Saturday, November 8, 2014

Digital Manifesto Archvie interviews Jeffrey Schnapp, Co-Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society

The Digital Manifesto Archive interviews Jeffrey Schnapp (Professor of Romance Languages & Literatures @ Harvard University, Co-Director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society) about The Digital Humanities Manifesto and the history and future of the digital humanities.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

CFP: When Species Invade: Towards a Political Invasion Ecology (at DOPE Conference).

When Species Invade: Towards a Political Invasion Ecology.
Dimensions of Political Ecology (DOPE) Conference | University of Kentucky | Lexington, KY | 26-28 February 2015
Organizers: Matthew Rosenblum (University of Kentucky), Laura Ogden (Dartmouth College)

Scholars from a range of fields loosely organized under the banner of ‘political ecology’ have become increasingly attentive to the lives of non-human beings. Political ecologists in geography have situated their research in sites as diverse as the laboratory and the slaughterhouse, spaces where non-human life is made and unmade, to the end of showing the relevance of non-human bodies in socio-spatial processes. The turn toward affect, experimentation, and liveliness in the ecological humanities and social sciences has produced fruitful accounts of the intimacies involved in ‘when species meet’ but has left much about the being ‘out of place,’ the radically contingent, irredeemably destructive, or invasive species, yet to be said. What has been said in the social sciences, and indeed even in the natural sciences, is often preoccupied with the existing vocabularies of invasiveness and the ways in which the rhetoric of invasion ecology is linked to rhetoric’s of colonialism, nationalism (Olwig 2003, Groning & Wolschke-Bulmahn 2003), xenophobia (Subramaniam 2001), etc., with attention to how these emotive and value-laden discourses implicate the practice of conservation biology Of course the link between the discourses of the natural sciences and modes of human marginalization is important since such taxonomic strategies have facilitated “beastly behavior toward the animalized and the naturalized” (Coates 2006; 135). But beyond these anthropocentric arguments which problematize invasion ecology largely because of its effect on human communities are the violently excluded bodies of the invasive and the feral. In many ways the popular discussions of invasiveness have abounded to the detriment of exploring questions of how metaphor and discourse motivate agents to act upon the world (Bono 2003), to what end these actions endeavor towards, and whether or not those actions are commensurate with a worthwhile ethical framework. After all, “the search for a precise lexicon of terms and concepts in invasion ecology is not driven by concerns for just semantics” (Pyšek et al. 2004; 131), it is about action, and surely a process of categorization that is meant to decide which beings belong and which do not has real, felt, material, consequences. While the discursive focus takes furry, leafy, and other invasive bodies as its object, these beings are, ironically absent. Discussions about what nomenclature is best suited to categorize certain forms of nonhuman life have virtually ignored the fact that the practice of invasion ecology implicates humans as well as nonhumans in an economy of violence directed at the attainment of a certain ecological ideal (Robbins & Moore 2013) through the use of “quarantine, eradication, and control” (Elton [1958] 2000; 110). In this light, even many of the most critically aware scholars has failed to ask questions about the value of invasive lives and whether killing them is in line with a truly political ecology, one that views “ecological systems as power-laden rather than politically inert” (Robbins 2012; 13)- one that includes non-human lives as subjects of politics rather than mere objects of human fascination.

The aim of this session is to move beyond the discourse of invasiveness to explore alternative ways of both politicizing the science and practice of invasion ecology and bringing invasive entities, both alive and dead back into the discussions that implicate them. Topics might include, but should not be limited to:
-Queer critiques of ecological futurism
-Emotional geographies of ecological loss
-The ‘invasavore’ movement
-Non-constructivist approaches to invasiveness
-The biopolitics of invasive species management
-New directions in the discussion of the rhetoric of invasiveness
-The conflict between environmental ethics and animal ethics
-Invasiveness and landscape studies
-Animal Diaspora and non-human mobility
-Political ecologies of bordering
-Hunting power
-Invasiveness and the politics of the Anthropocene
-‘Novel ecologies’ and engagements with scientific concepts such as equilibrium, resilience, etc.  
Anyone interested in participating in the session should send an abstract of 500 words or less to by November 10th, 2014. Participants must also register at the conference website: by the registration deadline of November 17th 2014.

Bono, J. J. "Why Metaphor? Toward a Metaphorics of Scientific Practice." Science Studies: Probing the Dynamics of Scientific Knowledge. Ed. Sabine Maasen and Matthias Winterhager. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag, 2001. 215-33.
Coates, Peter. American Perceptions of Immigrant and Invasive Species: Strangers on the Land. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006
Elton, Charles S. The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants. Chicago: U of Chicago, [1958] 2000.
Groning, Gert, and Joachim Wolschke-Bulmahn. "The Native Plant Enthusiasm: Ecological Panacea or Xenophobia?" Landscape Research28.1 (2003): 75-88.
Olwig, Kenneth R. "Natives and Aliens in the National Landscape." Landscape Research 28.1 (2003): 61-74.
Pyšek, Petr, David M. Richardson, Marcel Rejmánek, Grady L. Webster, Mark Williamson, Jan Kirschner, Petr Pysek, and Marcel Rejmanek. "Alien Plants in Checklists and Floras: Towards Better Communication between Taxonomists and Ecologists." Taxon 53.1 (2004): 131.
Robbins, Paul. Political Ecology: A Critical Introduction. Maiden, MA: Blackwell, 2012.
Robbins, Paul, and S. A. Moore. "Ecological Anxiety Disorder: Diagnosing the Politics of the Anthropocene." Cultural Geographies 20.1 (2013): 3-19.
Subramaniam, Banu. "The Aliens Have Landed! Reflections on the Rhetoric of Biological Invasions." Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 2.1 (2001): 26-40.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Forthcoming titles in Italian Philosophy (plus a French one)

First the French:

Grégoire Chamayou -- A Theory of the Drone.
Grégoire Chamayou, who we have talked about before, has a book coming out January, 2015.

