Date/Time: 23/09/2004 12:00 am
Culture Machine 7: biopolitics
ORGANIZZA: Middlesex University
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Call for papers
Editors for this issue:
Melinda Cooper and Andrew Goffey
The last two decades have witnessed an unprecedented economic, social and cultural valorisation of the life sciences and its technologies. While the integration of ‘biological life’into the strategies of capital accumulation is far from new, the scale, scope and modalities of the current endeavour surpass any previous attempts. The language of molecular biology has not only brought all the branches of the applied life sciences (agricultural, pharmaceutical, biomedical) under one genetic standard, it has also provided a pervasive set of tropes for the organisation and understanding of social relations and cultural exchange. At the same time, the extension of patent law to cover the generative elements of biological life is transforming our legal conceptions of invention, property and life itself. It is not surprising, then, that the same period has been one of intense theoretical debate within the life sciences, opposing the champions of genetic determinism to various anti-reductionist critiques, including the new perspectives opened up by chaos and complexity theory.
In the wake of the Human Genome Project, it could be argued that the ‘biotechnological revolution’is already entering its second ‘post-genomic’phase, embarking on new experiments in stem cell and tissue engineering as well as investing in the field of bioterrorism. It is all the more important, at this point, then, to take stock of both the recent past and emerging futures of the life sciences.
It is in the context of these events that the Foucauldian concept of ‘biopolitics’has acquired a renewed signficance within the humanities. Theorists such as Giorgio Agamben and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have extended the concept of ‘biopolitics’far beyond the original context in which Foucault deployed it, but with what effect? The indiscriminate use of the term ‘biopolitics’and its cognate ‘biopower’as it is currently encountered in the humanities tends to remain abstracted from the scientific, cultural and political complexities of the life sciences per se.
The aim of the Biopolitics issue of Culture Machine is to create a discursive space in which the life sciences and the humanities are open to mutual encounter and challenge. It is hoped that this will stimulate the development of a more productive and more focused theoretical framework for thinking through the question of ‘biopolitics’.
Contributions concerned with the contemporary social, cultural, techno-scientific, economic and political issues in and around the life sciences are currently sought. Interdisciplinary contributions are especially welcome.
Anyone with material they would like to submit for inclusion is invited to contact the editors for this issue:
Melinda Cooper Melinda.Cooper@scmp.mq.edu.au Andrew Goffey firstname.lastname@example.org
Final deadline for accepted articles: 15 October 2004
Dr Gary Hall
Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, Middlesex University Co-editor of Culture Machine http://www.culturemachine.net My website http://www.garyhall.info