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'The Laboring Body' conference (UC Irvine, March 15, 2013)
full name / name of organization:
Department of Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
Keynote speaker: Nathan Brown (University of California, Davis)
Please circulate widely.
The graduate students of the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine, invite submissions for its annual conference:
The Laboring Body
Keynote Speaker: Nathan Brown, University of California, Davis
The last several years of global economic meltdown have reinvigorated public debate around the mechanisms of capitalism, particularly as people recognize their role in sustaining the system that exploits them. Organized labor, as well as those outside of the workforce (whether unemployed, homeless, or laboring in shadow economies), have played an important role in the Occupy movement and in uprisings in the Arab world, Europe, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, budget cuts and other austerity measures, as well as the general climate of crisis within the humanities and within public education as a whole, has produced a critical moment for student movements and academic workers throughout the world. While heterogeneous in their practices and conditions, these movements nonetheless share in common that they each have begun to organize the laboring body as a political force at the same time as it organizes itself. Recent theoretical work by thinkers such as David Harvey, Paolo Virno and Antonio Negri, to name just a few, has re- examined the role of labor, particularly as understood in the context of biopolitics.
This conference would like to address the ways in which politics is manifest at the level of labor embodied. In other words, how are bodies organized and self-organized within the system of labor at this most recent (neoliberal) stage of capitalism and the crises it currently faces? In what ways is the notion of labor being transformed when the body is no longer put to the service of capital but instead actively works against it? How do living relationships between knowledge and labor disrupt systems which create liberal conceptualizations of responsibility modeled on notions of labor, indebtedness and contractual obligation? How is labor aestheticized, and in what ways do myths or allegories of labor construct theories or reinforce ideologies of how bodies work (or are worked)? We invite papers from all who are engaged with questions of labor embodied, whether through politics, philosophy, critical theory, art, literature, film, science studies, culture or pedagogy, with a special emphasis on interdisciplinary work.
More specific topics include but are not limited to:
We welcome abstracts of 250-300 words, to be submitted to email@example.com no later than January 13, 2013. Submissions are especially welcome from those positioned outside the university (community organizers, independent scholars, recent or not-so-recent graduates, artists, and others). Presentations are to be 20 minutes in length. Please include your name, email address, departmental affiliation, institution, and phone number with your abstract. A limited amount of travel funds may be made available to out-of-town participants.
Keynote Bio: Nathan Brown's research and teaching focus on 20th and 21st century poetry and poetics, continental philosophy, science/technology studies, and recent communist theory. He has completed a book manuscript titled The Limits of Fabrication: Materials Science and Materialist Poetics and is now at work on a second book project titled Absent Blue Wax: Rationalist Empiricism in Contemporary French Philosophy. Nathan's recent writing and teaching focus on communist theory and on realigning cultural and political-economic periodization during late modernity. He has also been actively engaged in the UC struggle against the privatization of the university.
The Department of Comparative Literature