call for papers for the GIFT: Presents/Presence conference, 6-7 June in Helsinki (extended deadline!)

Please note: the deadline has been extended to Tue 2 April.

GIFT: Presents/Presence

What does it mean to give and receive gifts? Can the gift be present and entangled in all life without being intentionally given or received?  How do recent changes and challenges in technology, genetics, politics, and bioethics affect our understanding of the gift? To what extent and why does the language of the gift matter today in our present moment, and can alternative, non-conventional notions mobilized by the term “gift” disrupt the ubiquitous strand of twentieth-century gift theory? Stemming from discoveries and insights in anthropology, history of ideas, new materialism, and bioethics, we invite scholars to rethink and revitalize the “gift” from Marcel Mauss to AI embracing the free play of multiple meanings that this concept entails. Acknowledging the dangers of colonizing the gift by twentieth-century Western intellectuals, we aim to liberate it from the constraints of Western positivism, determinism, anthropocentrism, and the familiar critique of the “gift vs commodity” dichotomy. We are asking: what will happen if we consider the gift in terms of presence instead of exchange, entanglement instead of reciprocity, sharing instead of economy or debt?

The two-day conference GIFT: Presents/Presence is organized by the interdisciplinary project The Meanings and Workings of the Gift (Kone Foundation, 2021-2024) based at Tampere University and is due June 6-7, 2024. It will take place in the city of Helsinki, Finland, at the trendy cultural house Kaapelitehdas (an old cable factory building) and will include a temporary exhibition curated in collaboration with Aalto University and the Academy of Fine Arts. The conference will combine traditional panels with roundtables and/or workshops.

We invite papers that address a wide range of conceptual, terminological, and pragmatic questions on the subject of the gift and/or its relation to the concepts of the present/presence from various disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. Historical papers that have a theoretical dimension and refer to the current critical discussions of the gift/presence are also welcome.

The tentative topics include but are not limited to:

  • the temporality of the gift/present
  • the effectivity of gifts across diverse vibrant materialities
  • decolonizing the gift
  • rethinking Maussian concepts (“hau,” “mana,” “gift economy,” etc.)
  • languages of the gift (cf. “present,” “keepsake,” “munus,” “donum,” “sacrifice,” etc.)
  • queer gift theory
  • non-human gifts
  • digital gifts, gifts and AI
  • phenomenology of receiving
  • giving and/vs sharing
  • gifts and/of waste/excess
  • organ transplantation and the Gift of Life
  • academic gifts (grants, Open access, sharing, etc.)
  • poisonous gifts
  • gift of death and bioethics

Deadline for submissions: please send your abstract of no more than 250 words and a short bio to by 15 March 2024. (Edit: the new, extended deadline is 2 April.)