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2009-05-06 13:47:39
Call for papers

The Politics of Life: Michel Foucault and the Biopolitics of Modernity
Södertörn University College, Stockholm
September 3-5, 2009

Confirmed Speakers
Thomas Lemke
Maurizio Lazzarato
Julian Reid
Boris Groys
Catherine Mills
Johanna Oksala
Frédéric Gros
Vikki Bell

Ever since the concepts of biopolitics and biopower appeared in the
first volume of Michel Foucaults The History of Sexuality in 1976, they
have continued to provoke responses. In 1976 Foucault picks up themes
already developed in Discipline and Punish, and describes a shift in the
structure of power that takes us from the epoch of sovereignty, in which
the right of the ruler is to take life or let live, to the modern conception of
power as a way to enhance, render productive, compose, maximize, and
administer life. In some respects this is an undeniable progress toward a
more humane world, but, as Foucault underlines, it also leads to a
biological conception of politics. To exterminate the enemy, to expel the
degenerate, the enemy of the people or the class from the social body in
order to attain purity‹all of this will become possible precisely because
the body politic comes to be perceived as a living entity that must be
attended to, and not just a source of disturbances that must be repressed.
Foucaults research, which soon came to graft the concept of biopolitics
onto the idea of a specifically modern idea of governmentality, and
then to the idea of apparatus of security all of which also constitutes a
self-critique with respect to the earlier disciplinary model‹has been
a major source of inspiration for philosophy, political science and gender
studies, as well as in bioethics and analyses of security apparatuses and
techniques of surveillance. Foucaults ideas have been critically extended
in highly diverse ways, often taking them far beyond their initial
formulations‹all of which indicate the extent to which thinking with,
through, beyond and perhaps also against the questions posed by Foucault
has proved to be a fertile ground for research.
The conference takes its point of departure in the work of Foucault, but
seeks to gather researchers from all relevant fields in assessing the
applicability of his thought to the present, which undoubtedly also means
to envisage the possibility of different and alternative futures. It offers a
limited space for presentations of ongoing research (approximately 20
non-invited papers will be accepted). Sessions will be organized primarily
around the following three general topics:

A) Body, gender, individuation
How has the question of biopolitics transformed the conceptualization of
subjectivity, desire, and sexuality? How should we understand the processes
of subject formation and of subjectivation in contemporary societies,
in which medical and other technologies have come to increasingly determine
our ideas of selfhood? What are the political and ethical issues involved in
such an ongoing redefinition of subjectivity?

B) Surveillance, security, control
To what extent are Foucaults analyses of surveillance and security
apparatuses applicable today? Have we entered into asociety of control
(Deleuze), and if so, what are the challenges for current political theory
and for the idea of resistance and for insurgent practices? What kind of
techniques are today employed to survey, generate security, and control?

C) Architecture, urbanism, and the ordering of space
How should we understand biopolitics in architecture and urban space? Are
emancipatory architectures and urbanisms possible, in a situation in which,
as Hardt and Negri claim, the Metropolis has replaced the Factory as a
spatial paradigm? Can the concept of heterotopia be useful for the
development of spatial and urban strategies?

Send in your abstract of maximum 200 words, including information of
affiliation and degree major to:
Deadline for abstract is May 15.
You will receive notice of acceptance/rejection by June 10.
If you wish to participate and not present a paper, it is also possible to
register already now to the address above.
Conference participation is free of charge.

The conference is generously sponsored by the Baltic Sea Foundation and
Södertörn University College.

For more information, contact Sven-Olov Wallenstein
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