From: Vasuki Shanmuganathan <>

MATTERS OF LIFE AND DEATH - extended deadline 22/01/08
A workshop exploring how life is managed, commodified and objectified
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
Munk Centre at the University of Toronto.

An interdisciplinary group of graduate students at the University of
Toronto is organizing - Matters of Life and Death - in order to grapple
with key questions on the theoretical horizon in many disciplines:
What constitutes life and how is this life managed, commodified, and
objectified? Why do we count the death of a Canadian soldier instead
of the life of an Afghani civilian? Does life matter differently in
laboratories than it does in the community? Does life matter more in
the hospital room than it does on the battlefields of Iraq?

Building from, yet moving beyond Foucault's biopolitics and biopower
and Marx's materialist view of life within the structures of labour
and value, this workshop will grapple with questions that
theoretically and materially categorize "life". While a political
project around death seems implausible, the definition of good,
healthy, and wealthy lives is always in continuous distinction from
those who are allowed to die or suffer. Hence, life and the politics
of life is not easily defined or solidified into concrete

Our workshop will provide a forum for graduate students researching
questions concerning the politics of life and death. These frameworks
are ones that, broadly speaking, seek to chart the ways in which the
management of life and living beings is central to political projects
and economic strategies. Attention to the politics of life and of
death is a theoretical perspective used by scholars across various
disciplines in the humanities and social sciences to address a broad
range of issues
such as the production of economic and political inequality, the
relationships between health and politics, the creation of
marginalized populations, and the relationship between gender, class,
and race. In order to understand the multiple ways in which human
populations and living beings are represented and governed by
political and economic projects, a dialogue that crosses cultural and
disciplinary boundaries is crucial.

We welcome an expansive series of topics and disciplines and we hope
to foster diverse, supportive, and critical engagements with the
politics of life and death. From populations to bodies, bio-capital to
cyborgs, brine shrimp to urban decay, resistance to regulation,
immigration to securitization, inquiries will explore the politics of
life. Graduate students from a wide array of disciplines are invited
to participate in this workshop. We especially welcome those who seek
to investigate a similar problem from divergent analytic perspectives.
Life is not easily categorized and thus academic approaches are not

In bringing together different voices to explore the politics of life
we ask the following questions:
+ What constitutes life as the basis of a political/critical/progressive
+ What is the relationship between capitalism, regulation and the State?
+ What is the relationship between the macro/population and the
+ How are illness, disease and natural disasters related to the control
of populations?
+ How are developments in the life sciences related to the management
of populations?
+ How is the value of life determined?

Abstracts of 250 words and a short CV should be submitted to by January 22nd, 2008.

For more information, please visit

We will get back to all applicants by January 30th, 2008.

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