N-Determination and Critical Practices of Resistance [March 12-13, 2015]

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University of California - Irvine, Department of Comparative Literature Graduate Students

"N-Determination and Critical Practices of Resistance"
UC Irvine March 12-13 (Thursday and Friday)

The department of Comparative Literature at the University of California – Irvine invites submissions to our 2015 graduate conference, "Alterity, N-Determination, and Critical Practices of Resistance." Sparked by a renewed interest in the problem of determination as a central problematic for thought, we invite proposals that consider political, theoretical, and genealogical approaches to exploring determinism. In this tradition we draw connections to the Phenomenological problem of the Other as determining object for consciousness of the self and the world, to the uses of the concept of Over-determination in both the Psychoanalytic and Marxist traditions, and to the questions of sovereignty and political agency implicit in the call for Self-determination. More recently, both the Afro-Pessimist theory of Frank Wilderson and the Non-Philosophical theory of François Laruelle have grounded themselves in the critique of determining relations. Afro-Pessimism attempts to think the positionality of the Black-as-Slave through a model of "determination in the first instance" while Laruellean Non-Philosophy models its "science of philosophy" on the concept of "Determination-in-the-Last-Instance": "a causality exerted upon philosophy itself qua experience-form of the World and upon the universal neomatic structures or the theoretical knowledge that is unleashed by [Non-Philosophy] from this material" (Dictionary of Non-Philosophy).

How can we think determination as it plays through these manifold associations? Who (or what) is granted agential status in the process of determination? What is the relationship between determination's first and last instances? What are the ethical implications of a determining relation? Can we envision a relation that is non-determining? How can we theorize indeterminacy? How is alterity productive of or produced by determination? Is "cruelty" as Deleuze famously wrote in Difference and Repetition, "nothing but determination as such?" Can we imagine a determination that is otherwise than cruel?

With such a preliminary focus, we would like to invite graduate students working across humanities, arts and social science disciplines to submit papers that address the problem of determination as a problem with/for thought. Possible topics include:

  • Intercultural and global literature and film challenging constructions of the Other and the Self
  • The role of overdetermination in Psychoanalytic or Marxist theories of identity construction
  • The problem of overdetermination as undermining theories of self-fashoning
  • The relationship between self-determination and sovereignty in theories of international politics and law
  • The status of indeterminacy as a means for thinking against determination
  • The role of scientific determination in thinking through colonial anthropology
  • The role of the underground and the avante guarde in thinking against determination
  • The theoretical and political costs and benefits of thinking differences as overdetermined

Please submit abstracts for individual presentations of no more than 300 words. Be sure to include your name and institutional affiliation. Abstracts are due by January 30th, 2015, submitted to NDeterminationConference@gmail.com. Some travel funds may be available for the participants.