Apr 13 2016

Risking the Future: Vulnerability, Risk, Hope

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An International Conference on the Risk Humanities

Keynote Speakers: 

Michaeline A. Crichlow (Duke University)

Simon During (University of Queensland)

Walter Mignolo (Duke University)

Risking the Future exposes a tension at the heart of contemporary thinking around risk and its effects, and in particular the role of risk in either blocking or facilitating access to possible futures. On the one hand, the phrase is cautionary, a reminder that the future is at risk and that risks have to be calculated and managed to avoid or learn to live within catastrophic circumstances. On the other hand, the phrase is hopeful, a recognition that a certain type of risk is necessary to generate a speculative opening to a future worth living. In this way, although risk manifests in complex historical and contemporary patterns across the economic, legal, ecological, social, cultural, aesthetic and political spheres, it is most urgently felt where the exercise and effects of power are tied to potential loss and gain, and where these losses and gains shape the lives of those least able to resist them.

In this light, rethinking the relation of risk and futurity suggests a tension between the calculation, management and adoption of risk on one hand, and what it actually means to live a life at risk on the other. For those living in fragile circumstances – situations in which race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion and poverty intersect in ways that render existence itself radically vulnerable; situations in which it is increasingly difficult to avoid or resist political instability, conflict, economic precarity, health crises, and ecological catastrophe – the question of risk exists at a very different intensity, and has very different implications than it does for individuals, groups and even whole societies who regard risk principally in terms of its calculation, distribution and management undertaken to guarantee continued flourishing, often in the very systems that place the vulnerable  at risk.

 We seek to bring these two paradigms of risk – of calculation and precarity – into conversation, perhaps necessarily into conflict, in order to challenge existing discourses regarding risk and its relation to the future. We seek to explore the ways in which thought might take risks in order to realign itself with those most at risk. We seek to open new and risky avenues for speculative, interdisciplinary research, reimagining the way in which risk thinking might turn an increasingly threatening vision of the future towards a politics of hope.

 We warmly invite you to submit a title and abstract of 300 words for papers of 20 minutes rethinking risk and its relation to the future from the perspective of the critical humanities and humanistic social sciences. Please include a brief biographical note of up to 200 words outlining your broader research interests.

 The deadline for the submission of abstracts is 18 April 2016 and should be emailed to fragile.futures@gmail.com.

 Suggested topics:

  • Risk and futurity: uncertainty, contingency, irreversibility, possibility
  • Fragility, vulnerability, precarity and the precariat
  • Hope, resistance, commitment
  • Kinopolitics: displacement, migration, perilous crossings, border thinking
  • Spaces of risk: thresholds, boundaries, containment, camps
  • Decolonial aesthetics and politics
  • Aesthetics of risk: representing, mediating and performing the future
  • Freedom and unfreedom: open futures, blocked futures
  • Existential risk: threat, conflict, poverty, disposability
  • Accumulation by dispossession: capitalism and risk, risking capitalism
  • Markets: distribution, flow, asymmetry, crisis
  • Sexualities, genders, queer ecologies, queer futures
  • Systemic edges: peripheries of/at risk, belonging and non-belonging, inclusion and exclusion
  • Ecologies of/at risk: environmental anxiety, slow violence, ruination, catastrophe
  • Histories and futures of risk: opportunity, intervention, invention, reinvention

St John’s College

Durham University

12th-13th July 2016


Oct 2 2015

Andrea Rossi on Foucault

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The Labour of Subjectivity: Foucault on Biopolitics, Economy, Critique

(Futures of the Archive, Rowman and Littlefield International)

Michel Foucault defined critique as an exercise in de-subjectivation. To what extent did this claim shape his philosophical practice? What are its theoretical and ethical justifications? Why did Foucault come to view the production of subjectivity as a key site of political and intellectual emancipation in the present? Andrea Rossi pursues these questions in The Labour of Subjectivity. The book re-examines the genealogy of the politics of subjectivity that Foucault began to outline in his lectures at the Collège de France in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He explores Christian confession, raison d’état, biopolitics and bioeconomy as the different technologies by which Western politics has attempted to produce, regulate and give form to the subjectivity of its subjects. Ultimately Rossi argues that Foucault’s critical project can only be comprehended within the context of this historico-political trajectory, as an attempt to give the extant politics of the self a new horizon.

Endorsements:

Through an in-depth and skillful presentation of Foucault’s work, Andrea Rossi traces the genealogy of governmentality in the problematic relation between the subject and the norm, action and freedom, power and knowledge. His analysis offers a rigorous and original interpretation of the great Foucauldian themes of biopolitics, economy and the formation of modern subjectivity.

— Roberto Esposito, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore, Italy

Everyone who thinks they have a secure and incisive grasp of the philosophical, ethical and political implications of Foucault on subjectivity should test their presuppositions by reading Andrea Rossi’s book. His innovative investigation is philosophically profound, ethically sensitive, and politically astute. Based on impressive close reading and full of quotable sentences, the book should be consulted whenever one wants to evoke Foucault on the historical production of subjectivity, on bio-political economy, on technologies of power, and on the particularities of the politics of the present.

– Michael J. Shapiro, Professor of Political Science, University of Hawaii

Andrea Rossi is a Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Koc University, Turkey.


Jun 8 2015

Futures of the Archive: Theory, Criticism, Crisis

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A new book series from Rowman and Littlefield International in partnership with the Northern Theory School

Edited by Arthur Bradley (Lancaster University) and Simon Swift (University of Geneva)

What will be the future of critical theory’s past? This new series offers a set of radical interdisciplinary interventions which explore how the history of critical theory can contribute to an understanding of the contemporary.

By returning to classic critical debates in philosophy, politics, aesthetics, religion and more, the volumes in this series seek to provide a new insight into the crises of our present moment: capitalism, revolution, biopolitics, human rights, the animal and the anthropocene.

In this way, Futures of the Archive shows that the past – and in particular critical theory’s own past – is not a dead letter, but an archive to which we still belong and which continues to shape our present and future.

International Advisory Board: 

Robert Appelbaum (University of Uppsala)

Howard Caygill (Kingston University)

Terry Eagleton (Lancaster University)

Paul Hamilton (Queen Mary, University of London)

J. Hillis Miller (University of California at Irvine)

Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent)

Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of East Anglia)

Rei Terada (University of California at Irvine)

Samuel Weber (Northwestern University)

In order to discuss or propose a submission, please contact Arthur Bradley and Simon Swift.