EcoMaterialisms Conference CFP

The inter-UC EcoMaterialisms Collective has released the CFP for its 2016 graduate conference “EcoMaterialisms: Scales of Matter(ing)” to be held at UC Davis:

EcoMaterialisms: Scales of Matter(ing)

University of California, Davis

May 13-14, 2016

Keynote: Zakiyyah Iman Jackson (George Mason University, English)

Scales delineate zones, trajectories, bodies, spaces, and intensities. Whether scales are large or small, go up or down, they form territories with fractal properties that disrupt the traditional relations between inside and outside, macro and micro, friend and enemy. Simultaneously incongruent, fragmented, and interrelated, scales complicate questions of legibility, knowledge, and power. Rather than the pre-given contours of matter, scales are constructed and performed by the various actors for whom they matter. Making scales is about creating, inhabiting, and containing worlds, and the ways those worlds build up on one another and in one another – worlds that are situated, vulnerable, experimental, and never innocent.

With this in mind, “EcoMaterialisms: Scales of Matter(ing)” will bring interdisciplinary graduate work to bear on questions of scale in new materialist discourse and practice. As this field attempts to think the relation between matter and meaning, we ask: how are scales structured and negotiated through discursive and material practices? What kinds of scales do these practices produce? What kinds of beings, relations, and affective states do particular forms of scale enable or exclude? What kinds of politics do different forms of scale make possible? Submissions may address the following topics, but are by no means limited to:

  • Histories and theories of the organism, of ecologies, and of cosmologies
  • Racial, sexual, and psychological difference and normative scaling
  • Spatial and temporal scales and the ethics and politics thereof
  • Scales of embodiment: measurement and visibility
  • Rhetorics, practices, and philosophies of science: critical perspectives
  • Scales of sensory perception
  • Phenomenology after ‘the human’
  • Scale and knowledge production
  • Scales of environmental disaster and response
  • Humanist and post-humanist scales
  • Scale: topologies and topographies
  • Ontological scales and ontologies of scale-making

We are accepting abstracts for individual presentations as well as panel proposals for 3-4 presenters. Individual abstracts should be no more than 300 words and include your name and institutional affiliation. Panel proposals should be no more than 750 words and include a description of the panel topic and title as well as the names and institutional affiliations of each participant.

Submit abstracts and proposals to EcoMaterialismsCollective@gmail.com by Friday, January 29th, 2016.

Los Corridos de Jimmy Santiago Baca: Community in the Refrain

The corrido is a popular genre in nineteenth and twentieth century Mexican literature and social practice. Used in the oral and printed transmission of information, education, and, at times, subversive politics, corridos often take the form of narrative song, ballad, and/or poem and deal with oppression, history, and the day-to-day of rural life. Many academic studies of the history and form of the corrido — e.g. Vicente T. Mendoza, Américo Paredes, and Merle E. Simmons — treat it as a genealogical object. Whether that genealogy can be effectively traced —  that is, whether there is a broken or unbroken step-by-step development from Spanish romance ballads to Mexican corridos through the resemblance of formal attributes  — is a topic of debate, but missing from this conversation are Chicana/o appropriations and deployments of this form, whether in the Chicano nationalism of the 1960s and 70s, or the postmodern and post-nationalist chicanisma/o of the 80s and 90s. A result is the impression that the corrido is, post-1930,  static or, even, dead.

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EcoMaterialisms Conference Keynote

The inter-UC EcoMaterialisms Collective has announced the keynote for its 2016 graduate conference “EcoMaterialisms: Scales of Matter(ing)” to be held at UC Davis: Zakiyyah Iman Jackson. Here’s a description of her work:

“My book in progress, tentatively titled The Blackness of Space Between Matter and Meaning, argues that key Black Atlantic literary, visual, and philosophical texts generate a critical praxis of humanity, paradigms of relationality, and modes of embodiment that alternately expose, alter, or reject the nexus of ‘race’ and ‘species’ discourse in Western science and philosophy. Reading the existential predicament of modern racial blackness through and against the human-animal distinction in Western philosophy and science reveals not only the mutual imbrication of ‘race’ and ‘species’ in Western thought but also invites a reconsideration of the extent to which exigencies of racialization have preconditioned and prefigured modern discourses governing the nonhuman. Ultimately, The Blackness of Space reveals the pernicious peculiarity of both prevailing foundational conceptions of ‘the human’ rooted in Renaissance and Enlightenment humanism and current ‘multiculturalist’ alternatives. What emerges from this questioning is an emphatically queer sense of being/knowing/feeling human, one that necessarily disrupts the foundations of the current hegemonic mode of the Human.”

(Hopefully) Upcoming Work

I’ve submitted three abstracts in the past week, each for an exciting event and each, should I be accepted, allowing me to work out what might become important ideas for my dissertation.

So far, I’ve been very lucky in terms of the conferences I’ve participated in and the amount of help they’ve provided in developing ideas. The ideas in each of these abstracts will have to be worked out sooner or later but I really prefer to do that work in collaboration.

In addition, I’m confirmed to present an excerpt from my “Uncanny Meat” essay:

The organizers for this event are editing a special issue of Caliban, a French Journal of American Studies, titled “Planète en partage/Sharing the Planet” and so I’m hoping to put the finishing touches on the essay and, finally, publishing it.

Freud’s Cellular Unconscious

This week’s EMC readings include Freud’s Project for a Scientific Psychology (1895) and Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920). This week we begin our shift from looking at configurations of the organism in the works of Natural History to how the organism is configured within various philosophical projects; often with the purpose of onto-epistemological modeling. Along with Freud, we will also be looking at the works of Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze.

Part of my reason for including Freud among these thinkers was his use of “the organism” as a model for understanding the ego’s relation to the external (both as world and as stimuli) as well internal (where the stimuli is a frenetic, unmediated degree of intensity which is nonetheless more “commensurate with the system’s method of working than the stimuli which stream in from the external world” (28)). In fact, in the opening pages of BPP, he cites the 1873 work of G.T.  Feschner, Einige Ideen zur Schöpfungs und Entwickelungsgeschichte der Organismen (something like Some Ideas on the Creation and Evolution of Organisms).

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Uexküll’s Figure 16: The Snail’s Moment

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From Jakob von Uexküll’s A Foray into the Worlds of Animals and Humans:

“A snail [Helix pomatia] is placed on a rubber ball which, because it is floating on water, can slide freely past beneath the snail. The snail’s shell is held in place by a clamp. The snail is thereby free to crawl and also stays in the same place. If one places a small stick at the foot of the snail, it will crawl up on it. But if one strikes the snail from one to three times a second with it, the snail will turn away. However, if the blows are repeated four or more times a second, the snail begins to crawl on the stick. In the snail’s environment, a stick that moves back and forth four or more times a second must be at rest. We can conclude from this that the perception time of the snail takes place at a speed of between three and four moments a second. This has a result that all processes of motion take place much more quickly in the snail’s environment than they do in our own. Even the snail’s own movements do not seem slower to it than ours do to us” (72).