Lisa Blackman (Goldsmiths University, London, UK):
Loving the Alien: A Post-post-human Manifesto / Mediated Perception, Trauma and Transmission (21-22 Aug)
Lecture 1: Loving the Alien: A Post-post-human Manifesto
Esposito points out, “for life to remain as such, it must submit itself to an alien force that, if not entirely hostile, at least inhibits its development” (Esposito 2011: 8)
In this lecture Lisa will explore questions of queer identity within the context of “alien phenomenologies” and the “new biologies.” Lisa will start by exploring the political figuration of the alien within the context of queer imaginaries and critical race politics. The lecture will explore two themes: the “inhumanism of the human” as well as the “humanism of the inhuman” (although the term humanism might need unmooring from its grounding in specific conceptions of distinctly human agency and values); what is already “in” the human and “inhuman formation”? How can we develop a non-body politics, which recognizes the complexity of different scales of matter, some of which have been fundamentally changed, altered and reformed as part of human-technological industrial practices? In this context, what counts as a body? Where does this leave “us” and our capacity to apprehend, experience, live and commune with the “alien”? Does this question still assume a sovereign human subject (white and masterful) encountering a foreign element that exposes how entrenched political and even biological resistance to otherness is? What resists our capacity to truly understand or prehend fragility, finality, death, dying, torture, extinction, brutality, and our increasing anxieties about the future when the human (as a generic and unmarked) species is displaced from its fantasy of mastery, boundedness and control? Although the lecture will explore the bleak futures, which we appear to be bequeathing to future generations, it will explore how “alien phenomenologies” have always provided queer routes to imagining futures that remain foreclosed, displaced or submerged. Exploring the concept of transmedia and historiality Lisa will explore how the intersections of science studies, affect theories and weird science might provide alternative imaginaries that gesture to a non-body politics and the need for more (queer) speculative sciences.
Lecture 2: Mediated Perception, Trauma and Transmission
This lecture will explore some alternative approaches to mental health and to experiences many of us may have of feeling bad, not feeling at home in our bodies, of finding it sometimes difficult to go on; embodied experiences that often become medicalized – they become diagnostic markers of what are taken to be particular biomedical illnesses – anxiety, panic disorder, depression, de-personalization disorder, psychosis. Lisa will explore arguments, which suggest that these kinds of experiences are social all the way down, right to the bottom; to the visceral, affective, physiological and psychological. As many queer scholars have argued (including Cvetkovich) we need new ways of understanding mental health difficulties which can deal with what it feels like to live under capitalism, neoliberalism, globalization, war, conflicts, racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and other forms of discrimination. What biomedical narratives don’t explain well is what it feels like to live within conditions of exploitation and oppression and given the climate and conjuncture we are living through – with an increase in xenophobia, racism, sexism, transphobia, fear of the other in all sorts of forms-, we urgently need new ways of understanding what it means to have and be a body within very particular milieus and contexts. The lecture will provide an opening to some new perspectives, which will draw on Lisa’s research and practice with a social activist group and movement (the Hearing Voices Movement), which have been challenging biomedical perspectives for over thirty years.
Ann Cvetkovich (University of Texas at Austin, USA):
Archival Turns and Queer Affective Methods (23-24 Aug)
Lecture: Archival Turns and Queer Affective Methods
Workshop: Writing as Archival Practice: A Lecture/Writing, Theory/Practice Workshop Hybrid
These lectures draw from my book in progress, which chronicles the recent proliferation of LGBTQ archives as a point of departure for a broader inquiry into the power of archives to transform public histories. The push for LGBTQ state recognition, civil rights, and cultural visibility has been accompanied by a desire for the archive – a claim that the recording and preservation of LGBTQ history is an epistemic right. Yet new LGBTQ archival projects must also respond to historical and theoretical critiques, including decolonizing ones, that represent archives as forms of epistemological domination and surveillance or as guided by an impossible desire for stable knowledge.
I address these tensions through case histories of actual archives, as well as projects by artists whose creative and queer approaches to the archives are simultaneously critical and transformative. One focus will be on how my research in the June Mazer Lesbian Archives, which have recently been transferred to UCLA’s Special Collections, and Cornell University’s Human Sexuality Collections, have been inspired by artists whose experiments in archival preservation and innovative media practices grapple with the materiality of the archive in order to reveal its ephemeral and affective dimensions.
The second session will be a lecture/workshop hybrid that focuses on writing as archival practice. The lecture will serve as a point of departure for collective writing exercises done in the real time of the workshop with a focus on what scholarly writing about archives can learn from contemporary forms such as creative non-fiction, lyric essay, graphic narrative, or mixed media, as well as on how new forms of writing can place pressure on conventional models of data and evidence.
Boryana Rossa (Syracuse University, New York, USA):
Post-Internet Gender and Sexuality (26-27 Aug)
Lecture 1: Contemporary Performative and Guerilla Art Practices Online
Lecture 2: Contemporary Post-Internet Film Practices
Early radical statements that Internet will provide freedom of expression, tools of mobilization for the revolutionary masses and a territory free of gender discrimination (because everyone performs through an avatar) proved to be naïve. The once new technological and networking “tools of liberation” have been long ago instrumentalized for the purposes of the status-quo. The artistic and the activist avant-garde is again struggling to find new ways to challenge established positions and discriminative practices. Additionally, the Internet anonymity, sometimes associated with the opportunity to freely share politically or socially inconvenient opinions, also gives way to reactionary behavior often hidden behind the mask of the political correctness in the real world, where more often phobic positions are unacceptable.
In these two lectures I will review artistic and activist practices that utilize new tools and invent actions to challenge the brutality and the cynicism of the post-Internet-scape. Works by Angela Washko, Moleindustria, Jennifer Chan and others will be reviewed along with vloggers like Eldar Bogunov, Krolik Black and my personal work in collaboration with artist and filmmaker Oleg Mavromatti.
Student presentations are supposed to identify similar practices that might be their own as well. It will be appreciated if these examples are culturally specific. The presenter is supposed to introduce the audience to the context as well and be able to handle comparative analysis, situating these culturally specific practices in trans-cultural context.
Katerina Kolozova: (Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities - Skopje, Macedonia):
Revisiting Prosthesis and Reclaiming Biology: A Proposal for a Feminist Project in an Era of Global Authoritarianism (22 Aug)
Thanks to philosophy and theology, nature is always humanized. As long as the technological component of the radical dyad called the “cyborg,” or the inhuman and the non-human, can be humanized or transformed into pure transcendence constituting pure rationality as the only accessible reality, it remains intrinsic part of the Anthropos mythos. It is neither post-human nor non-human or in-human. It is profoundly humanist. As a consequence, it is also naturalized. The rationalist mind determined by its anthropocentrism in the last instance will unavoidably mimic and reproduce nature. Therefore, in spite of the commitment to hybridization, the post-human thus conceived will never be inhuman or monstrous. The inhuman is that which escapes rational conceptualization, that which has no meaning or reason for existence: senseless, brute existence, mere matter regardless of whether organic or artificially produced.