CFP: [Science] CFP Matters of Life and Death Conference

full name / name of organization: 
Vasuki Shanmuganathan
contact email:

A workshop exploring how life is managed, commodified and objectified

Thursday, March 6, 2008
Hart House at the University of Toronto

An interdisciplinary group of graduate students at the University of
Toronto is organizing "Matters of Life and Death" in order to grapple
with key questions on the theoretical horizon in many disciplines: What
constitutes life and how is this life managed, commodified, and
objectified? Is there a politics of life? Where does life stop and death

Building from, yet moving beyond, Foucault's biopolitics and biopower and
Marx's materialist view of life within the structures of labour and
value, this workshop will grapple with questions that theoretically and
materially categorize 'life'. While a political project around death
seems implausible, the definition of good, healthy, and wealthy lives is
always in continuous distinction from those who are allowed to die or
suffer. Hence, life and the politics of life is not easily defined or
solidified into concrete expressions/formations/variables. As a result,
we welcome an expansive series of topics and disciplines and we hope to
foster diverse, supportive, and critical engagements with the politics of
life and death. From populations to bodies, bio-capital to cyborgs, brine
shrimp to urban decay, resistance to regulation, immigration to
securitization, inquiries will explore the politics of life.

We invite scholars who find the tensions and spaces between Marx and
Foucault to be creative and productive areas of exploration. Is
Foucault's analysis of bio-politics materially sound? Can it help
scholars theoretically and empirically today? How can we view life both
as a biopolitical project and as an expression of surplus value? Did
Marx purposefully bypass the problematic of governmental control of
bodies? What current or historical sites, objects or discourses can be
identified that illuminate or embody these tensions?

Graduate students from a wide array of disciplines are invited to
participate in this workshop. We especially welcome those who seek to
investigate a similar problem from divergent analytic perspectives. Life
is not easily categorized and thus academic approaches are not either. In
bringing together different voices to explore the politics of life we ask
the following questions:

What constitutes life as the basis of a political/critical/progressive
What is the relationship between capitalism, regulation and the State?
What is the relationship between the macro/population and the
How are illness, disease and natural disasters related to the control of
How are developments in the life sciences related to the management of
How is the value of life determined?

Abstracts of 250 words and a short CV should be submitted to by Friday, November 30, 2007.

We will get back to all applicants by January 5, 2008.

For more information please check out our website:

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Received on Mon Oct 29 2007 - 10:56:37 EST

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