A workshop exploring how life is managed, commodified and objectified Tuesday March 4, 2008.
Munk Centre 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? Why do we count the death of a Canadian soldier instead of the life of an Afghani civilian? Does life matter differently in laboratories than it does in the community? Does life matter more in the hospital room than it does on the battlefields of Iraq?
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.
Our workshop will provide a forum for graduate students researching questions concerning the politics of life and death. These frameworks are ones that, broadly speaking, seek to chart the ways in which the management of life and living beings is central to political projects and economic strategies. Attention to the politics of life and of death is a theoretical perspective used by scholars across various
disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to address issues such as the production of economic and political inequality, the relationships between health and politics, the creation of marginalised populations, and the relationship between gender, class, and race. In order to understand the multiple ways in which human populations and living beings are represented and governed by political and economic projects, a dialogue that crosses cultural and
disciplinary boundaries is crucial.
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. 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
email@example.com by January 22nd, 2007.
We will get back to all applicants by January 30th, 2008.
Life and Death Conference Organizers
University of Toronto
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