes as “a welter of blood”. But Rome is a triumph of the arts which celebrate the flesh as well; a culture of sensuous indulgence, carnal desires and bodily experiences.

Our theme also takes off from the longstanding use of the notion of flesh in academic investigations of the more or less porous boundaries between the self, others and the world around us. Flesh, these works suggest, is ontologically slippery and definitionally elusive. For Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1964), flesh reconnects the viewing and the visible, the touching and the touched, the body and the world. Perception itself is a fleshly - auditory, visual, gustatory, haptic, olfactory - activity. Moreover, as Antonio Strati (2007) points out in his discussion of the connections between practice-based learning and ‘sensible knowledge’ in organizations, when we perceive others, we always perceive them as fundamentally corporeal. Equally, the world acts upon our flesh, so that what or whom we touch, see, smell, taste and hear may touch, see, smell, taste and hear us. Elsewhere, Michel Foucault locates modern western scientia sexualis as having its origins in the earliest years of Christianity and its confessional regime which seeks to unearth “the important secrets of the flesh” (1977: 154) as the deepest truths of the human subject. In this reading, flesh is the natural body, always and irrevocably bound to sin and to death.

Cherríe Moraga (2015: 19), on the other hand, identifies a theory in the flesh as “one where the physical realities of our lives - our skin color, the land or concrete we grew up on, our sexual longings - all fuse to create a politic born out of necessity”. In a very different feminist analysis, Judith Butler (1990: 96, 33) defines gender as the “styles of the flesh” which “congeal over time”; whereas Vicki Kirby (1997) takes her and other feminist poststructuralists to task in Telling Flesh for their overstatement of the cultural inscription of the body, and argues that “once you are seriously displacing the nature/language opposition, you have to be arguing that nature, far from being written on, and insofar as it cannot be said to 'lack language', 'must be articulate' (page 90).

Elspeth Probyn (2001), on the other hand, provides a dazzling array of ways to understand skin both materially, metonymically and metaphorically – it protects and is vulnerable, it can be bruised and breached, it is porous, it expands and retracts, it devours and is devoured, it has colour, texture and sensation.

‘Carne - Flesh and organization’ also resonates with themes of SCOS conferences past, like organizational wellness (Cambridge, 2003), excess and organization (Stockholm, 2005) and the animal (Uppsala, 2016). But organization studies scholars have perhaps been somewhat neglectful of flesh in our various endeavours; whilst for the last three decades or so we have paid a great deal of attention to the body, we have largely overlooked flesh. Yet, as our opening epigraph implies, flesh can be connected to organization/s and organizing in manifold different ways. Possible contributions to SCOS XXXV could therefore include but are certainly not limited to:

· The pleasures of the flesh: carnality, sensuality, excess and indulgence in, of and as provided by organizations (and their opposites).

· ‘Fleshworkers’ – cosmetic surgeons, masseuses, cosmetic surgeons, tattooists, make-up artists, slaughterhouse workers, morticians, laboratory scientists etc. - and the markets for their services.

· The resurging significance of the provenance of meat and fish in western eating habits and its cultural, symbolic and economic implications.

· Vegetarianism, veganism, ‘clean’ and raw food diets, the markets around and commodification of these practices.

· Researching the flesh, bodily, sensory, fleshly, aesthetic or sensible knowing and/ or methods, the ethics of fleshly research. Organizing (and researching) in meatspace and virtual space, ‘in the flesh’ and online.

· Bodily changes, wounding, scarring and dysmorphia in organizations.

· Flesh-eaters and the undead: cannibals, vampires and zombies as organizational metaphors.

· The organization of organ donation and the global black market in body parts.

· The global meat industry and its manifold discontents: eg, the certification and marketing of halal meat, the UK horse meat scandal.

· (Re)incarnation and incorporation in and of organizations.

· Pro-ana, pro-mia and fat acceptance organizations.

