Merleau-Ponty and Embodiment: Between the Cognitive, Aesthetic, and Socio-Political


Dec 4th – Dec 6th 2023 | Deakin University, Melbourne (Narrm), Australia | In-person and virtual (hybrid)

“Le corps est notre moyen général d’avoir un monde. / The body is our general means of having a world.”

Merleau-Ponty’s seminal work on embodiment has been of enduring interest and influence in a wide range of fields. It has, for example, played a significant role in research on embodied cognition and enactivism, subjectivity and intersubjectivity, affectivity, movement, art, place, and more. Although sometimes criticized for providing an account of embodiment that is too general, Merleau-Ponty’s philosophical foregrounding of embodiment has also facilitated critical phenomenological studies attending to the specificities of how particular bodies inhabit social and political environments, through considerations of race, gender, disability, aging, and illness. This year’s meeting of the IMPC seeks to bring together these rich and varied strands of enquiry, in order to think with, against, and beyond Merleau-Ponty’s own contributions on the lived body.

Only its third time outside North America, this year’s meeting of IMPC will take place in Melbourne (Narrm), Australia, on the traditional and unceded lands of the Kulin Nation. The conference is being directed by Helen Ngo and Jack Reynolds, with support from Andrew Inkpin and others. Keynote and plenary speakers will be announced shortly. The conference will be held at the centrally located and accessible Deakin Downtown campus, and recommended accommodation options will be provided nearer the date.

Full paper submissions of no more than 3,500 words should be prepared for anonymous review and sent to both the conference directors at and with the subject heading “IMPC submission” by June 12, 2023. As is custom, submissions on any aspect of Merleau-Ponty’s work, in addition to the conference theme, are also welcome.

This year’s conference will include a thematic stream on Race, place, and bodies curated by Helen Ngo for a research project funded by the Australian Research Council (DE220100329). A small number of bursaries will be available for students and unwaged early career researchers presenting in-person in this stream. Participants wishing to be considered for this are asked to indicate so on the cover letter of your submission.

The conference features the M. C. Dillon prize and lecture for the best graduate student paper submission. To be considered for this prize, please indicate so on the cover letter of your submission. This year’s conference will also inaugurate a second graduate student prize, the Morstyn prize, which recognizes our late colleague, from Sydney, Australia, Ron Morstyn, who contributed to and attended the IMPC over many years, with special interests in psychology and psychiatry. Details for consideration for this prize will be announced between now and the submission deadline.

Finally, as this conference will be held as a hybrid event, please indicate whether, upon acceptance, you plan to attend in-person or virtually. In order to host the conference at a physical location, a certain percentage of talks will need to be presented in person, and this will be factored in during the anonymous review process. If you plan to attend virtually because doing so physically presents insurmountable accessibility issues (of whatever sort, including economic ones), you are welcome (but not required) to include that information. You are also welcome to include any anticipated accessibility needs, which will greatly assist in planning.

In addition, we are pleased to announce that this year’s conference will also inaugurate a second prize, the Ron Morstyn Memorial Prize. This prize was established, through a generous donation from Gaye Morstyn, to honour Ron’s dedication to phenomenology and its potential for bettering our understanding of the human condition. It is awarded annually, to a graduate student, junior scholar, or independent scholar, for the best interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary paper engaging Merleau-Ponty’s work at the Circle. (To be eligible as a junior scholar, your PhD must have been earned within the last five calendar years.) The prize is presented as both an honor and a monetary award of $1000 USD. If you are eligible for the prize and wish to be considered for it, indicate this in your cover letter when submitting your paper for consideration for the conference. Graduate students with interdisciplinary papers may ask to have their paper considered for both the Morstyn and Dillon prizes. If you have already submitted a paper and wish for it to be considered for this prize, please advise Dr Ngo and Prof Reynolds.

Rethinking Racism through Embodiment and Place

As part of the 47th annual International Merleau-Ponty Circle (IMPC), we warmly invite submissions for a thematic stream exploring questions of racism, place, and embodiment. Interdisciplinary approaches that engage with these themes through phenomenology – critically or otherwise – are most welcome. We especially encourage submissions from First Nations people, people of colour, and other underrepresented groups in Philosophy and the academy more generally.

This stream will be curated by Helen Ngo for a research project funded by the Australian Research Council (DE220100329). A number of travel bursaries will be available for students and unsalaried/low-waged early career researchers (ECRs) presenting in-person in this stream. Full paper submissions of no more than 3,500 words should be prepared for anonymous review and sent to Helen Ngo ( and Ryan Gustafsson ( with the subject heading “IMPC Rethinking Racism submission.” The deadline for submissions is June 12, 2023. See the stream’s CFP for further details.