interesting conference

DESIRING DISSENT: BODIES AND/ OF/ IN RESISTANCE

A conference organised by the Essex Management Centre, University of
Essex, UK, 5-6 May 2004

Call for abstracts


	"What are the new types of struggle, which are
	transversal and immediate rather than centralized
	and mediatized? What are the Îintellectualâsâ new
	functions, which are specific or Îparticularâ rather
	than universal? What are the new modes of subjectivation,
	which tend to have no identity? This is the present
	triple root of the question: What can I do, What do
	I know, What am I?...What is our light and what is our
	language, that is to say, our Îtruthâ today? What powers
	must we confront, and what is our capacity for resistance,
	today when we can no longer be content to say that the
	old struggles are no longer worth anything? And do we not
	perhaps above all bear witness to and even participate in
	the Îproduction of a new subjectivityâ? Do not the changes
	in capitalism find an unexpected Îencounterâ in the slow
	emergence of a new Self as a centre of resistance?
	Each time there is social change, is there not a movement
	of subjective reconversion, with its ambiguities but also
	its potential?" (Gilles Deleuze, Foucault)

One of the key aspects of academic thought is the analysis and
questioning of the ideological orders of social reality that have come
to dominate specific times and spaces. The aim of such an endeavour is
to produce concepts which are able not simply to describe such orders
but dissent from, interrupt and resist the techniques and desires that
produce and sustain them. Indeed a focal point of academic debate over
the past decades has been to conceptualise the MULTIPLE forms of
resistance that are mobilised against different BODIES OF ORGANISED
POWER. While the realisation that resistance is a multiplicity that
takes all sorts of shapes and forms is, without a doubt, an important
one, it seems that what has been somewhat celebrated in recent times is
a conception of resistance that can take place simply everywhere. That
is, what can sometimes be observed is that any difference or otherness
is fetishised for its PARTICULAR form of resistance without assessing
its EFFECTIVENESS within larger formations of social struggle.

Against this we suggest that resistances to bodies of power operate in
SPECIFIC socio-historical situations. That is, what is crucial is the
concrete analysis of the specificities of power relations and the
possibilities of resistance that can be deployed against them. What thus
becomes significant are questions of STRATEGY and TACTICS: resistance is
not simply something that is everywhere but something that can be
strategically organised and tactically deployed for specific political
ends and purposes. This is of particular concern for large-scale protest
movements, whose effectiveness is often a question of how MASSES OF
BODIES are organised and institutionalised into a MASS BODY across
boundaries of space and time. The anti-globalization/ anti-capitalist
movement/s provide a particularly apposite example of this set of
issues, given that the participants represent a disparate collection of
political ideologies and are spread across the world.

In unpicking questions such as these, the Îspecific intellectualâ can be
argued not only to conceptualise such dissent but also to help to
explore possibilities of its effective organisation and strategic and
tactical deployment. The academic thus becomes an ACTIVIST BODY whose
theoretical practice (or practical theory) is to resist
taken-for-granted realities and dominant forms of social organisation.
ÎBodyâ here may mean not only the intellectual Îselfâ who resorts to
scholarly arguments but also the actual carnal being that lives in an
embodied world where wants, desires and fantasies are regulated through
sensory experiences, imagination, and language. For a LIVING body, these
are not only sources of control but also bases of resistance to its
domination and appropriation by another body, ideology or organisation.

Thus, resistance is by no means deployed from within a STABLE BODY
characterised by humanist categories. Instead, the Îspecific
intellectualâ arguably resists in part in order to explore his or her
own subjectivity ö to engage in a Îcritical ontology of selfâ and an
examination of phenomenological Îbrute beingâ. That is, resistances by
individual academic bodies are not only directed against something
external but indeed against Îthe bodyâ as such. The body of the
Îspecific intellectualâ DESIRES DISSENT against itself. The activist
academic engages in a deviant act of SELF-SUBVERSION in order to produce
a body that is different to todayâs taken-for-granted subjectivities.

But are we even asking the right questions? How is difference possible
in a world that is always already characterised by relations of power
that seem to be able to INCORPORATE all forms of resistance? Is the
CAPITALIST BODY not one that continuously desires dissent in order to
explore new planes of surplus production? Is the capitalist economy not
a body of organisation that thrives on DISorganisation: resistance
against its own very organisation in order to expand its territory? Does
this axiomatic logic of capital not render all forms of resistance
FUTILE? Is, in other words, the desire for dissent not coming from
within the body of capital and therefore always already co-opted by it?
Is the activist body not always already infiltrated by the desires of
hegemonic machineries of social organisation? How then is social change
POSSIBLE?

Obviously these questions have been at the forefront of theoretical
thought for some time and there are certainly no easy answers. But we
feel that it is one of the tasks of the intellectual to ask such
questions again and again, to continuously analyse the specific
formations and organisations of power and resistance in order to
critique them and explore possibilities of changing them. Within this
conference we therefore aim to explore precisely the CONCEPTUAL JUNCTURE
between bodies, desire, resistance and organisation. We would like to
invite scholars from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds to come to
the University of Essex and present papers that respond to some of the
conceptual and political problems outlined above.

Authors might want to address some of the following broad themes (this
is by no means an exhaustive list):
- Can resistance be organised? How is resistance organised? Is it
possible to talk of Îbodies of resistanceâ?
- The role of the intellectual in the conceptualisation/ organisation of
resistance.
- Academia and activism/ teaching and research as resistance.
- The productive body and resistance at the workplace.
- Direct action: resistance and/ or desire?
- Strategies and tactics of resistance in times of ÎEmpireâ.
- Resistance and organisation/ institutionalisation/ co-optation.
- The psychoanalysis of desire and dissent.
- Historical and contemporary forms of resistance.
- Democracy and radical resistance: an oxymoronic pair?
- Desiring and resisting war.
- The resistant subject/ the resistant body.
- Resistance as art/ the art of resistance.
- Being and body as modes of resistance.
- Re/presentation of resistance in the media

Interested contributors to this conference are asked to submit an
abstract of around 500 words to Olga Belova (obelov@essex.ac.uk) by
FRIDAY, 26 MARCH 2004. Once selected, they will need to book their place
by paying a £20 registration fee. Please note that attendance will be
LIMITED to a maximum of 25 delegates.

The conference will run over 2 days, starting at lunchtime on 5 May and
finishing after lunch on 6 May. There will be 2 lunches, one dinner and
refreshments provided during the event. There is a choice of guesthouses
in the surrounding area for delegates to stay in, as well as a hotel
situated on the University campus.

Bursaries will be available for THREE PhD students to contribute towards
their accommodation and travel costs, and they will be charged no
registration fee. Interested PhD students can apply for a bursary by
submitting a separate two-page document, which addresses the following
points: What are the theoretical and methodological themes of the PhD
project?; How would a participation in this conference be of benefit to
the PhD research project?; What are the travel and accommodation costs
your conference participation would involve?

We will seek to collect papers presented at this conference into a
dedicated journal and/ or a book publication. A full paper will
therefore be required at a later date if presenters would like to be
considered for this publication.


Conference Organisers:
Olga Belova (obelov@essex.ac.uk)
Steffen Bšhm
Jo Brewis
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