Deleuze and Global Pandemics: Call for Chapters

deadline for submissions: 
November 1, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Indian Institiute of Technology, Kharagpur, West Bengal India

Chief Editor's Bio: Dr. Saswat Samay Das teaches Critical Theory, Continental Thinking and Deleuze Studies at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, India.

For many it is the perverse novelty of the chaotic mess that Covid-19 outbreak has created for the earthlings that demands attention. Still, pandemic is not a new phenomenon that the globe has encountered. In the summer of 1878 the southern United States was struck by a disastrous outbreaak of yellow fever, a viral disease that affected 100,000 people. Back in 1918, it was the Spanish flu epidemic which was regarded as the deadliest disease infecting about one-third of the world’s population. Again, in 1996, in a village deep in the Minkebe Forest in northern Gabon, earthlings confronted the outbreak of Ebola, a particularly infectious and deadly virus that took lives of thousands and then in the past two decades the world encountered SARS, MERS and more than one major infectious epidemic repeatedly.

However, the question iswhy according to many the focal point of Covid-19 outbreak ought to be what they view as the novelty of the predicament it has created for the earthlings? No doubt, in a nuanced manner every pandemic has signalled an ecological crisis. There is even a noteworthy range of interpretations holding out natural ecology as a palimpsest of anthropocentric exploitation. With the sheer encyclopaedic stockpile of such interpretations in addition to those showing how Anthropocenity instead of turning Spinozian ethics into praxis in the light of the dense inter-relatedness between nature and earthlings has manipulated and exploited the latter where does the novelty of this outbreak lie in epistemic terms? And why is it necessary to link up this outbreak and the whole history of pandemic with Deleuze’s thinking?

On the other hand, there is no dearth of Institutional anthropocentric intellectual validation of its policies and schemas too. This is a validation based on holding up nature as a demonic force or as an obstacle that the earthlings will have to remove for progressing in narrow corporate terms.

So what makes up the novelty in epistemic terms?

What we need to recognize is this that this is the first time when it seems that the architects of the corporatized anthromorphic agendas are pushed to the brink of realizing that if they wish secure their agendas they will have to yolk them to the emergent configuration of post human eco-politics. To explain this stance of nature what is required is an intensive engagement with Deleuze’s thinking because this time the pandemic doesn’t merely reflect its violent rejection of anthromorphic policies, rather the violence which the nature has sparked off has a grammar similar to that of the violence that usually accompanies the capitalist exploitative reordering of ecology. This time it seems nature’s violence is directed towards imprisoning the capitalists in their own agendas. While anthropocentric agendas yielded ‘the concentric globed condition’ that produced the dead-locking cyclic patterns of what we view as the ‘global discontents’, Deleuze believed that it was the constant process of relative territorialisation and deterritorialisation that created the condition for the production of new earth.

At this moment we need to recollect that in his book Capitalism and Schizophrenia Deleuze stressed the virtual potential of the capital while foregrounding capitalism as a site of production of schizophrenia. It was the ‘natalistic’ dynamism of the capital that was meant to effect absolute deterritorialisation, an effective rupture with the capitalist system, andleadus towards the re-production of the new earth. We argue that attempts need to be made to understand the pandemics in the light of those arguments. Further, in order to make our stand clearer we consider it necessary to put the spotlight on the institutional measures to contain the pandemic.

To paralyse the aberrant movement of the virus from one territory to the other, from one body to another, our Institution triggered off a process of excluding us from the public spaces. The new territory of dynamic interactionism of human lives is now the oedipal domestic spheres. This is where the irony lies. The formal management of this pandemic has only vehemently and equally conspicuously restructured the socius in resoundingly capitalistic terms, thereby intensifying the hermetic globed condition in which we live. It may be argued that this restructuration of human society necessitates the emergence of new ways of existence by de-territorializing us from the capitalist networks and simultaneously re-territorializing us in the restrictive mobility of our domestic spheres. But is this what Deleuze meant by de/re-territorialisation? We argue that the dispersion of this pandemic mimics the global networks to create a visual representation of what such networks seek to actualize in the future, the absolutization of the surveillance or control society.

