MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH
A workshop exploring how life is managed, commodified and objectified
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Hart House at the University of Toronto
An interdisciplinary group of graduate students at the University of Toronto is organizing "Matters of Life and Death" in order to grapple with key questions on the theoretical horizon in many disciplines: What constitutes life and how is this life managed, commodified, and objectified? Is there a politics of life? Where does life stop and death begin?
Building from, yet moving beyond, Foucault's biopolitics and biopower and Marx's materialist view of life within the structures of labour and value, this workshop will grapple with questions that theoretically and materially categorize 'life'. While a political project around death seems implausible, the definition of good, healthy, and wealthy lives is always in continuous distinction from those who are allowed to die or suffer. Hence, life and the politics of life is not easily defined or solidified into concrete expressions/formations/variables. As a result, we welcome an expansive series of topics and disciplines and we hope to foster diverse, supportive, and critical engagements with the politics of life and death. From populations to bodies, bio-capital to cyborgs, brine shrimp to urban decay, resistance to regulation, immigration to securitization, inquiries will explore the politics of life.
We invite scholars who find the tensions and spaces between Marx and Foucault to be creative and productive areas of exploration. Is Foucault's analysis of bio-politics materially sound? Can it help scholars theoretically and empirically today? How can we view life both as a biopolitical project and as an expression of surplus value? Did Marx purposefully bypass the problematic of governmental control of bodies? What current or historical sites, objects or discourses can be identified that illuminate or embody these tensions?
Graduate students from a wide array of disciplines are invited to participate in this workshop. We especially welcome those who seek to investigate a similar problem from divergent analytic perspectives. Life is not easily categorized and thus academic approaches are not either. In bringing together different voices to explore the politics of life we ask the following questions:
What constitutes life as the basis of a political/critical/progressive project?
What is the relationship between capitalism, regulation and the State?
What is the relationship between the macro/population and the micro/genetic?
How are illness, disease and natural disasters related to the control of populations?
How are developments in the life sciences related to the management of populations?
How is the value of life determined?
Abstracts of 250 words and a short CV should be submitted to
firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, November 30, 2007.
We will get back to all applicants by January 5, 2008.
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