"Cancer and the Pharmakon" / SLSA September 22-25, 2011

full name / name of organization: 
Shiloh Krupar and Nadine Ehlers / Georgetown University

This panel is concerned with the ways cancer treatment regimes and medico-discursive protocols trouble the distinctions between "to kill" and "to cure", and the supposedly separate realms of life and death. Cancer compels examination of the pharmakon's dialectical slippages: cancer is met with the imperative to cure, yet the cure itself cannot be extricated from the call to kill; cancer is always indeterminate in that cell growth—usually the sign of life—is actually the first sign of death; to live inside cancer treatment is to experience a kind of death in order to prolong life. The effects of these slippages register as particular kinds of vulnerabilities, both at the level of the individual body—its materiality and vitality—and at the level of the population.

We seek papers that broadly address the topic of "cancer and the pharmakon." Questions that might be considered include: How do radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and even detection procedures for cancer each threaten the persistence of the subject, while attempting to cure? What are the politics of differential vulnerabilities to cancer produced through race, class, sexuality, age, and geographical location? What possibilities arise or could be pursued "to live otherwise" with our vulnerabilities? If cancer necessitates that we find ways to live death inside the contours of life, how might we respond?

Please send paper proposals (250 words) to cancerpharmakon@gmail.com by May 1, 2011.