Witches!! I’m serious.

The Witch Institute: CALL FOR PROPOSALS

August 16-22, 2021; Virtual Event 

Queen’s University*

Katarokwi/Kingston, Canada

*Queen’s University is situated on Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee territories

What is the Witch Institute?

In the last few years, the witch has re-emerged as a powerful political symbol. Across cinemas and television, in books and podcasts, and via hashtag activism, the proliferation of the witch in media signals a critique of the existing world order and its reliance on the subjugation of marginalized peoples. In order to better understand the meaning and impact of current media representations of the witch, we will hold an expanded conversation between activists, artists, filmmakers, curators, historians, scholars, witches, feminists, healers, and more.

The Witch Institute is a collaborative meeting space for those who are interested in responding to contemporary imaginings of the witch in popular and visual culture. It is a place to share diverse understandings of witches and witchcraft, and to complicate, reframe, and remediate media representations that often continue to perpetuate colonial, misogynistic, and Eurocentric stereotypes of the archetypal figure. 

The Witch Institute will present a keynote lecture by Dr. Silvia Federici, along with a series of talks, panel discussions, film screenings, art exhibitions, performances, and workshops occurring over August 16 to 22, 2021. All events will be free, open to the public, and accessible online. Registration opens January 25, 2021.

Call for Proposals:

We are seeking round table participants and workshop leaders. We invite proposals from artists, researchers, and practitioners. We encourage a diversity of voices as part of this exchange, and highly encourage submissions from members of marginalized communities, including BIPOC and 2SLBGTQ participants.

Round Tables. We are looking for participants who wish to discuss their research with a group. Each session will include 3-4 artists, researchers, or practitioners. Attendees will read short texts (maximum 5-pages in length) or review documentation of panelists’ work in advance. The sessions will be devoted to 75-minute moderated discussions. 

Workshops. We are seeking proposals for 60-minute interactive virtual sessions. 

We invite proposals that contribute to topics including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Witchcraft and Colonization: colonial denigration and erasure of Black or Indigenous spiritual knowledges and practices; reclamation of Black or Indigenous spiritual knowledges, practices, and more-than-human relationalities as anti-colonial resistance or as decolonial projects; cultural evolutions, exchanges, and appropriations among historical and contemporary witch practices. 
  1. Witch Hunts and the State: on-going witch hunts and their interconnected histories of colonization and globalization; witch-hunting as state-sanctioned violence; enforcement of anti-witchcraft legislation in colonial, postcolonial, and settler-colonial nation-states. 
  1. Technology and Magic: traditions of magic, alternative healing practices, and/or spirituality as technology; visual effects, illusions, and magic on screen and stage; technological mediation and the supernatural; technology and the senses; the body and other mediums for spiritual messages.
  1. Witchcraft as Ritual, Practice, and Pedagogy: ritual as a form of learning-by-doing; oral traditions and decolonial practices of knowledge transmission; pedagogical uses of the witch, witchcraft, and/or ritual practices; the perspectives of contemporary practitioners; religious lineages of Wicca and Paganism; intergenerational exchange, kinship, more-than-human relations, and covens; the relationship between witchcraft and feminism.
  1. The Witch as Text: representations of the witch, witchcraft, and spiritual practices in literature, film, music, fashion, art, and popular culture; the commodification of the witch; texts as restoring, or healing the denigration of colonization; shifting perceptions, receptions, and circulations of witchcraft in the context of colonization and globalization.


Those interested in participating in the round table or organizing a workshop, please submit:

  • a 250 word abstract of your research or description of your workshop 
  • which of the above topic(s) you see your work fitting into (if applicable)
  • for roundtable submissions: 2 or 3 questions you would like to discuss with a group who will read your paper/look at your artwork in advance;
  • a 150 word bio. 

Submissions should be sent to witch.institute@queensu.ca by January 25, 2021.

The Witch Institute is committed to accessibility in all phases of the project. If you have any questions or needs concerning this call, please feel free to send Emily Pelstring (she/her) an email at emily.pelstring@queensu.ca.

This project has received SSHRC funding.

Remember James Randi

eSkeptic: the email newsletter of the Skeptics Society

James Randi in Memoriam, 1928–2020


James Randi was a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic who extensively challenged paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. He was the co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation. WikipediaBorn: August 7, 1928, TorontoDied: October 20, 2020, Plantation, Florida, United States

James Randi

American-Canadian magician


James Randi was a Canadian-American stage magician and scientific skeptic who extensively challenged paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. He was the co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and founder of the James Randi Educational Foundation. WikipediaBorn: August 7, 1928, TorontoDied: October 20, 2020, Plantation, Florida, United States


Is covid-19 a miracle?

What is a miracle?

