Official conference hashtag: #QueerDeath2019
Welcome to the seminar “Queer Death Studies: Searching Points of Exit from Hegemonic Narratives” with Professor Margrit Schildrick and Dr. Marietta Radomska.
The seminar, held on the 28 of May (D 109) at 13-16, is organised by the Disgust Network in collaboration with Crises Redefined: Historical Continuity and Societal Change. Further details below.
Queer Death Studies Network, established in 2016, constitutes a space for researchers, students, artists, activists, and other practitioners who critically and (self) reflexively investigate and challenge conventional normativities, assumptions, expectations, and regimes of truths that are brought to life and made evident by death, dying, and mourning.
The conventional engagements with the questions of death, dying and mourning are insufficient and reductive: they are often governed by the normative notions of the subject; interhuman and human/nonhuman bonds; family relations and communities; rituals; and finally, experiences of grief, mourning, and bereavement. Moreover, these engagements are often embedded in constraining beliefs in life/death divides, constructed along the lines of conventional religious and/or scientific mind/body dualisms.
Against this background, Queer Death Studies serves as a site for ‘queering’ traditional ways of approaching death both as a subject of study and philosophical reflection, and as a phenomenon to articulate in artistic work or practices of mourning. Here, the notion of ‘queer’ conveys many meanings. It refers to researching and narrating death, dying and mourning in the context of queer bonds and communities, where the subjects involved/studied/interviewed and the relations they are involved in are recognised as ‘queer’. Simultaneously, the term ‘queer’ can also function as an adverb and a verb, referring thus to the processes of going beyond and unsettling (subverting, exceeding) binaries and given norms, normativities, and constraining conventions. In other words, ‘queer’ becomes both a process and a methodology that is applicable and exceeds the focus on gender and sexuality as its exclusive concerns.
This seminar brings together papers by two scholars whose work is embedded in the field of Queer Death Studies and who’s been active in the formation and development of QDSN.
I offer a philosophical examination and queering of the social imaginaries of the dead – with specific reference to the recent public disclosures about death in Ireland’s Mother and Baby Homes – by looking at the issue of spectrality through the work of Derrida and others. What does it mean to respond to the dead, who, though temporarily forgotten, return to haunt us not as remembered human beings but as remnants or remainders? The normative distinctions between past and present; past, present and future; between living and non-living; absence and presence; and self and other are all made indistinct when displaced by a non-linear temporality. What differential is in play with respect to those who are grievable (as Butler has it) and the others who constitute bare life (Agamben)? Following the re/discovery of those dead lost to public discourse, the strategy of memorialisation seems inadequate. I will outline instead an alternative hauntological ethics, as suggested by Derrida, and ask if there are queer social imaginaries that allow us to live well with the dead not because we give them respect, but because death itself has been rethought? I will close with some speculations arising from Deleuze’s understanding of vitalism and Braidotti’s optimistic claim that ‘death frees us into life’.
Margrit Shildrick, PhD is Guest Professor of Gender and Knowledge Production at Stockholm University. Her research covers postmodern feminist and cultural theory, bioethics, critical disability studies and body theory. Books include Leaky Bodies and Boundaries (1997), Embodying the Monster (2002) and Dangerous Discourses of Disability, Sexuality and Subjectivity (2009), as well as several edited collections and many journal articles. Most recently, she has been addressing the socio-political and embodied conjunction of microchimerism, immunology, corporeal anomaly and death.
In the contemporary context of environmental crises and the degradation of food and water resources, certain habitats become unliveable, leading to the death of individuals, populations and species extinction. Whilst bioscience emphasises interdependency and relationality as crucial characteristics of life shared by all organisms, Western cultural imaginaries tend to draw a thick dividing line between humans and nonhumans, particularly evident in the context of death. On the one hand, death appears as a process common to all forms of life; on the other, as an event that distinguishes human from other organisms (e.g. Heidegger 2010 (1953)).
Against this background, this paper explores how contemporary art – in particular, the series of works The Absence of Alice (2008-2011) by Australian new-media and bioartist Svenja Kratz – challenges the normative and human-exceptionalist concept of death. By employing queerfeminist biophilosophy (Thacker 2008; Radomska 2016) as a strategy that focuses on relations, processes and transformations instead of ‘essences’, the paper examines the ways Kratz’s works – read through feminist-materialist theorising – deterritorialise (Deleuze & Guattari 2004) the conventional concept of death. In this way, it hopes to attend to the intimacies between materialities of a human and nonhuman kind that form part of the processes of death and dying, and what follows, to reframe ethico-ontology of death as material and processual ecologies of the non/living.
Marietta Radomska, PhD, is a Postdoc at the Department of Thematic Studies (Gender Studies), Linköping University, SE, and a Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Cultures (Art History), University of Helsinki, FI. She is the co-director of The Posthumanities Hub; founder of The Eco- and Bioart Research Network, co-founder of International Network for ECOcritical and DECOlonial Studies and a founding member of Queer Death Studies Network. Radomska is a philosopher and transdisciplinary gender studies and posthumanities scholar. Her current research project focuses on ecologies of death in the context of contemporary art. She is the author of the monograph Uncontainable Life: A Biophilosophy of Bioart (2016), and has published in Australian Feminist Studies, Somatechnics, and Angelaki, among others.
