Below are three sample stream proposals. You can find a full archive of accepted streams on the past conferences page.
Sample stream proposal 1: The Soul at Work and in Debt (2013)
Stream organiser: Gregory J. Seigworth
Deleuze, following Spinoza, remarks that one should be concerned not with saving the soul but, rather, finding ways that a soul might live, finding ways that souls might gather up connections and encounters that come to compose a larger movement in common. What pathways and new combinations exist for the soul in this current moment? How are particular pathways being thwarted while others are opened up? In an age where the social field is saturated by brutally economizing logics of every sort, this stream attempts to address how two of the more dominant modes of subjectivation (soul-jectivation) have come to bleed into each other in intricately complex ways: namely, labor and debt.
As Marx foresaw in his Grundrisse, these shifting ontologies around debt and labor have largely transpired through the rise of new forms of technology or machinery and through the mobilization the ‘general intellect’. Further, as Marx knew too, the workings of finance capital and the extension of credit serve the interests of social capital so well that they are always poised to exploit the deep-seated moralities that swirl around conditions of indebtedness. Recently, Maurizio Lazzarato, in his Making of the Indebted Man, notes that “debt is an economic relation which, in order to exist, implies the molding and control of subjectivity such that ‘labor’ becomes indistinguishable from ‘work on the self’” (p.33). Drawing then from this combination of forces and factors – the role of the technological and machinic, the pathologies and pathways of the collective brain and subjectified soul, and the mobilization of moralities and sensibilities, the presentations of this stream will, with varying emphases, engage with the contemporary matter of the soul caught up in (or caught out of) work and otherwise subsumed in credit-debt relationships.
Papers submitted to this stream could touch upon any of the following topics & questions:
Debt and finance capital
Labor (especially with the advent of affective/immaterial labor) and the problem of work
Moralization and economization
Machines and/of human-nonhuman relationalities around debt and labor practices
Subjectivation and formal/real subsumption of life processes
The affective visceralities of flourishing and austerity that shape potential counteractions
How does the evolution of ubiquitous and pervasive technologies transform the ways we think of resistance (to the present), especially as regards subjectivity, collectivity, etc?
Finally, consider that Deleuze’s brief remarks on ‘control society’ are now more than twenty years old. Among a host of things, he talks about the brain and new ‘cerebral pathways’ (in the interview ‘Control and Becoming’ with Antonio Negri) and, in his ‘Postscript’ essay, about the fate of trade unions and ‘man in debt’ (no longer man confined). What has changed about the status of labor and/or debt in such a conceptualization today (now 20 years down the road)? What might critical attention to the brain and/or some notion of the soul bring to such discussions?
Sample stream proposal 2: Beyond Identity and Critique (2013)
An Emerging Theoretical Framework
Stream organiser: Riccardo Baldissone
In the course of the last fifty years, Nietzsche’s construction of Western thought as a series of recastings of Platonic metaphysics oriented the theoretical work of key authors such as Deleuze, Foucault, Derrida and Latour. On the one hand, this construction questions the logic of identity and it reframes conceptual entities in terms of processes and differential relations. On the other hand, these Nietzsche-inspired approaches do not simply replace rigid conceptual structures with more flexible ones, but they challenge the very framework of representation. Hence, they exceed the horizon of modern thought, both as objective naturalism, and as the Kantian reformulation of theological universality (and predetermination) in terms of transcendental conditions of possibility.
By going beyond the boundaries of representation, these authors allow us to expose modern philosophical and scientific naturalism as the last metaphysical attempt to reveal how things stand. On the contrary, theoretical operators such as Simondon’s disparation, Deleuze’s difference, Derrida’s différance, Latour’s irreduction and the more specific Foucauldian subjectification, all provide us with tools for temporarily ordering reality, without recurring to a predetermined set of conditions, structures or schemes.
In more general terms, the ongoing neo-Nietzschean shift from Being to Becoming does not only invite us to radically transform the objects of theoretical activities from entities to processes: it also acknowledges that these very objects, however construed, should not be severed from the practices of their production. As this acknowledgment also shifts the theoretical focus from the objects of knowledge to their processes of production, it bypasses critique’s claim of a less obstructed view of its objects, and it opens towards a multiplicity of theoretical practices, which do not necessarily have to converge towards the best possible representation of things.
In turn, the recognition of the performative power of enunciations (and not classical idealism’s imaginary priority of theory) blurs the boundary between words and things, and grounds the political claim of the engagement of theoretical practices in the manufacturing of reality.
Papers in this stream would ideally focus on last fifty years’ theoretical attempts to overcome the constraints of metaphysics in its modern recasting.
Contributors may want to address the work of authors such as Serres, Simondon, Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari, Derrida, Latour, Stiegler and Agamben as the expression of an emerging theoretical framework beyond the horizon of identity and critique. In particular, papers could compare the negative stance of critique with affirmative and propositive approaches such as Latour’s composition and Stiegler’s positive pharmacology.
Papers may also explore the influence of Nietzsche on recent and contemporary theoretical perspectives. Genealogical contributions to the overturning of Platonism would be welcome.
Sample stream proposal 3: On representation/Non-representation (2013)
Stream organisers: Matt Mahon and Sam Wilson
The centrality of representation to critical thought – both in terms of representational practices and claims to unrepresentability – is well documented. Its embedding in critical theory permits the branching of representation as a concept-metaphor into aesthetic, philosophical, theoretical and political practices.
Representation is a transdisciplinary concept and, as such, thinking through these practices can allow us to address issues of power and criticality. The historical, material and technological conditions by which representation is problematised is a pertinent issue. What does it mean to be against or beyond representation? We might think of how we ascribe unspeakability and unrepresentability to spaces – spaces uncaptured by cartography, or figurative ‘places’ such as the intangible and immediate aspects of aesthetic experiences, the Lacanian Real or Kristeva’s chora. What is permitted to be represented – in an identitarian sense (Butler’s Precarious Life) as well as in ontological or sensible terms – can lead us to think the power implications of such circumscriptions.
We should also ask how we might engage in work that aims to operate, practise and perform without representation. Object-oriented and speculative ontology which rejects the primacy of human access to objects; Deleuzian critique of representation as recognition and identity; non-representational artistic practices; DeLanda’s critique of extensive relations between concepts; the non-representational theory of Tarde and Thrift: all are attempts to go beyond representation in practice as well as to define the terms of unrepresentability. The problem of writing theory with an aim to move beyond correlation and access is also a pressing concern for this stream.
Papers which engage with these problems of representation and non-representation are welcomed, including (but not limited to) the following topics:
The history of non- and un-representational thought
The historical, material, or technological conditions through which representation is problematised
Non-representation and empiricism
Defence of representational thought
Power and the political implications of non-representation
Language and unspeakability
Performing or practising against representation.