In “Reading the Bible: Intention, Text, Interpretation” we find this:

“Consider other than biblical miracles. We have all heard of the person (maybe even a friend or relative) who is diagnosed as having cancer and is then given a prognosis of “less than a year to live.” But the person recovers, and the doctor says that the cancer is gone. The person’s life is imperiled; against expectation, the person is saved. Isn’t that a miracle? It depends upon who is reading the events. From the medical point of view, such examples indicate that medical prediction, in many cases, is not particularly accurate. And this does not mean that the doctor was an incompetent or the cancer was never there. Part of the description of a particular case may well include remission and even cure with no “treatment” at all. Since the human body is a complex system and the state of our knowledge of the various kinds of cancers is incomplete, it is not at all a violation of natural law that this particular person has recovered. But now consider these same facts from the point of view of the patient. Imagine that after the diagnosis the patient goes to see her priest and together they pray. And several times a day she prays to her god for assistance. From her point of view a miracle has occurred. Her petition has been granted and no matter what others say she will continue to believe that a miracle has occurred and that her life is the only evidence required. The popular press is full of these sorts of stories of prayer-miracles. Another kind of example comes from near escapes from potentially deadly accidents. In a recent severe windstorm in British Columbia several trees were blown down in populated areas. House after house suffered damage from large Douglas Fir trees suddenly uprooted by the wind and thrown into the house. In one case a couple were in bed in their water bed thinking about getting up to prepare for the day. Since the roads were blocked and the ferry was not running it seemed probable that going to work late was not a bad idea. The man moved across the water bed to “cuddle” a bit before getting up. Crash! His side of the bed sud- denly had an arm thick branch puncturing the very spot where he had just been. Miracle? Or coincidence? The significance of some coincidences as opposed to others (the cat was under the bed, say, and was impaled by the branch) comes about because of the relation between the coincidence and a set of human hopes, fears, and desires. The non-religious person would, as he jumped out of the deflating bed, thank his good luck for saving him at the cost of the cat. Coincidence-miracles depend upon the point of view of the persons involved. What the non-religious person calls luck is called the grace of God or a miracle of God by the religious person. When such a coincidence does occur, and when from a particular person’s point of view that coincidence is sig- nificant, the tendency is to think of oneself as being special (Lady Luck smiles on you). Once again we find a flawed argument at work: If I am special then God will look after me by arranging for good things to happen to me. Good things happen to me; therefore, I am special. Such a coincidence can be taken by the religious person as a sign that god is at work in the universe and that god cares about persons. But, unfortunately for this reading, bad things happen to good people.”

Hope to hear from you in the comments!


Dear friends of UPJA,

We’re very pleased to announce the publication of Volume 2! Please find it attached or on our website.

Our level of engagement for this volume far surpassed that of Volume 1. We received 75 submissions, a roughly 150% increase from the previous volume, from authors in 49 different institutions across 13 countries. We also had 22 excellent student referees from a range of institutions in Australasia. We are particularly proud of the fact that 57% percent of those who submitted a paper or refereed for us identify as a member of an underrepresented group in philosophy.

We hope that the journal will become a platform for undergraduate papers of the highest quality. To that end, we uphold a rigorous standard and commit to publishing only the best papers. With an acceptance rate of 4%, we are confident that the three papers published in this volume represent some of the best work done by undergraduate students worldwide. On the other hand, we also strive to make the journal as accessible as possible by providing feedback to a vast majority of the submissions. We are proud of the fact that although only 3 out of the 75 submissions were selected for publication, 60 of them received detailed and constructive referee reports.

Two of the three papers in this volume are on social philosophy, and the third is on Chinese philosophy. In Pornography and Other Recorded Speech Acts, Jasper Friedrich (University of Aberdeen) builds an account of recorded speech acts to defend Rae Langton’s application of Speech Act Theory to pornography against an objection from Jennifer Saul. In Sexual Desire and Sexual Perversion, Kristina Dukoski (University of Toronto) provides new analyses of those two titular concepts, both of which focus on the reciprocal status of potential ‘pleasant sexual partners’ as agential beings. And in Reconceptualising Confucian Freedom: The Role of Xin in Mediation, Ang Wei Xiang (Nanyang Technological University) challenges Li Chenyang’s approach to Confucian freedom, arguing that we should pay greater attention to the act of choosing itself, rather than whether one chooses the good.

We are delighted to announce the winners of our two prizes for Volume 2. Best Paper goes to Jasper Friedrich, and Best Paper (Member of an Underrepresented Group in Philosophy) goes to Kristina Dukoski. Congratulations to you both! These prizes are generously funded by the Australasian Association of Philosophy (AAP).

AAP’s continued support for the journal has been invaluable. We are grateful that AAP has agreed to increase its funding for us this year and are very excited that one of our editors will soon be on its Undergraduate Committee. Our partnership with Minorities and Philosophy also complements our efforts to promote inclusivity and diversity. We’d like to acknowledge all the support we have received from our faculty advisors, Associate Professor Stephanie Collins (Australian Catholic University), Assistant Professor Sandra Leonie Field (Yale-NUS), and Dr Carolyn Mason (University of Canterbury).

If you are interested in hearing about our call for papers and referee applications for Volume 3, please look out for our upcoming emails, or visit our Facebook page and website. We will be opening paper submissions and referee applications in late August. 

Kida, Matt, Rory, and Anita

Good book!

Thought experiments are a staple in philosophy. We all remember the unconscious violinist, the Thomson lamp, Galileo’s complex objects, People seeds, and Einstein’s elevator. These “experiments” are narratives designed to stimulate thought on some philosophical problem or other and to encourage discussion. Often challenging, they ask readers to reconsider long held beliefs and pay attention to the consequences of a position.