Streams

Stream descriptions will be added here as they are accepted. Streams accepted so far are:

Control-Security

During the early decades of the twenty-first-century, no problematic has become more central to our understanding of the contemporary moment than security. Current conceptions of security have never been confined to the defense and rule of sovereign territories—a fact attested to by the emergence of new formations such as biopolitical security, climate security, cyber security, food security, and human security. Such varied formations diverge in many of their assumptions, objects, and practices. However, their emergence attests to the fact that the politics and techniques of security today constitute a form of biopolitical power over life. However, if security is indeed today a form of biopower geared towards life’s management and governance, it is haunted, so to speak, by the Latin root definition of “security” as meaning “without care.” That is as much to say that even as the securitization of life has continued apace, neoliberal reforms of the welfare state and climate change, among others, have left us more vulnerable than ever before. In the face of these developments, the stream “Security-Control” seeks to investigate the cultural, theoretical, and political underpinnings of the security problematic, explore its links to such current developments as the digitalization of life and the emergence of debt as a mode of governance, and to pursue its implications for how we think of freedom, circulation, data, and the population.

Control – Borders

Accelerated flows of capital, increased migration (free and forced), and the rapid development of new media and bio-technologies are all implicated in the emergence of successively new forms of exclusion and inclusion. The proliferation of such borders takes shape through institutional, affective, geographical, rhetorical, corporeal, as well as economic means. Festung Europa builds its walls higher while ever new forms of transnational communities and networks evolve. Access to new technologies pushes the boundaries of the human for some, while most remain within other registers of human being. Speech communities splinter and regroup through Global English. Religious or activist identities challenge national and racial agendas. Throughout, the policing, maintenance and renegotiation of borders persist. Fluid and protean though these processes are, the aesthetic domains of literature, film, art, music and computer games constitute privileged sites through which to engage them. Approaching these issues from a broad interdisciplinary angle, this stream therefore invites contributions that may address issues such as (but not restricted to) the deep history of borders; migration, diaspora and borders; the precariat in and outside the nation; borders between the human and non-human; borders and paranoia; languages of exclusion and inclusion; narrative and borders.

Control-Animal

Societies are built around the use and abuse of non-human animals; for food, clothing, leisure, medical research, labor, companionship and not least, for understanding ourselves through art, literature and philosophy. Animal bodies, their presences and non-presences, are supervised and controlled from the agricultural breeding of GMO animals, the regulations and breaking of such regarding hunting, to pet interaction and training ideologies. In what ways do animals respond, resist or comply to technologies of control? For this stream, we invite papers dealing with animal agency and subjectivity; human-animal interaction; intersectional approaches to species, gender, race and more; animal spaces and place-making; animal narratives and other representations; control regimes; ethics; nationality and citizenship.

Control-Life

If the recent turn to life has taught us anything, it is that the concept life is precisely that which exposes the limits of control, in all its forms. Life itself (if such a thing can be even uttered) is uncontrollable, uncontainable, excessive, recalcitrant, insistent, and certainly is not easily demarcated. Rather, life is a problematic, an intensification, and an opening to questions about the boundaries of what is and what is not. In our current historical moment—where we stand in the shadow of the anthropocene and face the real and impending likelihood of human extinction—the human has been charged with thinking life anew. This thinking, however, must be undertaken critically and in a manner that avoids falling into the trap of an exclusive disjunction that argues that either the human (and life) are part of a larger interdependent whole or that the human (and life) is somehow exceptional and set apart from its milieu. This stream will take up that critical challenge in order to go beyond life and the misdirected practices of control often associated with it.

Control – Climate

Dreams of controlling climate are as old as the weather gods of ancient myth and as contemporary as 21st century military industrial experiments in geoengineering. At the same time, climate control is a familiar feature of our intimate environments, enabling us to keep our homes cozy, our workplaces efficient, the air inside our cars and airplanes breathable. The thresholds of indoor and outdoor climates mark boundaries of control over private and public life, domains over which we exercise varying degrees of material and political control. The desire for control competes with a fascination with that which escapes prediction and preparation; so-called natural disasters are spectacles of pleasure and opportunity, a breath of fresh air carries with it the possibility of revolution. Such is the double meaning of climate as both material and social reality that controlling climate, atmosphere, air, is always a political matter. This panel invites papers that explore the affective, technological and political gymnastics of climate control. In an era in which anthropogenic climate change manifests as the pinnacle of loss of control over climate—a debacle of human agency without foresight, causality without direction or responsibility—where have our dreams of climate control gotten us? Is it possible, now, to relinquish control? What effects and affects now appear as possible domains of control?