· Psychoanalytical and psychological perspectives on the organized, the organization and processes of organizing.

· Organizational metaphors of the flesh: eg, the ‘lean organization’, a ‘meaty question’, ‘fleshing out an argument’, a ‘meat market’, ‘dead meat’ etc.

· The use of animal skin for clothing and furnishings and the complex global differences of necessity versus excess.

· The ethics and politics of organizing as understood through Agamben’s zoë (bare life) and bios (qualified life) … and so on.


Open stream and workshops

SCOS 2017 will also have an open stream allowing for the presentation of papers of more general interest to the SCOS community; and we are open to suggestions for workshops or similar events in line with the proposed theme. Outlines of workshops should be the same length as a paper abstract and should indicate resources needed, number of participants, time required, approach to be taken and objectives. Please identify ‘Open stream’ or ‘Workshop’ on your abstract as appropriate.



Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall.

Foucault, M. (1977) ‘Power and sex’, Telos, 32: 152-161.

Hart, L. (1998) Between the Body and the Flesh: Performing Sadomasochism, Columbia University Press: New York.

Hopkins, K. (1983) ‘Murderous games: gladiatorial contests in Ancient Rome’, History Today, 33 (6). Available online.

Kirby, V. (1997) Telling Flesh: The Substance of the Corporeal, New York and London: Routledge.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962) Phenomenology of Perception, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Moraga, C. (2015) ‘Introduction. Entering the lives of others: theory in the flesh’. In C. Moraga and G. Anzaldúa (eds) This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, fourth edition, Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, p. 19.

Probyn, E. (2001) ‘Eating skin’, in S. Ahmed and J. Stacey (eds) Thinking Through the Skin, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 87-103.

Strati, A. (2007) ‘Sensible knowledge and practice-based learning’, Management Learning, 38 (1): 61-77.


Working paper nursery

Last year, SCOS started a new collaboration to offer our members access to friendly support throughout the year – before, during and after our conference. The aim of the Working Paper Nursery (WPN) is to foster academic collaboration by offering collegial support and mentoring before, throughout, and after SCOS 2017, in order to facilitate publication in high quality journals and edited volumes; the nursery seeks to create international and multi-disciplinary synergies between authors and mentors who can collaborate on papers or academic chapters through the online platform, where extended abstracts are made available (anonymously). It operates through an international online working paper series. We would like to invite you to become part of the WPN, which is aimed at fostering academic collaboration that goes beyond the simple accept/reject dichotomy of publishing.

You can find more information on our WPN on our own online platform. We work with a publisher so an extended abstract/short essay of all working papers is published online, while the full paper will be worked on and managed exclusively by the mentors and mentees in order to avoid any issues with future avenues of publication. This is how it works: authors send an abstract of 400-500 words or a short essay of 600-2000 words, we assign a mentor that the authors will work independently with in order to get personalised, friendly and constructive feedback. After the mentoring process, authors are encouraged to send their revised papers off to journals/conferences/book series. So this is a way to foster a collegial approach to working on papers and a way to share ideas, get feedback, build international networks, increase collaborations etc. Attendance is voluntary, but if you’re interested do not hesitate to ask for more information and/or submit your abstract. You can read more about the WPN ethos, processes and guidelines, together with the abstracts of the papers currently in the WPN on their website.

The WPN is led by Luigi Maria Sicca (University of Naples Federico II) and Ilaria Boncori (University of Essex), both part of the organizing team for this year's conference. Please do let us know if you would like to become part of our WPN community as a mentor or a mentee.


Abstract submission

Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted as e-mail attachments (in Word if possible) by Tuesday 28th February 2017 (note deadline has been extended) to the organizers. Informal enquiries can be submitted to the same address. If you intend to apply for a bursary then please indicate this clearly on your abstract submission and in your email to us. Find out more about our bursaries.

We will notify of abstract acceptance by 30th March 2017 at the latest.

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