A one-day conference about capitalism, work and the body
Birkbeck, University of London // Saturday 8th December 2018
How are bodies produced under capitalism?
How, in turn, does capitalism make bodies productive?
How is the body (and knowledge of the body) shaped by demands of production, consumption and exchange, and how can these logics be resisted, challenged and overcome?
These are the questions at the heart of François Guéry and Didier Deleule’s Productive Body. First published in French in 1972, The Productive Body asks how the human body and its labour have been expropriated and re-engineered through successive stages of capitalism. The Productive Body challenges us to rethink the relationships between the biological and the social; the body and the mind; power and knowledge; discipline and control. Finally, it invites us to think about the body as a site of resistance and revolutionary potential.
At this one-day, interdisciplinary conference, we invite scholars and activists to assess the contribution of The Productive Body, and to address its relevance as a theoretical tool for understanding and challenging contemporary ideologies of bodily health, efficiency and productivity.
We invite submissions from scholars, activists and artists for 20-minute papers, or 10-minute provocations on the relationships – past and present – between capitalism, work and the body. Collaborative papers are welcome, and proposals for longer workshops and panel discussions will also be considered. Please contact the organisers if you are unsure. Proposals that explore or are inspired by any of the following areas are welcome:
- Critical responses to Guéry and Deleule – the biological, the social, and the productive
- Materialist vs. discursive approaches to the history of the body
- Conceptualising discipline in Marx and Foucault
- The body as an object of discipline vs. the body as a site of dissent
- The psychology and corporeality of activism, organising and resistance
- Hierarchies of gender and race in the division of labour
- (Re)productive bodies; intimate and emotional labour, sex work, body work
- How are ideas of health and disability shaped by the demands of wage labour?
- How do queer bodies disrupt or challenge logics of productivity? How are queer bodies in turn, commodified or appropriated by capital?
- How do the demands of productivity complicate/interact with the body as a site of intimacy?
- Biopolitics and neoliberalism
- Body-machines – technology and automation; robotics, cybernetics and transhumanism; digital surveillance, ‘lifelogging’ and the ‘quantified self’
- Counterproductive bodies: pre-capitalist, non-capitalist, and post-capitalist bodies
Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday 24th August 2018. Submissions are especially encouraged from graduate students, early-career researchers, and groups typically underrepresented in the academy.
Image credit: Workers at the AWA factory, Ashfield, NSW, 1936. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AWA1936.jpg