The Speculative Community: Or, Community and Contingency (University of Bern, October 18-19, 2014)

full name / name of organization: 
English Department and Center for Cultural Studies, University of Bern, Switzerland
contact email: 
viola.marchi@ens.unibe.ch / ryan.kopaitich@ens.unibe.ch

The conference aims at investigating the theoretical and practical dimensions of community, in connection with contingency and in light of Speculative Realism and Object-Oriented Ontology.

Call for Papers:

If the “linguistic turn” constituted the central philosophical event of the 20th century, the beginning of the 21st century has witnessed the emergence of an “ontological turn” that has significantly reshaped the contemporary landscape of continental philosophy. Speculative Realism, in particular, has pursued the aim of overcoming the idea that all reality is exclusively a discursive construct. Despite the internal differences, all its strands - Meillassoux’s speculative materialism, Harman’s object-oriented ontology, Grant’s cyber-vitalism, and Brassier’s eliminative nihilism – share the rejection of the subject/object divide that still constitutes the central trait, and alleged necessary condition, of philosophical inquiry.

Graham Harman has made particularly significant contributions in this field as his first work, "Tool-Being", provides the basis for object-oriented ontology. Aside from specifically refuting the privileged space given to the human in most ontologies, Harman seeks to bring to light the nature of objects themselves by drawing out of Heidegger’s tool analysis an innovative account of a philosophical system that avers the positive ontological status and independence of objects that do not rely on the human mind, but must be thought as individuals constantly interacting, not just with the human subject, but within a broad network of relations.

Community, on the other hand, has been a central philosophical concern throughout history, and has recently become ever more prominent through the work of Maurice Blanchot, Jean-Luc Nancy, Giorgio Agamben and Roberto Esposito. The focus on living together, the ‘co’ of community, has often overshadowed some more foundational aspects that relate to community formation both out of and as a foil to contingency. The rich soil for investigating community in light of contingency opens up pathways in the ontological, epistemological and ethical fields of philosophical research.

The conference aims at examining the concept of community, a pressing and significant issue in today’s cultural, philosophical and sociological terrain, in connection with the latest trends in theory. An encounter between object-oriented ontology and the central philosophical concerns of community and contingency seems therefore a worthwhile investigation.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

- The place of contingency in community
- Community viewed through Object Oriented Ontology and/or Speculative Realism
- Contingency after the "ontological turn"
- Community beyond the subject/object divide
- Contingent communities and literary/artistic representation

We invite contributions from researchers in the fields of literary and cultural studies, sciences, or other relevant fields of inquiry. Please send abstracts of not more than 300 words and a brief bionote in .pdf format to the conference organizers: ryan.kopaitich@ens.unibe.ch and viola.marchi@ens.unibe.ch by September 20th, 2014.

cfp categories: 
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
ecocriticism_and_environmental_studies
ethnicity_and_national_identity
general_announcements
graduate_conferences
interdisciplinary
international_conferences
science_and_culture
theory
twentieth_century_and_beyond