[Air-L] CFP: The Politics and Aesthetics of Posthumanism

Carmel Vaisman carmelv at gmail.com
Wed Nov 6 00:15:40 PST 2013

Dear colleagues,

Every IR conference, whether I'm present or tuned in via Twitter, I hear
the struggle to theorize our discipline more broadly and transcend the
boundaries of the disciplines we come from. For me personally, the emerging
theory/ POV of Posthumanism provides that multidisciplinary frame, its
complexity allowing both inclusion and criticism of issues in digital
culture. I have managed to push the importance of this framework into the
discourse of our faculty and I'm excited to announce that we are organizing
an international conference accompanied by an art exhibition around it.

Our keynotes will be Professor Sheryyl Vint and Dr. Stefan Herbrechter
which will be involved also in the art exhibition with surprising angles....
I'm wondering if any of you or your colleagues that might not be on this
list, would like to take a trip to Tel Aviv in May and join us. Full CFP
text is below, if you want to get the CFP in a designed pdf format please
email me, and don't worry about the deadline, it's for locals, we will
extend it for internationals.

I appreciate your help in spreading the word and hope to see some of you

Carmel Vaisman, PhD.
The Multidisciplinary Program in the Humanities
Tel Aviv Unviersity
carmell at post.tau.acil



*The Politics & Esthetics of Post Humanism*

*International Conference, 18-20 May, 2014*

Tel-Aviv University & The Midrasha New Center for Art, Culture & Education,
Tel Aviv

*Exhibition, 15 May - 26 June, 2014*

The Midrasha New Center for Art, Culture & Education, Tel Aviv

Hosted in collaboration by:

The Multidisciplinary Program in Humanities, Tel-Aviv University

The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas,
Tel-Aviv University

Hamideasha Faculty of Arts, Beit Berl Academic College

*Deadline: 15.12.2013 /  gstudies at post.tau.ac.il <gstudies at post.tau.ac.il>*

A recent graffiti sprayed in the center of Tel Aviv raises the question
that has reverberated within critical discourse over the past decade: "And
what's after postmodernism?" There are those who believe that the probable
answer to this question is "post-humanism", a paradigm that is in many
respects the direct and obvious continuation of postmodernism. Or as
Katherine Hayles underscored in her 1999 seminal book, post-humanism is
embodied in the act of deconstruction performed on the humanist liberal
concept of "the human."1 The mechanism

of deconstruction continues to dismantle the humanist tradition and reaches
its peak in the attempt to deconstruct the very essence of humanity itself.
In other words, the ideology of the post-human condition challenges the
very uniqueness of humankind in relation to other forms of life -- hybrid
forms for example – and is no longer satisfied with merely questioning the
traditional position of mankind at the center or at the peak of the *great
chain of being *as in the past.

Currently, the most influential post-humanist trend is that of
Trans-humanism, an ideology and perhaps even a social movement that seeks
to develop and employ technologies, particularly digital ones, to turn
humankind into a new superior techno-biological entity, intellectually,
physically, biologically and psychologically enhanced. Thus, some utopian
versions of Trans-humanism perceive technology to be a form of life, almost
a kind of organism in itself, and believe that merging with it is simply a
"natural" evolutionary step. These versions have spawned a discourse of
re-enchantment with science and technology to the extent of establishing an
almost messianic techno-religious-spiritual vision (*singularity *as
redemption, for example), constituting, in effect, an apolitical ideology.
Yet even in its non-utopian version, namely in the "classic" techno
optimistic discourse, Trans-humanism follows the humanistic path of
improving and perfecting human life by means of science and technology,
although it does so nowadays by crossing boundaries and reaching the
threshold of extreme technological optimism.

