Ewa Domańska is Associate Professor of theory and history of historiography in the Department of History, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland and Visiting Associate Professor at the Department of Anthropology, Stanford University. Her teaching and research interests include contemporary theory and history of historiography, comparative theory of the humanities and social sciences, posthumanities and ecological humanities. She is the author of 4 books, recently Historia egzystencjalna. Krytyczne studium narratywizmu i humanistyki zaangażowanej (Existential History. Critical Approach to Narrativism and Emancipatory Humanities, 2012, in Polish), and editor and co-editor of many volumes including recently published Historia - dziś (History – Today, ed. with Rafał Stobiecki and Tomasz Wiślicz, 2014, in Polish). Currently Ewa is completing a book entitled: Necros: An Introduction to the Ontology of the Dead Body.
Slow Science and Emergent Methods in the Humanities and Social Sciences
The paper will introduce an idea of “slow science” that emerged a decade ago as a result of a strong criticism of a reliability and accurateness of scientific research. It is also related to criticisms against academic “productivism” concerned with quantitative metrics as the main indicator of scholarly achievements. Published in 2010 “The Slow Science Manifesto” calls for slowing down the process of doing research and publishing its results and taking more time to think, read and evaluate knowledge. Critics, on the other hand, warn that advocating slow science might obstruct science in “developing” countries and hold them in a constant position of epistemic backwardness. While examining this problem, I will reflect on the question if and how recently emergent methods in the humanities and social sciences might contribute to a “slow science movement.” I will focus on the recent and intriguing phenomenon of the conversion of certain analytical categories into methodologies (friendship as method in ethnographic research; sincerity as a method of historiographical inquiry; hope as a category of social analysis and a method of qualitative research, etc.). I would claim that using social values as methods in combination with developing in young researchers’ intellectual virtues (intellectual honesty, courage, self-criticism, modesty, carefulness, patience and responsibility) might become a needed and desirable approach to knowledge building.
Prof. Serpil Oppermann
Professor of English at Hacettepe University, Ankara, and current Vice president of EASLCE (Eurpoean Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and Environment), has published widely on postmodern, material, and feminist ecocriticisms, and ecocritical theory. She is the co-editor of The Future of Ecocriticism: New Horizons (2011), International Perspectives in Feminist Ecocriticism (with Greta Gaard and Simon Estok, 2013), Material Ecocriticism (with Serenella Iovino, 2014), and editor of Ekoeleştiri: Çevre ve Edebiyat (2012) and New International Voices in Ecocriticism (2015). She serves in the editorial boards of several international journals and publication series on environmental topics, including ISLE, Ecozon@, Relations: Beyond Anthropocentrism, andPAN: Philosophy Activism Nature, and Ecocritical Theory and Practice series of Lexington Books. Her recent work is focused on material ecocriticism, posthuman models, and the influence of the Anthropocene discourse in the Environmental Humanities. She has currently edited (with Serenella Iovino) Environmental Humanites: Voices from the Anthropocene, forthcoming this year.
Sites of Narrativity: Storied Matter and Narrative Agencies
Thinking matter as agentic, vibrant, creative, and expressive is integral to the new materialist project of thinking beyond anthropocentrism. This vision also constitutes the intellectual horizon of material ecocriticism, which examines matter in terms of its expressive creativity, its storied dimension. Whether biotic or not, matter in every form is a meaning producing embodiment of the world, a “site of narrativity” with ongoing configurations of signs and meanings that we interpret as stories. Possessing an eloquent and signifying agency, matter participates in the world’s “differential intelligibility” (Barad) as storied matter—a corporeal palimpsest in which stories are inscribed. Interconnected with human lives and practices, storied matter is not a conceptual abstraction, but a novel category that provides a viable model of understanding the intelligible agency of matter, and can be enlisted in the alternative figurations for thinking the world. To think matter storied is also to see it as a “narrative agency,” which is inherent in every material formation from bodies to their atoms making them telling or storied.
