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Cultural Literacy in Contemporary Europe - 2nd Workshop: Biopolitics, Biosociality and the Body

Location St. Gallen, Switzerland
Date 30 - 31 August 2010
Calendar file .vcs  .ics

Over the past decades, the ontological status of the human body has become more and more questionable. The idea of the body as something naturally given which by definition precedes culture was securely anchored during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the traditional nature-culture-opposition.

The deciphering of the human genome, which led Paul Rabinow to create the term ‘biosociality’ and similar developments, have changed the perception of the body. From being a given entity, the body is now perceived as being insolubly tied into cultural processes, of ‘making sense’ itself at some level while being a cultural artefact - and thus, in and through its very ‘nature’, being subject to political strategies which are methodologically encoded in the term ‘biopolitics’. This emerging concept of the body implies a breaking-down of the boundaries between nature and culture which echoes the current breaking-down of the traditional boundaries between academic disciplines, opening up new avenues for critical research on the cultural phenomenon of the ‘human body’.

The strategic imperatives to be discussed and advanced by the workshop are the following:

  • Identifying areas of structural interference between LCS and the so-called 'hard sciences', specifically interference based on the use of LCS paradigms (textuality, fictionality, rhetoricity) in the process of building 'hard sciences' knowledge
  • Discussing the possible - practical, ethical, social, economic – consequences stemming from the collapse of the boundaries between culture and nature for the human body
  • Diagnosing the dialectical relationship between scientific and technological progress and cultural projections of the human body, specifically establishing the yet mostly unrecognized historical depth of this relationship
  • Identifying functional and efficient techniques to use the culturally encoded knowledge of the human body in life sciences' working contexts and vice versa.

The workshop will seek to develop a portfolio of suggestions and recommendations on how to establish and broaden cultural literacy concerning the human body both for academic and for non-academic use; further, it will identify policy areas and stakeholders with a vital interest in gaining efficiency dealing with the human body (e.g. health services) and draw them into a dialogue on how to improve on the coordination of research between LCS and their areas of expertise.

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Initiative Chaired by

Dr. Marc Caball
University College, Dublin, IE

Prof. Naomi Segal
IGRS, University of London, UK

Workshop Chaired by

Prof Ulrike Landfester
University of St Gallen, CH

Prof Lea Rojola
University of Turku, FI

Steering Committee

Prof Leopoldina Fortunati
University of Udine, IT

Prof Margaret Kelleher
National University of Ireland, Maynooth, IE

Prof Daniela Koleva
University of Sofia, BG

Prof Ulrike Landfester
University of St Gallen, CH

Prof Lea Rojola
University of Turku, FI

Prof Sibel Irzik
Sabanci University, TR

Contact Information

Francesca Boscolo
Science Officer
COST Office
Avenue Louise 149
B-1050 Brussels
Tel. +32 2 533 3830