In the opposing camp there are those who commend post-humanist ideology for
reassessing and challenging humanist thought and tradition, and for thereby
identifying in humanism the source of the environmental and social problems
that we face today, such as the global economic crisis and other
undesirable consequences of globalization. They believe that the humanist
paradigm fails to understand (and fails to comprehend) the significance of
people's over attachment to screens and the psycho cognitive changes that
this brings about, and is therefore unable to create a holistic world in
which reciprocal relations between subject and object can be maintained.
Post-humanism, so these protagonists propose, constitutes therefore an
opportunity to indulge in activist thinking which may articulate a new
understanding of a variety of concepts such as "self," "machine," "body,"
"consciousness," "intelligence," "causality," "intimacy," "identity" and

Be that as it may, the post-humanist paradigm, with the trends, risks and
paradoxes it contains, entails new forms of politics and aesthetics whose
influence on popular culture, and on public and scientific discourse is
rapidly growing. The post-humanist condition, thus calls for a new,
incisive and multidisciplinary discussion of the ancient problem of
Men-Machine's relationship, and poses the question of whether we are
witnessing a new level of technological determinism that extends beyond the
traditional dichotomous discourse of techno-utopia versus techno-dystopia.

The conference, a product of the collaboration between Tel Aviv
University’s Multidisciplinary Program in the Humanities and the Cohen
Institute for the History and Philosophy of the Sciences and Ideas, and
Beit Berl College's Midrasha Faculty of the Arts, will focus on these
issues as well as related topics. The conference is unique in that it seeks
to merge academic, research-oriented and theoretical discourse with
artistic projects and ideas. To this end, there will be an Art & Science
exhibition alongside the academic panels, in which projects and initiatives
by individuals and groups will be displayed. We invite scholars from
various disciplines (including history, philosophy, cultural studies, art
theory, communication, law, sociology, psychology, biology, computer
studies and medicine) to submit proposals for lectures,

and we welcome proposals in a variety of formats that will suit the
exhibition from those who engage with these issues as artists, as hackers
who make activist use of technology, as designers, and as people who are
active in the field of visual culture.

*A partial list of possible topics*

• Trans-humanism and the evolution of the "self"

• Neuropsychology; the brain between biology and electronics

• The cyborg: biological reality or social construction?

• Post-humanism and gender: on feminism in the age of the cyborg

• Remote warfare: robots, cyborgs and the ethics of the battlefield

• Post-humanism as a social phenomenon or the social ontology of networks

• Technological ideology and the new capitalism

• The psycho-physical question and post-humanist ideology

• Philosophical aspects: Knowledge and actuality in the era of thinking

• Collective networks and intelligence

• On the theology of technology, or technology as redemption

• Issues in the history of relations between technology and humanity: from
the mechanical to the digital

• Technology and immortality, or between life and supra-life in the world
of the network

• The cybernetic sphere: the dialectics of the new media

• Representations and images of post-humanism and intelligent technology in
art, film and literature

• Comics and science fiction: from the romanticism of super-heroes to the
practicality of the cyborg

• Ludologia: post-humanism and the new science of game-studies

*The Conference Structure*

The conference will comprise separate panels, within each of which three 25
minute-long lectures will be delivered. Lectures by a number of guests from
abroad will be delivered during the conference. Responders will be invited
to these lectures. However, all conference participants will be invited to
participate in the discussion.

Please submit your proposal according to the following format:

*A. Cover page and title of the lecture*

• The names of the submitters and their institutional affiliation

• The submitter's email address and telephone number

• Type of proposal (lecture or art work)

*B. Proposal*

• Lecture abstract (no more than 500 words)

• Concise bibliography


Proposals should be submitted by email to gstudies at post.tau.ac.il by
December 15, 2013. Replies will be sent no later than February 1, 2014.

*Members of the Academic Committee*

Prof. Moshe Zuckerman, Dr. Carmel Vaisman, Dr. Noah Gedi, Dr. Ehud Lam, Dr.
Doron Friedman, Dr. Miri Segal, Dr. Ofer Nordheimer Nur, Dr. Moshe
Elhanati, Mr. Daniel Landau, Mr. Udi Edelman

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