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Listening to our silences: Technology, Communication, and Marginalization


The Center for Research in Ethics (CRÉ) is pleased to announce that the 2023-2024 graduate fellows International Conference “Listening to Our Silences: Technology, Communication, and Marginalization” will be held on June 13 and 14, 2024, on the campus of Université de Montréal.

In philosophy, the question of who can speak is crucial. Since Gayatri Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak” (1988), “the reality that members of oppressed groups can be silenced by virtue of group membership is widely recognized” (Dotson, 2011: 236). In this sense, Kristie Dotson has distinguished two types of silencing: “quieting,” where an audience disregards or undervalues the contributions of marginalized speakers, and “smothering,” where marginalized speakers self-censor or alter their messages, anticipating misunderstanding or rejection. Alison Bailey further identifies “tone-policing,” the practice of discrediting a speaker by criticizing their emotional delivery, and “tone-vigilance,” where an audience’s biases lead to the premature rejection of a speaker’s message due to perceived emotional intensity, as significant forms of silencing. Nonetheless, silencing can give rise to resistance, including “positive silence,” which consists in listening attentively and actively to the experiences of others to better hear the voices of people unheard, and to be equipped to perceive issues that would otherwise remain invisible (Bourgault, 2023).

The objective of this conference is to examine processes of silencing in the digital age, as well as the resistance of “subaltern” people to such silencing. Indeed, the emergence of new communication technologies today provide unparalleled opportunities for self-expression, underlining the democratization of speech. And yet, freedom of expression is often poorly distributed: proliferation of new communication methods tends to introduce new ways of silencing groups of people. Notably, pornographic deep fakes can be used to discourage women from expressing themselves (Maddocks 2020), and virtual echo chambers can homogenize ideas within groups by discrediting divergent positions outright (Nguyen 2020). In this way, many of the marginalized voices needed to understand and build a fairer world are unduly dismissed, and these voices need to be heard and understood.

We invite contributions on areas/topics which include but are not limited to:

  • AI ethics
  • Amplifying marginalised voices
  • Censorship and its implications
  • Critical philosophy of race
  • Ethical considerations of silence
  • Feminist political philosophy
  • Impact(s) of technology on society
  • Indigenous political philosophy
  • Knowledge, decolonisation, and inclusion
  • Philosophy of disability
  • Philosophy of sex/gender
  • Political epistemology
  • Reconciliation through ethical discourse
  • Security and insecurity in the digital age
  • Social epistemology
  • Social justice
  • Social media and justice

We encourage people to submit communication propositions beyond the scope of the provided guiding areas/topics and from academic fields beyond philosophy.

Guidelines for submissions:

  • Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and must be suitable for a 25-minute presentation.
  • Please include 2-5 keywords for your topic.
  • All submissions must be in Word format.
  • Abstracts should be prepared for blind review, with file name: CRE2024_Title.
  • Submit a separate Word document with the following details: name, paper title, institutional affiliation, and contact information.
  • Co-authored papers are accepted.
  • Successful applicants will be notified by May 1, 2024.
  • Send questions or concerns to colloque.cre2024@gmail.com

Deadline to submit your presentation proposals: April 15, 2024.

Organizers: Thomas Emmaüs Adetou (Ph.D., UdeM); Véronique Chetmi Eyali (Ph.D., ULaval); Louis Pierre Côté (Ph.D., UQTR); Ann-Sophie Gravel (Master’s, ULaval); Gabrielle Joni Verreault (Ph.D., UdeM); Alexis Morin-Martel (Ph.D., McGill); Alexis Morin-Martel (Ph.D., UQÀM); and Marie-Christine Roy (Ph.D., UdeM).


Bailey, A. (2018). On anger, silence, and epistemic injustice. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 84, 93–115. 

Bourgault, S. (2023). Attention, injustices épistémiques et humilité. Politique et Sociétés, 42(3), 135–161.

Dotson, K. (2011). Tracking epistemic violence, tracking practices of silencing. Hypatia, 26(2), 236–257. 

Maddocks, S. (2020). ‘A Deepfake Porn Plot Intended to Silence Me’: exploring continuities between pornographic and ‘political’ deep fakes. Porn Studies, 7(4), 415-423.

McLaren, H. J. (2016). Silence as power. Social Alternatives, 35(1), 3–5.

Nguyen, C. T. (2020). Echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Episteme, 17(2), 141–161.

Spivak, G. C. (1988). Can the subaltern speak? In C. Nelson & L. Grossberg (Eds.), Marxism and the interpretation of culture. Macmillan Education UK-London, 271–313.