In this paper I will examine various sites of narrativity and address the question of how storied matter can be helpful in building disanthropocentric discourses and practices in a world facing potentially catastrophic impacts from climate change and other cataclysmic ecological complexities. Since the idea that matter is storied is found in almost every literary tradition, I will refer to literary examples that are not inherently anthropomorphic. The main focus of the paper, however, is on matter’s narrative power of creating configurations of meaning, which provokes critical reflection on the health of the planet’s increasingly deteriorating biospheres and ecoystems.
Prof. Arun Saldanha
Arun Saldanha graduated in Geography from the Open University, UK, and is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Society at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA. He is the author ofPsychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007) and the forthcoming Space After Deleuze (Bloomsbury). He coedited Sexual Difference Between Psychoanalysis and Vitalism (with Hoon Song, Routledge, 2013), Deleuze and Race (with Jason Michael Adams, Edinburgh University Press, 2013) and Geographies of Race and Food (with Rachel Slocum, Ashgate, 2013). His forthcoming special issue of Deleuze Studies is titled “Deleuze and Guattari in the Anthropocene" (coedited with Hannah Stark), and he coedits a book series at Nebraska University Press called “rewriting the earth + cultural geographies”. Arun is slowly working towards a book tentatively titled The Political Phenotype: Antiracist Science After Man.
Vulnerable knowing in the Anthropocene: new old materialism
What is old materialism, once a new one has been heralded? Most would say it is historical and dialectical materialism on the one side, and scientific realism and physicalism on the other. This paper will show that through a retroactive gesture these two older forms of materialism are rewritten by the critique of new materialism, even if it is mostly implicit. By focusing on some conceptual conundrums which the Anthropocene throws up for all knowledge and politics, I argue they cannot proceed without an understanding of capitalism as the socioecological system driving global change. Inspired by Badiou, a sympathetic critique of the Harawayan feminist notion of situatedness leads to a call for anew old materialism. While we cannot claim to know or change the world by fiat of a self-sufficient power of Reason and History, as was the case for classical Marxism and still is in hegemonic science, there remains a material necessity of attempting to universalize, however tentatively, our grasp of the world. What the Anthropocene forces knowledges to do as never before is to simultaneously confront the pitfalls of Western universalisms and provide a platform for politicizing the ontological status of the human species as such. What results is a universality subversive of the status quo. Mobilizing the progressive impetus of the earth sciences is crucial to such knowing insofar as the Anthropocene is first of all their thematic. Through the coming exchange between science, Marxism, and the more recent politics of embodied difference, the vulnerability of knowing is discovered and affirmed, only not as epistemological conclusion (all knowledges are situated) but as the ontological basis for revolution (another world is possible).
Dr. Milla Tiainen
Milla Tiainen works in the Department of Musicology at the University of Helsinki where she is currently Acting Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology. From September 2016, Milla will work as Senior Lecturer in the same department. Her research interests in music and sound studies span questions of musical performance, the voice in contemporary arts and media cultures, process thinking, and new materialist and posthumanist approaches. In addition to a monograph and a co-edited collection of essays in Finnish, she has published widely in international edited collections and journals such as Body& Society, Cultural Studies Review, Current Musicology and NECSUS - European Journal of Media Studies. Forthcoming publications include the co-edited volume Musical Encounters with Deleuze and Guattari (Bloomsbury, 2017). Milla is finishing a monograph on a new Deleuze- and Guattari-inspired approach to operatic performing, which is under contract with the University of Minnesota Press. She is a founding member of the COST-funded New Materialism network and a co-leader of the network's research group concerned with creative arts. From April 2017, Milla will work as a researcher in the European Research Council-funded project SENSOTRA – Sensory Transformations and Transgenerational Environmental Relationships in Europe, 1950–2020 (funding period 2016–2021).
Emerging sonic situations: A new materialist cartography of feminist music and sound studies
Since their formative stages in the 1980s and 1990s, feminist music and sound studies have participated in wider movements of feminist theory and practice in advocating epistemological situatedness and multiple politics of location in relation to sounds and music. It is largely thanks to feminist endeavors from music analysis through to ethnomusicology that researchers today have a range of methodologies for examining the male biases of many music cultures and research traditions, and – more affirmatively – for embedding sounds in complex bodily, institutional, social, technical, glocal, and temporal dynamics.