In addition to producing visual representation of the globed condition in which we live, what this pandemic seeks to destroy forever is the illusion of the liberation that capitalism has produced. It is argued that neo-liberal capitalist networks stand as the breeding ground of new connections and combinations, but it only necessitates and facilitates purely interest-driven economic networks. Further, capitalist society stands as a massive bundle of stultifying contradictions and antagonisms with a skewed logic of nurturing economic disparity if needed for benefitting the corporate ends.

It is this condition that this pandemic exposes. On one hand, this pandemics, not unlike others, expose the incapability of capitalism in safeguarding the crises of health and economy; on the other hand, it shows what it is like staying in the condition of exclusion and isolation. Further, due to the infectious outbreak of Covid-19 our institutions not only arrests us within our domestic spaces, rather it seizes an opportunity in this condition to subject these spaces to a menacing surveillance network. It may seem to some that this is nature’s way of problematizing inter-relations, interconnections, migration, flows, and inter-subjective public sphere intellectualism and working towards consolidating fascist right wing politics of compartmentalization and classification leading to the production of new identitarian divides. But we argue against such interpretations. Rather by producing futural visual projection of extremities of the right-wing patterns of governance it restricts us from allying with such governance and create scopes for acting against it. Furthermore, this pandemic has shown what the world will look like if we curtail the effective nomadism of the migrant labourers. Not unlike the right-wing governance this pandemic has forced these laborers to return to their ‘imaginary’ homelands. And when the government, as in the case of India, carries out the whole process of resettling these laborers in their homelands or States it does so by classifying them on an identitarian basis. In the context of pandemics, it cannot be expected to subject this kind of institutional exercise to juridical correction, but it is the height of ignorance to think that migrants have a home while for the migrants their home stands synonymous to their work and migration.

The crux of the matter is this pandemic puts before us the future of right-wing governance, of what it can do if it continues unabated, which is dividing us on the basis of our molar and micro-identities and creating a fresh dialectical field of anti-productive antagonisms. This monumental uncertainty created by the global pandemic needs to be addressed in order to restore the Earth not only from the wrath of nature but from the global threats inscripted by the capitalistic conditions. However, to walk towards the new earth we argue that what is required at best is a deliberative engagement with Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy which offers therapeusis of alternative approaches. We argue that these approaches while providing a healing touch to the wounds inflicted by the anthropocentric agendas will lay down the ground for the revolutionary praxis needed for producing an effective rupture with these agendas. We argue that Deleuze’s conceptualization of affective temporalities of life on earth that ranges from positioning onto-power as a pure potentia to disrupting the linearity of time and producing line of flights is the only effective answer to anthropocentric agendas which seems desirous in the current scenario to resuscitate itself by turning the new normal into mechanisms of generating profit.

In fact, these potential lines of flights create cracks in the system of control; reveal open spaces and experimental planes beyond the limits of what exists. The wide array of Deleuzean concepts may once again become the source for encountering the crisis caused by the outbreaks and pandemics. Our proposed book tentatively entitled as Deleuze and Global Pandemics would aim to investigate in a variety of ways and from perspectives expressing an interplay of a range of disciplines what Deleuze and Guattari’s philosophy could offer to the Post pandemic world. 

Some of the issues that we think may be addressed in relation to pandemics by using Deleuzean lens could be:

  • Novelty and natality
  • Media and futurity
  • Progressive historicisation, alternate histories and de-historicisation
  • Eruptions, immanence, and scientific ordering
  • Social coding, decoding, and bio
  • Paranoia, fear, and nihilism
  • Micropolitical, post-political and trans-political
  • Difference, repetition and Covid-19
  • Surveillance and control
  • Limits of mecanosphere
  • Capitalism, Anthropocenity, and neoliberalism
  • Eco-politics, Ecosophy and the new earth

Interested scholars and academicians may send their abstracts (approx.300 words) and a brief bio-sketch or any inquires regarding the CFP to deleuzeandglobalpandemics@gmail.com

Extended Deadline for Abstract submission: September 01, 2020