THINKING ABOUT POLITICS AND BIOLOGY TODAY
Lancaster University can boast of a uniquely rich variety of approaches to analysing the contemporary convergence of biology and politics. The Institute of Advanced Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, the International Office and CESAGEN are jointly sponsoring a series of events, aiming to integrate these diverse approaches.
***Attendance is free and open to anyone interested***
Hugh Raffles, ‘On the language of bees, as such’ Tuesday 29th June 2004 Furness Lecture Theatre 1, 11-1pm
Honey bees, the ethologist Karl von Frisch told the world, have language. His lighting on the boundary that Western philosophy has long marked as the symptom of human-nonhuman difference was no accident. Yet it raised problems that remain both generative and confounding. What kind of language was this? Who spoke it? And what might they conceivably be saying?
Karen Rader, ‘The metaphor of domestication: From eugenics to oncomouse’ Tuesday, 29 June 2004 Furness Lecture Theatre 1, 4-6pm
How are the ‘natural’ and the ‘artificial’ defined in, and defined by, the current debates over genetically modified organisms? Professor Rader will argue that the current efforts to genetically domesticate ‘life’ are different from past ones, even from early 20th century eugenics, because their political implications are weightier still.
Workshop on ‘What is ‘life’? Agamben, bio-power and governmentality’ Wednesday, 30 June 2004 Cartmel Room, 10-4pm
Giorgio Agamben, a legal and political philosopher, has argued in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (Stanford, 1998) that Michel Foucault’s characterisation of the contemporary convergence of the political and the biological is inadequate: the convergence is not a matter of historical contingency, but the disclosing of ontological assumptions about ‘life’ that have underpinned political thought since Aristotle. Agamben’s thesis is important to scholars across Lancaster University, and in the workshop they will introduce how it fits in their work.
Speakers: Bülent Diken (Sociology), Michael Dillon (Politics), Paul Fletcher (Religious Studies), Adrian Mackenzie (Culture, Media, and Communication), Nayanika Mookherjee (Sociology), Stewart Motha (Law), and Paolo Palladino (History). Chair: Bron Szerszynski (IEPPP)
Karen Rader, ‘Displaying ‘life’: Museums and biopower’ Thursday, 1 July 2004 Furness Lecture Theatre 1, 2-4pm
How does one think about the convergence of the ‘life’ sciences and contemporary cultural, social, and political organisation? Professor Rader will outline her approach to this question by drawing on her most recent work on the public display of ‘life’.
Karen Rader, Marilyn Simpson Chair for Science and Society at Sarah Lawrence College, has written widely on the relationship between genetics and American culture and politics. Her many publications on the subject are synthesised in Making Mice: Standardizing Animals for American Biomedical Research, 1900-1955 (Princeton, 2004). She has also been involved in the organisation of Wonderful: Visions of a Near Future, an exhibition on the intersection of science and art that will be coming to Britain in Winter 2004.
Hugh Raffles is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His first book, In Amazonia: A Natural History (Princeton, 2002), an ethnographic account of the making of Amazonian nature, has received awards from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology, the American Ethnological Association, and the American Library Association. He is currently working on The Illustrated Insectopedia, an alphabetical investigation of human-insect relations.