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Special Issue - "Diversity, Difference and Inclusion in Monstrous Organizations"

Special issue call for papers from Equality, Diversity and Inclusion


Call for Papers

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – An International Journal

Special Issue:

‘Diversity, Difference and Inclusion in Monstrous Organizations’

Guest Editors:

Torkild Thanem, Stockholm University School of Business

Alison Pullen, Swansea University School of Business & Economics

“Monster”, “monstrosity” and “monstrous” have traditionally been used as pejorative terms, suggesting an ‘imaginary creature that is typically large, ugly, and frightening’, ‘an inhumanly cruel or wicked person’, ‘a person, typically a child, who is rude or badly behaved’, ‘a thing or animal that is excessively or dauntingly large’ or ‘a congenitally malformed or mutant animal or plant’ (see The New Oxford Dictionary of English) – whether a person with sexually ambiguous genitals, a person with growth disorders, or a hybrid animal. Monsters, monstrosities and the monstrous are therefore seen to disrupt the normal boundaries of size, shape or morality.
Historically, the dynamic meaning of the monstrous is ambiguous. In medieval and renaissance times monsters emerged from immoral acts, signs of God’s wrath against human sin, and whilst standing against nature they lived amongst ordinary beings. In early modern times, monsters were part of the natural order but excluded from participation in mainstream society, often incarcerated in hospitals and asylums or cast as freak show performers. In contemporary modern times, the monstrous occupies the margins of both nature and society, receiving limited attention in mainstream science whilst being frequently mobilized as a rhetorical device in branding, advertising and the news media and as a core theme in the production of popular culture by the entertainment industry. Headlines invoke excessive acts and opportunities such as Enron’s ‘Monster Mess’ (Fortune, 2001) and job seekers upload their CVs on Moviegoers flock to watch the superhuman strengths of Spiderman or X-Men, and reality television peeks into the unruly fits of ‘Bridezillas’, the ‘Monster Quest’ for ‘giant squids’, and the everyday troubles of conjoined twins and transsexuals. The term “monster”, then, presents opportunities for spectacle and discrimination, yet the monstrous is politically important to surface, challenge and undo difference and its abjection. To bring about an ethical engagement with organization and the management of difference and diversity requires us to embody the monstrous rather than to voyeurize monstrosity, to physically and viscerally feel and experience the ‘uncertainty of strange encounters’ (Shildrick, 2002: 7). 
During the past couple of decades, research in the humanities and social sciences have problematized the pejorative connotations of monsters, monstrosities and the monstrous (Thanem, 2011). Such approaches have rethought what has long been considered grotesque into a body politic that troubles norms and provokes difference and abjection to subvert. Kristeva’s writing on horror (1982) reminds us that it is through extremity and abjection that transgression becomes possible and that the monstrous is conventionally cast in opposition to orderliness, organization and organizing. Female monsters (Braidotti, 1994) such as vampires, Medusa and succubi evoke horror, abjection and extremity through the exaggerated transgression of the feminine – often with female beauty and seductiveness being seen as the source of monstrosity. The excessive maternal body heterogeneously couples mother and child (e.g. Halberstam, 1995; Russell, 2000; Shildrick, 2002; Ussher, 2006) and disrupts organizational spaces (Longhurst, 2001).
While feminist writings reveal the female body as leaky, vulnerable and grotesque, science and technology studies have proposed asociology of monsters pre-occupied with the multiple memberships of individuals and the heterogeneous couplings between humans and machines (Law, 1991). Further, organization studies have cast “hopeful monsters” as a counterpoint to bureaucracy (Du Gay, 1994) and viewed rational calculation as a monstrous discipline (Clegg, 2005), the possibility of research as monstrous knowledge (Rhodes, 2001), and the monstrous as a matter of distortion, subversion and undecidability (Bloomfield and Vurdubakis, 1999).
There is little doubt, then, that the monstrous remains a powerful metaphor for difference, deviance, boundary disruption and heterogeneity in natural, social and organizational life – and one that can be employed both oppressively and affirmatively. In this call, we invite papers that interrogate how the monstrous relates to issues of equality, difference, diversity, inclusion and exclusion. Although the monstrous may be associated with immoral practices that reduce or exclude the prospects for equality, diversity and inclusion in organizations, we are also concerned with the prospects for a positively monstrous understanding of organizations – how organizations may become positively monstrous by becoming increasingly diverse and inclusive.
This special issue therefore seeks to publish papers that address issues including (but not limited to):
-          Monstrous aspects of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, (dis)ability and other diversity factors in organizational life; monstrous, abject, freak and excess bodies and identities and their alienation, exclusion and inclusion in organizations.
-          Monstrously im/moral business practices, monstrous ethics in organizations; diversity management practices as negatively and positively monstrous.
-          Monstrosity, resistance, liberation and the debasing of cultural norms in organizations; mutants and mutant organizational cultures.
-          Monstrous couplings between humans, machines, animals and microorganisms in organizations.
-          The representation of monsters in small and big business entertainment industries; the grotesque and the carnivalesque, vulgarity, spectacles and fetishization in organizations.
-          Monstrous ontology, theory, knowledge and politics of organizational life.
Complete papers should be sent to both guest editors by March 31, 2012. Please contact the guest editors if you wish to discuss an idea or proposal for a paper. Email Alison on [email protected] or Torkild on [email protected]

Submission guidelines are available on:  

May 15, 2011: Call for papers issued
March 31, 2012: Submission of full papers
June 30, 2012: Editorial decision
2012: Anticipated publication of the special issue