Control – Bacteria

In the past decade, we have become increasingly aware of our close entanglement and symbiosis with the trillions of bacteria inside us, on us and around us; humans can be seen less as individual organisms autonomously interacting with their environments and more as symbiotic super-individuals or multi-species ecologies, living vicariously on a bacterial planet. The growing scientific understanding of this symbiosis challenges traditional concepts of control in the natural sciences, in philosophy and in the arts: Who is controlling whom? Who controls the environment, and where does environment begin and end? While in the last decades cells, tissues, and genetic sequences were considered to microscopically ‘embody’ or ‘encode’ individual organisms for which they stood in pars pro toto, attention has recently shifted toward bacteria as prolific ‘in-between’ organisms. Bacteria consequently unfold as a crucial media for post-anthropocentric philosophy and art practices. For this broadly interdisciplinary stream we invite theoretical, literary, and artistic engagements with the relationship between humans and the microbial world. Papers might ask what a micro-biopolitics would look like; what kinds of literary and artistic subject might arise in the bacterial in-between; what eco-philosophy and ecological thinking means in a microbial world; or what are the consequences of integrating microbes into our understanding of what it is to be (post)human.

Control – War

Warfare has become increasingly invisible. Just as the vocabulary of the New Wars has been subsumed within narratives of insurgency, popular uprising and criminality, the Global Wars on Terror have all but discursively evaporated into the political ether. That does not suggest an ending to political violence. On the contrary, as the contemporary development/security/environment nexus is deeply intertwined with new technologies for social and political control on a planetary scale, new strategic arrangements are being shaped by complex assemblages that bring together forms of intimacy/remoteness, proximity/distancing and visibility/concealment, in ways that can actually appear mutually exclusive and re-enforcing. For instance, just as liberal actors in the dangerous borderland areas increasingly find themselves operating within fortified protectorates as part of a great separation from the world, this is matched, albeit it ways that initially appear disconnected, by new forms of violence and governance that also take place at a distance. Such dynamics further complicates the already apparent eviceration of conventional modern demarcations between times of war/times of peace; friend/enemies; inside/outside; civilian/soldier; and pasts/present/futures.

This stream calls for inquiry into these new cartographies of violent contestation in order to rethink the ways in which ideas of proximity/intimacy takes us beyond conventional understandings of war. Asking what becomes of the very idea of the ‘battlefield’ in subjective, temporal and spatial terms, we invite papers that deal both with the atmospheric and the micro-specific dimensions of the contemporary condition. With emphasis on the techno-science, visual culture and hyper-communication that allow for increasing automation and distanced killings, as well as remote means in the delivery of aid/humanitarian assistance, we invite trans-disciplinary discussions in order to purposefully interrogate the political, cultural, juridical and philosophical stakes. Such concerns we maintain are integral unpacking the politics and ethics of (non)violence in the battlefields of the 21st Century.

Control-Desire

Contemporary everyday life is saturated with popular cultural and media imagery that is intricately linked with desire in various ways. Whether sexual, economic or related to (often gendered) regulations of the body or self-improvement, these desires – and their representation – tend to be married with a distinctly neoliberal understanding of the subject as being in control and able to enjoy full freedom of choice. At the same time, these desires are arguably often formed and controlled by the culture industry itself. Contemporary popular culture and media thus both evidence and propel the often strictly normative, neoliberal and capitalist ways in which desire is shaped and articulated. “Control-Desire” seeks to investigate the complex ways in which desire is called forth, circulated and circumscribed by the constant flow of images and ideologies that conditions everyday life. Suggested topics for this stream include (but are not limited to) the link between control-desire and: the media; gender; sexuality; pleasure; private/public; agency/passivity; and the beauty industry.

Control-Experiment (Exhibition)                                                                            

Experimentation is governed by competing ideals of control and playful freedom. While the controlled experiment is widely understood as the gold standard of the sciences, the aspiration to control, direct, test and constrain novel operations is also prominent artistic, social and political practices of experimentation. The experimentalism of the arts, where to experiment connotes defiance of rigid norms and expectations and an openness to indeterminacy, even failure, likewise finds its counterpart in the exploratory dimension of scientific research. Itself an experiment with the forms and media through which to think through the theme of this conference, Control-Experiment mobilizes this dialectic at the core of the concept of experiment in order that we might play with control—demonstrate, test and display its inner workings. The stream will take the form of an art exhibition and series of performances that address each of the streams.