Matter, Life and Resistance Conference programme

Matter, Life and Resistance conference Programme (PDF)

MONDAY 1st JULY 2013

8.30 am – 9 am ––– Registration in Woolf College (all talks will take place in Woolf College Seminar Room 6 the first day, and the morning of the second day)

9 am –  10.30 am ––– Keynote 1

Sjoerd van Tuinen (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
‘Speculating with Established Sentiments’

10.30 am – 11 am ––– Coffee

11 am – 12 pm ––– Session 1

Chantal Nadeau (University of Illinois)
‘Courage, queers, and a post-immunity politics’

Maria Hynes (Australian National University)
‘Creative Life and the Sensation of Resistance’

12 pm – 1 pm ––– Session 2

Boštjan Nedoh (Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts)
Biopolitics between alive and undead: on the limits of Roberto Esposito’s affirmative biopolitics

Jan Smolenski (The New School for Social Research)
‘Mysterious Charm of Sovereignty: Giorgio Agamben’s Homo Sacer and the Problem of Constituent Power’

1 pm – 2 pm ––– Lunch

2 pm – 3 pm ––– Session 3

James Fowler (University of Kent)
‘Against Convents: Political Extensions of Materialism in D’Alembert’s Dream, the Supplement to Bougainville’s Journey and The Nun, by Diderot’

Charles Devellennes (University of Kent)
‘Diderot and the atheists. Unorthodox disbelief in the coterie holbachique.’

3 pm – 4 pm ––– Session 4

Rob Brooks (Independent Researcher)
‘Medicine, Physiology and Biology in early 19th century Positivism: the case of Xavier Bichat’

Alice Everly (University of Memphis)
‘The Obstinacy of Living Objects: Life as Resistance in Stengers’ The Invention of Modern Science

4 pm – 4.30 pm ––– Coffee

4.30 pm – 5.30 pm ––– Session 5

Giorgos Sotiropoulos (Democritus University of Thrace)
‘Notes on a materialist theory of justice’

Ward Blanton (University of Kent)
‘Why Does a New Materialism Involve a Repetition of Paulinism?  Thoughts on the Scripturalization of ‘68’

5.30 pm – 6.30 pm ––– Session 6

Riccardo Baldissone (Birkbeck College, University of London)
‘The Prostheticity of Beings and the Production of Objects as Matter of Concern: Some Genealogical Notes for a Caring Obituary of Modern Materialisms’

Christopher Mountenay (Duquesne University)
‘Apeiron and Noumena: Nietzsche on Anaximander and German Idealism’

6.30 pm – 7.30 pm ––– Wine reception and art exhibition

8 pm ––– Conference dinner in town at the Italian restaurant Posillipo.



9 am –  10.30 am ––– Keynote 2

Samantha Frost (University of Illinois)
‘Life and Resistance to Life’

10.30 am – 11 am ––– Coffee

11 am – 12 pm ––– Session 7

Ionut Untea (École Pratique des Hautes Études Paris)
‘The Rolling Stone: Motion, Internal Resistance and the Early Modern quest for a Science of Prophecy in the Seventeenth-Century England’

Noel Boulting
‘Three Accounts of Resistance in Hobbes’ Political Philosophy’

12 pm – 1 pm ––– Session 8

Filippo Menozzi (University of Kent)
‘Spinoza against Empire: Resistances in Post-colonial Biopolitics’

Nikos Sotirakopoulos (University of Kent)
‘Lifestyle activism and social movements: the end of radical politics? (And why post-structuralism is not to blame)’

1 pm – 2 pm ––– Lunch (at the Gulbenkian Café)

2 pm –– The conference reconvenes in the Stanley Rogers Room (Rutherford College)

2 pm – 3 pm ––– Session 9 

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos (University of Westminster)
‘Atmosphere of Law: Air, Space, Bodies’

Nuno Rodrigues (Middlesex University)
‘Life and Machines’

3 pm – 4 pm ––– Session 10

Ben Turner (University of Kent)
‘Dogmatic or Politicized Objects? Objects, Ontology and Politics in Harman & Stiegler’

Paul Rekret (Richmond University)
‘Two Routes from the ‘Correlate’’

4 pm – 4.30 pm ––– Coffee

4.30 pm – 5.30 pm ––– Session 11

Dorothy Kwek (Universität Konstanz)
‘A Useless Tree. A Cross-Cultural Contribution to Political Ecology from Zhuangzi

Simon Choat (Kingston University)
‘New materialism: a historical materialist critique’

Matter, Life and Resistance conference

Call for papers: Matter, Life, and Resistance (1st-2nd July 2013)
A two-day international conference in political theory.
Organised by the Centre for Critical Thought, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK.

Keynote speakers:
Samantha Frost, University of Illinois, USA.
Sjoerd van Tuinen, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Conference themes:
In the last decade, political theory has highlighted the importance of theories of materialism, vitalism, and resistance as themes in both the history of the discipline and with regards to the challenges posed to it by recent scientific advancements. These new trends in political theory have emphasised similarities in theoretical debates in physics and biology (for example chaos theory, complexity, autopoiesis, advances in the neurosciences) and philosophies from the 1960s-1970s (biopolitics, conceptions of agency, environmentalism, ‘new materialisms’, etc.).

This conference proposes to explore themes around the concepts of matter, life, and resistance that crossover between scientific theories and political thought. From the materialism of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries onwards, political thought has been informed, influenced and shaped by debates and theories in the sciences. Political philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, Diderot and d’Holbach also played a key role in other sciences, and studying the relationship between their scientific works and their political philosophy is key to understanding their thought and its influence on later thinkers. In the nineteenth century, the question becomes whether Nietzsche’s voluntarist and vitalist philosophy can help us understand the changes in scientific conceptions of life and its evolution. Are Thoreau’s reconceptualisations of nature and the wild acts of resistance?

While poststructuralists have been accused of turning away from politics in favour of discourse and relativism, they have attempted in different ways to take into account the event and difference in dialogue with twentieth century science. Beyond the simple rejection of agency, recent interpretations of poststructuralism and some contemporary philosophers (Malabou, Stiegler, Latour, Bennett) have shifted the debate to plasticity, technical life, and relations to non-humans. What are the political consequences of this shift? What is the place of the concepts of matter, life and resistance for these thinkers?

Possible areas of contribution:
–  Reinterpreting the history of political thought: 17th and 18th century materialists.
–  Vitalism in the 19th century: life, nature, and the wild.
–  What is ‘new’ about new materialism?
–  Connecting poststructuralist conceptualisation of life, matter and resistance with biology and the neurosciences (ontogenesis, transductive relations, plasticity, synaptogenesis).
–  Consequences of speculative materialism in political theory.
–  Can vitalism and materialism be reconciled?

The conference will be free of charge and will have no parallel sessions.
A number of papers will be selected to feature in a special issue of a leading academic journal.

Please send your abstracts to: by 5th May 2013.

If you wish to contact the organisers, please get in touch with Charles Devellennes, and Benoît Dillet,