Revelations evoke strong claims to sudden and surprising knowledge, and often marked consternation and concern. By closely examining instances of revelation we can learn about the negotiations and values involved in ‘coming in contact with what’s really going on’, with the ‘now-undeniable truth’.

The Tema T’s research group ‘Values’ organized an international workshop on ‘Revelation!’ on 7/8 April 2016. Its aim was to get a close handle on what counts and works as revelation/concealment across a range of areas. Five papers treated revelation on stage and in film, in public responses to historical events, and in the work of those who make a living promising to ‘crack’ what is obscure to others.

Analytical themes included the way ‘seeing’ is placed in relation to revelation, the drama and affect of revelation, the temporality of revelation, and the ways revelation does its ‘other’: the secret, the unknown, the nobody, etc.  Across papers, workshop participants engaged with questions such as: What work does revelation as a concept do – or fail to do – in different empirical cases? How do we wittingly or unwittingly participate in revelation when we study it? What are the politics and ethics of research on/with revelation?

Papers presented

Revelations and Concealments in Conjuring, Wally Smith, University of Melbourne

Discords on the Moon, Brian Rappert, University of Exeter, Catelijne Coopmans, National University of Singapore

Enginology: Revealing and Concealing the Unknowable in Search Engine Optimization, Malte Ziewitz, Cornell University

‘A Drama of Recognition’: City Lights and Celebrity, Mandy Merck, Royal Holloway University, London

Jimmy Savile and the Situated Dynamics of Revelation, Steve Woolgar, Linköping University and University of Oxford


Commentators and discussants included: Lisa Guntram (Linköping), CF Helgesson (Linköping), Ericka Johnson (Linköping), Corinna Kruse (Linköping), Thokozani Kamwendo (Edinburgh), Tanja Schneider (St Gallen, Switzerland) and Kristin Zeiler (Linköping)

Organizers: Steve Woolgar (Linköping University) and Catelijne Coopmans (National University of Singapore)