World Picture Conference 2019
2019 World Picture Conference
University of Toronto
November 8-9, 2019
Akira Lippit (USC)
Elizabeth Rottenberg (DePaul University)
The theme of this year’s conference is “value.” It is not for us a question of what we value, but about the nature and the stakes of valuation itself—about what it might mean, at this point in the 21st century, to “revalue and reverse ‘eternal values,’” as Nietzsche once described the task of philosophy (Beyond Good and Evil, §203). How might we understand value, for instance, once we have dispensed with the modern conception of judgement? Can one value, can something have a value, without criteria? Is a radical psychic investment in something more separable from value than judgment? And is the idea of value itself separable from the processes of reification, accumulation, and specification that have thus far made it so fundamental to the racialized logics of capitalism and biocentric dysselection (to borrow a term from Sylvia Wynter)?
However we might answer these questions, we believe that asking them requires that we also consider whether we can intervene in modes of valuation politically without a conception of value in place. So many of the decisions we make and the actions we perform—whether voluntary or involuntary, whether psychic, political, moral, aesthetic, erotic, or all of these things all at once—would seem to follow from a sense, however discontinuous it may at times be, of value. This is true even if we act precisely in order to dispense with a way of being that follows from a mode of valuation. In keeping with this line of consideration, then, we are interested in papers that take on the difficulty of valuation in some way—papers that address the tensions within and across modes and experiences of valuation. For example, when we decide or declare what matters to us—what something is worth, so to speak—the moral or ethical claim that we want to make cannot always be easily separated from financial logics of comparison and exchange. Likewise, in the context of the university, the question of value is as important as it is vexed. At the very same time that the university is becoming decolonized, it is also becoming increasingly subject not only to the corporate logics of valuation that drive it, but to the para-institutional corporations that dictate the truth of these logics in obscurity. Something similar could be said of the modern geopolitical order: the rise of global capital has effectively obliterated the relatively coherent national “economies” of Western imperial power and the resources they once commanded, but the dissemination of economic value that has attended this development has only intensified the economic rationalization of both citizenship and existence more broadly, sparking movements of mass migration, exploitation and environmental ruin that can no longer appeal with much force to the discourses of ethical and moral value that once helped ground them in that same order.
Do we not, then, need to find our way out of the either/or, yes/no understanding of value, lest we assume that all developments emerge from the same source? Is there, to borrow a term from Derrida, an aneconomic value or mode of valuation? We are open to a host of ideas about value: the relation of value to truth and objectivity; forms of aesthetic appreciation that cross into other forms of valuation; value as the unspoken arbiter of interdisciplinary research; valuation as the unspoken arbiter of ontological dysselection; the university as the groundless ground of valuation; and whatever in value else seems worth fighting either for or over to you.
Please send a 250-300 word abstract, with a 5 entry bibliography and a brief bio, to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 15. Notifications will be sent out by August 1.