Building upon the indispensable archives of feminist music and sound studies, my aim in this presentation is to inquire what new questions and situations-as-processes might be emerging on the agendas of these research fields in the present and – necessarily open – future. This mapping will be anything but a view from nowhere. It is informed by my work with musical performance, sound art, and the voice in Western cultural settings as well as by my implication in new materialist and posthumanist thinking. From within these involvements, I will propose three emergent areas of concern for feminist music and sound studies, which resonate with ongoing developments in musical and sonic praxes: 1) renewed preoccupations with site-specificity in current sound (performance) art; 2) the linking of arts to new and often problematic discourses on well-being; and 3) the arrival of ecocritical perspectives along with non-anthropocentric onto-epistemological outlooks to musical performance and scholarship. By engaging these themes in connection with my recent research, I will seek to sketch a cartography of fresh directions in feminist music and sound studies: a theoretically-based and politically-imbued reading of the present (Braidotti 2002). One of the purposes of this cartography is to enliven the classic statement of feminist musicologist Susan McClary that we cannot be sure what music is. Another purpose is to try and root new materialist concepts in actual(izing) terrains of research in an effort to evade the risk that new materialisms turn into a series of fashionable buzzwords in the contemporary academe.
Prof. Joanna Zylinska
Joanna Zylinska is a writer, lecturer, artist and curator. She is Professor of New Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. The author of five books – including Minimal Ethics for the Anthropocene (Open Humanities Press, 2014; e-version freely available), Life after New Media: Mediation as a Vital Process (with Sarah Kember; MIT Press, 2012) and Bioethics in the Age of New Media (MIT Press, 2009) – she is also a co-editor of the JISC-funded project Living Books about Life, which publishes online books at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences. Her translation of Stanislaw Lem's major philosophical treatise, Summa Technologiae, came out from the University of Minnesota's Electronic Mediations series in 2013. Zylinska is a co-editor of Culture Machine, an open-access journal of culture and theory and a curator of its sister project, Photomediations Machine. In 2013 she was Artistic Director of Transitio_MX05 'Biomediations', the biggest Latin American new media festival, which took place in Mexico City. She has recently co-edited Photomediations: An Open Book and Photomediations: A Reader as part of Europeana Space, a grant funded by the European Union's ICT Policy Support Programme. Her current projects involve photographic media entanglements and finishing a book on nonhuman photography for the MIT Press.
The embodied I/eye: a nonhuman vision from somewhere
The term “nonhuman vision” may evoke images of CCTV cameras, Google Street View, satellites and drones – that is, processes of perception in which the very act of seeing is performed by a nonhuman agent. Yet it is not my aim in this talk to celebrate uncritically any such technological enhancements to, or replacements for, human vision, because, as Donna Haraway warns us in her “Situated Knowledges” essay, “Vision in this technological feast becomes unregulated gluttony”. Technologically enhanced vision is still human, and most definitely humanist, in that it only reinforces the visual mastery and material dominance of the observer: it is like the eye of a general scanning the battlefield, only better. However, just as it is not my intention to gush over technological enhancements to human vision, neither is it to promote any kind of visual luddism as yet another instalment in man’s (or woman’s) struggle against technology. So, even though I will start from looking at the machinic aspects of vision that challenge the limitations of the human senses and that produce images which defy human perception, I will offer the concept of “nonhuman vision” as a politico-ethical response to what Haraway calls the god trick of infinite vision, a masculinist gaze of domination and occupation “seeing everything from nowhere”. My talk will therefore also be about viewpoints, that is about actual points and positions from which what we humans refer to as “the world” is apprehended and from which storied about this world (and about ourselves in this world) are narrated. Importantly, nonhuman vision will not be directly opposed to its human counterpart: rather, the human will be positioned as part of a complex material assemblage of perception in which various organic and machinic agents come together, as well as apart, for functional, political or aesthetic reasons. With this, I will move to outline an ecological model of perception as a more embodied, immersive and entangled form of image- and world-formation.
