CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Closes October 29, 2021
Ignorance is Bliss: Denial, Deceit, and Doubt in The Age of Agnosis

Thematic Background - is Ignorance Bliss?

When those with power and privilege perpetrate harms against society, often the victims are left unaware or at least uncertain about the source of their harms; sometimes, the most vulnerable are not even aware that they have been harmed. Whether one is breathing in toxic emissions, experiencing workplace disadvantage, sleeping in a not-for-profit shelter, or unable to receive enough schooling to be employable, often the source of experienced harms is beyond the scope of attribution. In some cases, those most harmed continue their lives unabated, unaware that institutional forces have predetermined their options. This lack of awareness of the sources of one’s socio-political or socio-economic context could be described as ignorance. Persons living under such conditions may appear to be unfazed, and even may seem to be better off in not critically examining the source of their oppressions.


But is ignorance truly bliss? Or is ignorance pernicious? Do socio-political and socio-economic systems and contexts coalesce to oppress vulnerable persons? Do they also form a rhizomatic substratum to form an assemblage of blissful oppression or deflective knowledge (or agnosis)? We have lived through recent world events which seem to suggest that masses of persons living in “liberal” societies, in some cases, lack, or in other cases choose to lack, and even deflect, metaphysical objectivity:  conceptions of contexts essential to the very idea of truth are subconsciously and sometimes, through active actualization of the self, undergirding this assemblage of agnosis.  


In this manuscript, we seek to unpack the sources of oppression and management that coalesce in the human experience of coerced, forced, and self-activated ignorance whether through institutional, corporate, systemic, ideological, political apposition or synergistic agonism.  


An Invitation to Explore

We invite submissions for contributions to an edited collection, drawing together scholars from multiple, disciplinary fronts including sociology, politics, law, philosophy, psychology, and interdisciplinary approaches to help bring coherence to the conceptions of an assemblage of agnosis. Our edited collection will seek to cohere the conception that persons and groups in our social world are forced, coerced, or through responsibilization (by means of implication or interpretive denial) to come to, in some cases, embrace the absence of metaphysical objectivity. These processes are normalized through specific cultural and social mechanisms to form this assemblage.

Our focus is an examination of the ways in which persons find themselves in social spaces without empirical clarity, and understand or experience that absence as satisfaction, stability or perhaps, in states of exception, even pleasure. Our intention is to explore how human victimization and power intersects by and through the systematic orchestration of forced or selected ignorance and doubt upon daily human life and the resultant understanding of metaphysical objectivity at the personal level.


Modern Contexts Merit a Study of Agnosis

Certainly, the condition of the United States political system in the aftermath of its 2020  election is one such example of how empirical paucity can breed socio-political contentment or resistance. Either could lead to mobilization of sentiments of resolution and relief by partisans. The same phenomenon is present in terms of the Canadian criminal justice system whereby some citizens may view their relative safety as a sign of the system’s efficacy notwithstanding the empirical realities – for example that there is over-incarceration of Indigenous and other marginalized persons, often these same persons experience intersecting vulnerabilities and face little rehabilitative prospects within the system.  Similarly, movements of resistance that seek more justice for vulnerable persons whether in incidents such as the Gerald Stanley trial or mass movements like Black Live Matters seek justice system deliverables in retributive form, notwithstanding that empirically, little in the way or reform or rehabilitation is plausible in these cases. Other examples include the disappearance of and war on organized labour in the public sector, which is met by public apathy even as critical systems of support are eroded for the populace. Most recently, the anti-vaccination movement in the context of the worldwide pandemic is another acute example of the repercussions of an assemblage of agnosis.

The muting of the ability to digest the empirical is one aspect that merits further study. How has the most historically well-educated populace in the history of our late modern social world become so content in ignoring compelling evidence? How is that same diverse group able to believe that society offers them “the good life”? Has a decline in empirical literacy, and similarly a spiritual claim to social justice movements or conversely, deep conservatism, created theoretical spiritual wars that provide contented solace to enraptured partisans?

Call for Papers and Broad Themes

Therefore, we call for papers internationally to critically reflect on the role of ignorance in governing society through theory and practice, highlighting how agnotology and the late modern human experience in a post WWII human rights era subsumes, subverts, and sublimates the complex relationship between knowledge and denial that may indeed breed complicit bliss.

We encourage reflections on but not limited to:

  • Agnosis and its deployment in elections, politics, labour, criminal justice, health care, or post-secondary education

  • Conceptual frameworks of ‘agnotology’, reflecting on its usefulness to understand ignorance and denial in contemporary times;

  • The philosophies, morals, and ethics of ‘agnotology’, in relation to cross-disciplinary collaborations;

  • The socio-cultural production of ignorance and denial;

  • The political production of ignorance and denial;

  • The legal and illegal production of ignorance and denial;

  • Policy based approaches to ignorance and denial;

  • Implementation of ignorance and denial in education or institutions of higher learning;

  • Case studies or histories of mass agnosis;

  • Socio-legal case reviews of agnosis in practice;

  • Philosophical analyses of agnosis in late modernity;

  • Psychological discourse on the fomentation of societal agnosis;

  • Political case histories of eras of agnosis;

  • Justice and political systemic analysis of agnosis;

  • Any other explication of intersections of and tensions between agnosis and the production of ignorance and denial of interest to researchers.


We encourage contributions from academics, advocates, and practitioners. The word limit for submissions is 6-8,000 words. We estimate Fall 2022 for our completion date.


Timeline for Expressions of Interest and Abstracts


  • Expression of interest for abstracts: please submit a 200-word abstract and 100-word bio to James Gacek or Richard Jochelson by October 29th, 2021 (

  • Notification of abstract acceptance: November 15th, 2021

  • Submission of completed chapters: March 1st, 2022

  • Submission of complete manuscript to press: April 1st, 2022




James Gacek

Dr. James Gacek is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at the University of Regina. He holds his PhD in Criminology from Edinburgh Law School at the University of Edinburgh. He completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He continues to extensively publish in reviews, journals and international fora, particularly in areas of (1) corrections and community justice; (2) green criminology; and (3) the broader socio-politics of judicial reasoning. With Professor Richard Jochelson, he has recently co-authored Criminal Law and Precrime: Legal Studies in Canadian Punishment and Surveillance in Anticipation of Criminal Guilt (2018, Routledge) and co-edited Sexual Regulation and the Law: A Canadian Perspective (2019, Demeter Press).

Richard Jochelson

Dr. Richard Jochelson is a Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of

Manitoba and holds his PhD in law from Osgoode Hall Law School at York University, a

Masters in Law from University of Toronto Law School, and a Law Degree from

University of Calgary Law School (Gold Medal). He is a former law clerk who served his

articling year at the Alberta Court of Appeal and Court of Queen’s Bench, before

working at one of Canada’s largest law firms. He worked for ten years teaching criminal

and constitutional law at the University of Winnipeg prior to joining Robson Hall. A coapplicant on several SSHRC awards, he has published peer-reviewed articles dealing

with obscenity, indecency, judicial activism, police powers, criminal justice pedagogy

and curriculum development, empiricism in criminal law, and conceptions of judicial and jury reasoning. He is a member of the Bar of Manitoba and has co-authored and coedited several books.


Prospective Presses

McGill-Queen’s University Press has expressed interest in a book proposal on this topic. We have several other alternate publishing venues that are possible depending on the degree of open access available. A final venue will be determined on the basis of the contribution and the collective advice of the entire team.