Drone warfare has raised profound ethical and constitutional questions both in the halls of Congress and among the U.S. public. Not since debates over nuclear warfare has American military strategy been the subject of discussion in living rooms, classrooms, and houses of worship. Yet as this groundbreaking new work shows, the full implications of drones have barely been addressed in the recent media storm.
In a unique take on a subject that has grabbed headlines and is consuming billions of taxpayer dollars each year, philosopher Grégoire Chamayou applies the lens of philosophy to our understanding of how drones are changing our world. For the first time in history, a state has claimed the right to wage war across a mobile battlefield that potentially spans the globe. Remote-control flying weapons, he argues, take us well beyond even George W. Bush’s justification for the war on terror.
What we are seeing is a fundamental transformation of the laws of war that have defined military conflict as between combatants. As more and more drones are launched into battle, war now has the potential to transform into a realm of secretive, targeted assassinations of individuals—beyond the view and control not only of potential enemies but also of citizens of democracies themselves. Far more than a simple technology, Chamayou shows, drones are profoundly influencing what it means for a democracy to wage war. A Theory of the Drone will be essential reading for all who care about this important question.

Now the Italians:

Maurizio Lazzarato -- Governing by Debt, due out February, 2015.

Experts, pundits, and politicians agree: public debt is hindering growth and increasing unemployment. Governments must reduce debt at all cost if they want to restore confidence and get back on a path to prosperity. Maurizio Lazzarato's diagnosis, however, is completely different: under capitalism, debt is not primarily a question of budget and economic concerns but a political relation of subjection and enslavement. Debt has become infinite and unpayable. It disciplines populations, calls for structural reforms, justifies authoritarian crackdowns, and even legitimizes the suspension of democracy in favor of "technocratic governments" beholden to the interests of capital. The 2008 economic crisis only accelerated the establishment of a "new State capitalism," which has carried out a massive confiscation of societies' wealth through taxes. And who benefits? Finance capital. In a calamitous return to the situation before the two world wars, the entire process of accumulation is now governed by finance, which has absorbed sectors it once ignored, like higher education, and today is often identified with life itself. Faced with the current catastrophe and the disaster to come, Lazzarato contends, we must overcome capitalist valorization and reappropriate our existence, knowledge, and technology.
In Governing by Debt, Lazzarato confronts a wide range of thinkers -- from Félix Guattari and Michel Foucault to David Graeber and Carl Schmitt -- and draws on examples from the United States and Europe to argue that it is time that we unite in a collective refusal of this most dire status quo.

Maurizio Ferraris -- Manifesto of New Realism, due out December, 2014.

Retraces the history of postmodern philosophy and proposes solutions to overcome its impasses.
Philosophical realism has taken a number of different forms, each applied to different topics and set against different forms of idealism and subjectivism. Maurizio Ferraris’s Manifesto of New Realism takes aim at postmodernism and hermeneutics, arguing against their emphasis on reality as constructed and interpreted. While acknowledging the value of these criticisms of traditional, dogmatic realism, Ferraris insists that the insights of postmodernism have reached a dead end. Calling for the discipline to turn its focus back to truth and the external world, Ferraris’s manifesto—which sparked lively debate in Italy and beyond—offers a wiser realism with social and political relevance.

Paolo Virno -- Deja Vu and the End of History, due out February, 2015.

This book places two key notions up against each other to imagine a new way of conceptualizing historical time. How do the experience of déjà vu and the idea of the “End of History” relate to one another? Through thinkers like Bergson, Kojève and Nietzsche, Virno explores these constructs of memory and the passage of time. In showing how the experience of time becomes historical, Virno considers two fundamental concepts from Western philosophy: Power and The Act. Through these, he elegantly constructs a radical new theory of historical temporality.

Paolo Virno -- When the Word Becomes Flesh: Language and Human Nature, due out May, 2015.

Originally published in Italian in 2002, When the Word Becomes Flesh provides a compelling contribution to the understanding of language and its relation to human nature and social relationships. Adopting Aristotle's definition of the human being as a linguistic and political animal, Paolo Virno frames the act of speech as a foundational philosophical issue -- an act that in its purely performative essence ultimately determines our ability to pass from the state of possibility to one of actuality: that is, from the power to act to action itself. As the ultimate public act, speech reveals itself to be an intrinsically political practice mediating between biological invariants and changing historical determinations. In his most complete reflection on the topic to date, Virno shows how language directly expresses the conditions of possibility for our experience, from both a transcendental and a biological point of view.
Drawing on the work of such twentieth-century giants as Ferdinand de Saussure, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Edmund Husserl, and Gottlob Frege, Virno constructs a powerful linguistic meditation on the political challenges faced by the human species in the twenty-first century. It is in language that human nature and our historical potentialities are fully revealed, and it is language that can guide us toward a more aware and purposeful realization of them.