[Update: Extension: December 15 2009] Future Theory, Present Praxes Interdisciplinary Approaches to Thinking and Acting "Timely"

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University of Guelph
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Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference
University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Friday, February 26th, 2010

Future Theory, Present Praxes
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Thinking and Acting "Timely"

"The affirmation of the future to come: this is not a positive thesis. It is nothing other than the affirmation itself, the "yes," insofar as it is the condition of all promises or of all hope, of all awaiting, or all performativity, of all opening toward the future, whatever it may be..."
Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever

"When resistance ceases to appear on the central stage of historical development ...and is relegated on the contrary to a marginal, synchronic, and transversal dimension, we can no longer perceive an idea of potency (puissance), a position of antagonism or an instance of liberation. Apparently, the only solution remains the star of redemption or that of messianic time. As for us, we refuse to return to the fleeting shadows of that desperate generation."
Antonio Negri, The Porcelain Workshop

The aim of this graduate conference is to investigate the diverse ways in which concepts and ideas surrounding "the future" infuse modern and contemporary cultural production and instigate critiques and analyses of present situations. In a time of radical breaks and paradigm shifts, what constitutes the present is not marked by ontological certainties, but remains part of an "unfinished project," a shifting discursive space of translation and transformation that, as Frederic Jameson explains, "...concentrate[s] a promise within a present of time and [offers] a way of possessing the future more immediately within that present itself" (A Singular Modernity).

If our present is so bound up with desire and anxiety for the future, does this enable or inhibit our abilities to implement change? Does waiting for a messianic radical alterity to come position the future as a transcendental ideal and limit the potency of the global multitude as Negri suggests? Or does the open-endedness such a concept espouses serve as a necessary model for a postmodernity that refuses and critiques the simplistic and dangerous assumption that narratives and identities can be fixed and knowable?

The tension between future orientations and present activity calls forth questions such as: how does the future inscribe itself into theoretical and artistic discourse as a transcendental ideal, or as imminent arrival? How exactly have ideas about futurity been articulated and by/for/to whom? What sorts of praxes do we encounter at the limits of critical thinking and what thresholds do they open so that we may actively participate in the shaping of a present? How do we negotiate our individual and collective pasts with the immanent arrival of what is to come? What kinds of minoritarian/counter futures have been/can be articulated and do they resist the normative boundaries of end-based thinking or promulgate their own teleologies?

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:
• Derrida and the ethics of the "perhaps"
• subjunctive identities (national, gendered, political)
• eco-aesthetics and geopolitics
• the past in the future: memory and nostalgia in cultural production
• borderlands prophecy
• conspiracy narratives and apocalyptic fictions
• imagined/imagining communities
• novelty and the commodification of newness
• dystopias/utopias and science fiction: the archaeologies of the future
• the contingency of change and hope: from Barack to Zizek

To propose a paper, please submit a cover page with your name, institutional affiliation, contact information (mailing address, phone number and email), and a 250 word abstract of the paper. Presentations will be limited to twenty minutes.
Keynote Address by Dr. Imre Szeman (Canadian Research Chair, Cultural Studies. University of Alberta).
Submission deadline for abstracts is December 15, 2009.
Please send abstracts and all other inquiries to: future@uoguelph.ca.