Control, in its most general definition, refers to a set of mechanisms used to influence, direct, or restrict people, organisms, processes, systems, motions, and behaviors. It can also refer to tools employed to enforce such mechanisms. On a fundamental level, this general definition is already political as it pertains to ways in which power informs modes of functioning in accordance with what are inevitably social, cultural, and economic conditions and norms. A first starting point of the SLSAeu conference in Stockholm in 2016 is the underlining of this inevitably political dimension of control.
While control in its most general sense is an inevitable part of group mechanics, and while the birth of biopolitics at the “threshold of modernity” made politics itself a matter of controlling and modifying life processes, it seems evident that a whole string of developments over the last few decades have given birth to new modes of control. For example, ways of influencing, directing, and restricting human and nonhuman animals, organisms, processes, systems, motions, and behaviors change alongside developments in technology and science, in modes of production, in the globalization of neoliberal capitalism, and in geopolitical and postcolonial processes. A second starting point of this conference is an interest in these changing modes of political control.
Since contemporary modes of control make it possible to influence all levels and forms of life, the spectrum under discussion reaches from laboratories experimenting with stem cells and live tissue, to media representations of war and climate change, to enactments and discourses of security, to the policing of borders and migration, to mention a very few. A third starting point of the conference is, therefore, a concern with the necessity of exploring political control across a wide range of instantiations.
Literature, science, and the arts offer many different perspectives on control. Their representations, experimentations, and expressions constitute examples of as well as challenges to various mechanisms of control. A fourth starting point of the conference, then, is the intimate relation between culture and control and the eagerness to explore the role of various modes of expression in what some now call control society.
In short, then, SLSAeu in Stockholm in 2016 explores developments in political control from a number of different perspectives by investigating the role of literature, science, and the arts in control society. Papers will be organised in accordance with a select number of streams.