UPDATE: [Theory] Imagination, the Commons, and Enclosures

full name / name of organization: 
Irmak Ertuna
contact email: 

40th Anniversary Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
Feb. 26-March 1, 2009
Hyatt Regency - Boston, Massachusetts

The problem of the “commons” emerges at the conjunction of expanding flows of international
capital and integrative communication technologies. Violent appropriation, privatization, and
commodification of the earth’s material resources recalls the process of enclosure at the birth of
industrial society. Yet, as the most provocative contemporary thinking suggests, it is no longer
only a matter of sharing material resources; within this material basis of globalization, the social
and cultural realm is also rendered as common. The work of Giorgio Agamben, among others,
demonstrates the immateriality of the commons through his insistence on language as “being-in
common.” Today, the history of the commons serves as a cautionary precedent for the risk that
our global and local cultures face, where the existing power structures threaten to enclose the
immaterial wealth of social existence. The critical concepts of “general intellect,” “multitude,” and
“creative commons” attempt to define the facts of an emerging sociality, that â€" despite the
flourishing possibilities of access and a desire for uninhibited creativity and existence â€" suffers
the threat of being subsumed under global forces of homogenization. What sort of a resistance
can imagination, whether in political or in aesthetic praxis, provide when the same technologies
that allow for spontaneous creativity also work to serve destructive and oppressive purposes?
Could imagination, whether collective or individual, dare to repeat the attack of the historical
avant-garde movements on social and aesthetic norms, let alone global political structures? This
panel questions the role and the power of imagination in creating an aesthetic praxis that is also
political. We seek examinations on contemporary artistic and political endeavors, historical
precedents, as well as theoretical exegeses of the related issues in contemporary critical theory.
Please submit 250-500 word abstracts by September 15, 1008 to Irmak Ertuna,

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Received on Fri May 23 2008 - 12:56:11 EDT