Dr. Nathalie Blanc
Nathalie Blanc works as a Research Director at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). She is the Managing Director of the CNRS-related LADYSS laboratory and is based in University Paris Diderot 7 in the Geography, History & Social Sciences Department.
A pionneer of ecocriticism in France, she has published and coordinated research programs on areas including habitability, environmental aesthetics, literature & environment and nature in the city. A founding member of the French Environmental Humanities Portal, she has also been from 2011 to 2015 the French delegate of the European COST research project Investigating cultural sustainability and is now the delegate of the European COST program on New Materialism ‘How Matter Comes to Matter’.
She is currently working on the book Form, art, and environment: engaging in sustainability, to be published by Routledge in 2016. Other selected publications include: Literature and ecology. Towards an eco-poetry with T. Pughe and D. Chartier, in Écologie et politique. Ecoplasties. Art and Environment. with Julie Ramos, 2010, Manuella. Towards environmental aesthetics, 2008, Quae.
She is also an artist and an art commissioner, currently working on the theme of ecological fragility.
Dr. Waltraud Ernst
Waltraud Ernst, Ph.D., philosopher, Department of Women's and Gender Studies, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria (since 2010). She teaches Gender Studies and Feminist Philosophy since 1996. After a postdoc research position on the "Erotic Economies of Science" at the Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna (2000-2003), she was appointed director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Women's and Gender Studies, University Hildesheim, Germany (2004-2010). 2008-2014 board member of the International Association of Women Philosophers (www.women-philosophy.org); since 2013 MC member of the EU COST Action „New Materialism. Networking European Scholarship on ‚How matter comes to matter‘. Her main research areas are feminist epistemology, concepts, theories and methods of Gender Studies, and Feminist Science and Technology Studies. Just published: The Erotic in European Culture, Scentific Development and Feminist Critique, in: SROTASWINI. Peer-Reviewed Biennial Bilingual Research Journal, J.B. College Women Cell, Jorhat, Assam, India, Vol-II, Dec. 2015, ISSN: 2277-5277, 26-33; Gender in Science and Technology. Interdisciplinary Approaches, Waltraud Ernst/Ilona Horwath, eds., Bielefeld: transcript 2014 http://e-book.fwf.ac.at/o:453.
Dr. Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer
Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer is senior researcher at the Faculty of Humanities at Charles University in Prague where she teaches at the Department of Gender Studies. She is chair of the working group ‘New materialism at the crossroads of the natural and humanities’, and co-organiser of the international Prague training school on new materialist methodologies within the COST network. Her research emerges at the intersection of feminist epistemology, science and technology studies, ecology, studies of body and affects, and new materialism. Her recent work has been published in Science, Technology & Human Values; Sociological Research Online; Women: A Cultural Review; Women’s Studies Forum International, Sociální Studia and other journals and anthologies. Her current research on techno-ecologies examines the histories, participations and potentialities of solar energy, and uses snapshot photography as a new materialist tool to explore the ethics, matterings, and entanglements of energy infrastructures in the lives of marginalised communities.
Dr. Helen Palmer
Helen Palmer is a writer and lecturer at Kingston University, London. She is the author of Deleuze and Futurism: A Manifesto for Nonsense, and has recently published articles on diffractive pedagogies and feminist rewritings from a new materialist perspective. She is currently writing a book called Queer Defamiliarisation: A Reassessment of Estrangement, and she is also writing a novel called Pleasure Beach, which is a feminist rewriting of James Joyce's Ulysses. She is part of the performance collective Le Tomatique.
Prof. Maria Tamboukou
Maria Tamboukou (BA, MA, PhD) is Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of East London, UK. She has held visiting research positions in a number of institutions and is currently Affiliated Professor in Gender Studies at Linnaeus University Sweden and Adjunct Professor at the Institute for Educational Research at Griffith University, Australia. Her research activity develops in the areas of philosophies and epistemologies in the social sciences, feminist theories, auto/biographical narratives and archival research methods. She is the author of 6 monographs, 2 co-authored books, 3 co-edited volumes on research methods and more than 70 articles and book chapters. Recent publications include the books, Sewing, Fighting and Writing: Radical Practices in Work, Politics and Culture and Gendering the Memory of Work.