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Somatechnics International Conference

Missing Links: The Somatechnics of Decolonisation


Linköping University, Sweden
June 17-19, 2013

Keynote speakers: Sara Ahmed, Susan Stryker, Alexa Wright, Jasbir Puar, Madina Tlostanova, Catherine Waldby

Roundtable speakers include: Ulrika Dahl, Monica Casper and Jenny Sundén

Announcement and Call for Papers

We are pleased to announce the 7th international Somatechnics Conference. The idea of somatechnics, which has gained wide critical currency since it was first coined, reflects an understanding of corporeality, embodied subjectivity and sociality as always already produced by, and imbricated with, a wide range of contextual practices, technologies and techniques.

Victorian pseudo-anthropology’s fascination with ‘missing links’ derived from a racialist imaginary that equated darkness with primitivity and animality, and whiteness with superiority, and that conjoined the pursuit of Western scientific knowledge with practices of empire and colonization. In this conference we seek to decolonize and reclaim the concept of ‘missing links’ by investigating not only territories or the individual bodies supposedly found there, but  the ‘somatechnical’ linkages between them —those very practices of settlement, coercion, cultivation, exploitation, seduction, and domestication that transform individual corporealities into aggregate bodies politic. Think, for example, freak show displays, ethnographies and visual representations of the colonial other, prosthetic technologies to enhance the disabled body, gender reassignment strategies or zoos. It is a mode of analysis that can extend and deepen many contemporary interdisciplinary accounts of embodiment and biopolitical forms.

The decolonisation of bodies requires making critical connections across putatively different arenas of inquiry - such as postcolonial, indigenous, queer, trans, crip, feminist, critical race, animal, science and technology studies, to name but a few - in order to better conceptualize the intimate and diverse means through which colonization of all types is sustained and reproduced. It necessitates an analysis of the concrete, specific, and material means and processes through which bodies achieve their essentialized (yet historically contingent) forms as racialized, sexed, dis/abled or as natural inhabitants of a land—processes whose operations are masked by their traversal of macro- and micro- scales of organization and management. Equally the divisions of knowledge and affect within the dominant epistemological frame work to prevent us from grasping the extent of the relevant phenomena. Breaking down the segregation of thought within contemporary critical inquiry thus serves a vital political need and calls attention to perhaps unexpected sites of pragmatic decolonial actions, while simultaneously informing new visions of liveable and just social orders.

We invite papers from any relevant area of enquiry – history, philosophy, postcolonial theory, critical disability studies, feminism, queer theory and more – that engage with and unsettle the notion of missing links.   


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Last updated: Mon Jun 17 10:44:53 CEST 2013