Call for Papers: Biopolitics, Society & Performance

Biopolitics, Society and Performance
31 Oct – 2 Nov, 2012

School of Drama, Film and Music
Trinity College Dublin

The conference invites you to reconsider the notion of biopolitics and its recent transformations in theory and the contemporary world. The term biopolitics was first defined by Michel Foucault in his book The Will to Knowledge and his lectures in the Collège de France. For Foucault, biopolitics means the technologies of political power that allow for the control of the human population as a biological species. He demonstrates how the population is controlled biologically as well as by disciplinary means, resulting in “a bestialization of man achieved through the most sophisticated political techniques.”

Biopolitics has become a highly controversial philosophical concept today, elaborated by such leading figures as Giorgio Agamben, Rosi Braidotti, Judith Butler, Roberto Esposito, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Maurizio Lazzarato, Thomas Lemke, and Paulo Virno. Giorgio Agamben relates the term to the legislative aspects of power and the emergence of the totalitarian states of the twentieth century. For Agamben the inclusion of “bare life” in the political realm constitutes the original nucleus of sovereign power. Thus, the political system has the power to decide not only who deserves to have “human rights”, but also which life counts as “human” and worth living.

Many contemporary artists are concerned with the implications of biopolitics. Their work attempts to expose the control mechanisms that affect human behaviour and limit human rights, while exploring bioethical questions in relation to human tissue and genetic modification. Artists including Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr at Symbiotica, Eduardo Kac and Kira O’Reilly explore bio-art practices and new frontiers of body art.

Keynote speakers will include:

  • Giorgio Agamben, University of Paris 8
  • Rosi Braidotti, University of Utrecht
  • Oron Catts of Symbiotica, University of Western Australia
  • Thomas Lemke, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
  • Kira O’Reilly, performance artist

Conference participants are invited to discuss a variety of topics from a wide range of academic disciplines that address the issues of biopolitics, and/or analyse such art practices. These could include, but at the same time are not limited to:

  • biopolitics and the emergence of capitalism and the nation state;
  • biopolitics and the law: the state of exception;
  • biopolitics and ethics;
  • biopolitics VS the multitude;
  • biopolitics and bio-art/body art;
  • biopolitics and performance;
  • biopolitics and new technologies

Deadline for applications was 15 July 2012.

Applicants have been informed about the outcome of the selection.

Conference fee for

80 Euro until 31 August, 2012
100 Euro after 31 August, 2012
50 Euro for postgraduate students (a valid postgraduate student card must be presented at check-in)

Register Online

Biopolitics, Society & Performance coincides with the Dublin City of Science 2012 and is co-hosted by the  Arts Technology Research Lab and the  Trinity Long Room Hub at Trinity College Dublin.



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