Call for papers – The politics of life: Rethinking Resistance in the Biopolitical Economy

Interdisciplinary Graduate Student Conference Call For Papers

Balsillie School of International Affairs,
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, ON

Saturday March 4, 2017


Techne: Wilfrid Laurier University Biopolitical Research Group
Cultural Analysis and Social Theory MA Program


Biopolitics is a predominant paradigm in the social sciences and humanities, which begins from the premise that life is central to modern politics. In the early nineteenth century, biopolitics emerged alongside concerns with overpopulation, public hygiene, pseudo-scientific theories of ‘race,’ and into state institutions such as the socio-biological regime of the Nazis. More recently, contemporary issues such as combatting climate change, prevention of the global spread of infectious diseases, as well as rethinking the meaning of being human (given biomedical advances in such areas as genetic engineering, reproductive technologies, and even prosthetics), life has become a central issue for politics.

In our “biopolitical” era governing means to manage, regulate, control, and protect life in all its forms. This line of thinking first gained prominence in the mid-1970s with Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish (1995), The History of Sexuality, Volume 1 (1990), and his famous lectures at the Collège de France (2003, 2007, 2008). With advances of neoliberalism, recent research has started to emphasize the economic dimensions of biopolitics (Agamben 2015; Esposito 2008; Hardt and Negri 2000; Rose 2007). In neoliberalism, life not only holds political value, but economic value. The contemporary “biopolitical economy” necessitates a radical rethinking of the meaning of politics as it pertains to life.

We are accepting proposals on any topics that relate to biopolitics or the politics of life from across the social sciences and humanities. Contributions from graduate students (or advanced undergraduate) students from all disciplines and critical perspectives are welcome.

Possible topics include, but are not restricted to:
• Governmentality, debt, state of exception, crisis management, total institutions
• Epidemics, eugenics, bioethics
• Humanism, anthropocene, or post-humanism
• Affirmative biopolitics, Negative biopolitics, the politics of death (thanatopolitics, necropolitics), immunization, or vitalism
• Bare life (zoē) versus political life (bíos)
• Immaterial labour, the precariat, or the biopolitical economy
• The extent the discourse of biopolitics possessing emancipatory educational practices

This Graduate Student Conference is part of a three-day event which will include:

I. Two-day workshop with international bio-political scholars from across North America and Europe (Thurs. March 2nd and Fri. March 3rd 2017),

II. Keynote lecturer, Tall Bear (Faculty of Native Studies, University of Alberta) – “DNA and the Re-articulation of Native American Race” (Thurs. March 2nd)

III. Lecture for Graduate Students: Iain MacKenzie (University of Kent) – “Total Institutions, Critique, and Resistance” (Sat. March 4th)

We welcome submissions from upper-year undergraduate students, and all graduate students at the Masters and PhD levels. Paper proposals of 200 to 250 words, accompanied by a short biography (100 words), should be submitted to by no later than the 6th of January of 2017.

Notifications of acceptance will be given by the 31st of January of 2017.
Kind regards,

Sahver Kuzucuoglu

Master Candidate – Cultural Analysis and Social Theory
Wilfrid Laurier University


Greg Bird – (Coordinator, Techne: WLU Biopolitical Research Group)
Sahver Kuzucuoglu – (CAST MA Student & Conference Organizer)
Jalal Midani – (CAST MA Student & Conference Organizer)