Organizers: Natashe Lemos Dekker (University of Amsterdam and Leiden University Medical Center) and Jesse D Peterson (KTH Royal Institute of Technology)
Place: Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Division of History of Science, Technology, and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden
Dates: September 26-27, 2019
Death is often assumed to arrive when heart and lungs stop. Yet, sometimes the borders between life and death are unclear. Death, then, may get interrupted, delayed, or come undone, disrupting the “natural” and “normal” forms of a “good” death. We acknowledge such disruptions as material and discursive; that is, bodies, minds, geographies, stories, and more act to challenge human perspectives on how people, animals, plants, or things ought to die and where and how the dead ought to be laid to rest. Suddenly, what seemed coherent no longer is, in the breakdown or dissolution of that which is dying but also in the way one orders worlds and afterworlds.
This workshop, thus, seeks to explore socio-ecological networks of the dying and dead that exist at the margins. We see tantalizing glimpses of this endeavor in the work of Achille Mbembe’s notion of “necro-politics” that explores the instrumentalization and material destruction of the human, Philip R. Olson’s “necro-waste” that looks at the human body as a form of material waste, and Joshua Reno’s work on the biosemiotics of shit as a “sign of life.” Such work invites us to pursue and further identify ways to explore and establish connections between dying and death from perspectives that refute a nature/culture binary—to ask questions such as:
· What boundary work takes place to construct and maintain the categories of alive, not-alive, dead, dying, and undead for places, objects, and beings?
· How do states and processes of acquiescing to, existing in between, manipulating, or overcoming life and/or death affect normative assumptions about dying and death?
· What might it mean to reconfigure human understanding of death to a more ecological frame that accommodates more-than-human lives and/or deep time?
· How might the memories, spirits, or spiritualities related to the dead and dying limit, expand, or explode a material-discursive frame?
· How do such challenges alter ethical approaches or values attached to dying and death?
Through this workshop, we hope to build a bridge between scholars working in the medical and environmental humanities and the social sciences, providing a venue to put into conversation research that explores how dying “bodies”—animal (including human), plant, thing, place—challenge natural, normative, and notions of a “good” death. We encourage applications from scholars whose research practices consider feminist and queer studies, new materialism and waste, plant and animal studies, non-western or indigenous studies, and/or death studies.
Deadline for abstracts is June 5, 2019. Please send your abstract (max 250 words) and a short biography (100 words) to Natashe Lemos Dekker (N.LemosDekker@uva.nl) and Jesse Peterson (firstname.lastname@example.org). Notifications of acceptance will be sent on June 11, 2019 or shortly thereafter.
We are happy to announce that Philip R. Olsen and Marietta Radomska will give keynote lectures and participate in the workshop. Participants will be asked to submit their papers by August 31. These will be pre-circulated to all participants and each paper assigned a discussant. Papers do not need to be finished articles, but can take the form of a think piece of up to 6 pages. We ask all participants to read all contributions beforehand to ensure in-depth discussion. During the workshop, each participant will pitch their work, followed by another participant who will act as a discussant, and who will pose remarks and questions. All participants will be allocated a text to discuss.
The workshop will be held at KTH – Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm on September 26-27, 2019. A workshop dinner will take place on the night of the 26th. Lunch and coffee will also be provided free of charge during the workshop. We may be able to offer partial travel reimbursement for some applicants.
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Please, check the full programme – including abstracts and bios – of The Third International Queer Death Studies Workshop Death Matters: Death and Dying in a Queer Context, taking place on 30-31 May 2018 in Linköping, here.
If you would like to attend the event, but haven’t registered yet, please do so by sending an email to: tara.mehrabi[at]liu.se by 23rd May 2018 at the latest.
You can also find the event on Facebook.
Women, Gender & Research, 2019/2-3
Queer Death Studies (QDS) refers to an emerging transdisciplinary field of research that critically and (self) reflexively investigates and challenges conventional normativities, assumptions, expectations, and regimes of truths that are brought to life and made evident by death, dying, and mourning.
Since its establishment as a research field in the 1970s, Death Studies has drawn attention to the questions of death, dying, and mourning as complex and multifaceted phenomena that require inter- or multi-disciplinary approaches and perspectives. Yet, the engagements with death, dying and mourning, constitutive of conventional Death Studies’ investigations, tend to remain insufficient and reductive. They are often governed by the normative notions of: the subject; bonds between humans, as well as between humans and (their) animals; family relations and communities; rituals; and finally, experiences of grief, mourning, and bereavement. Moreover, these engagements are frequently embedded in constraining beliefs in life/death divides, constructed along the lines of conventional religious and/or scientific mind/body dualisms, characteristic of the Western cultural imaginaries.
Against this background, QDS offers a site for ‘queering’ traditional ways of approaching death both as a subject of study and philosophical reflection, and as a phenomenon to articulate in artistic work or practices of mourning. Here, the notion of ‘queer’ conveys many meanings. It refers to researching and narrating death, dying, and mourning in the context of queer bonds and communities, where the subjects involved/studied/interviewed and the relations they are involved in are recognised as ‘queer’. Simultaneously, the term ‘queer’ can also function as an adverb and a verb, referring thus to the processes of going beyond and unsettling (subverting, exceeding) binaries and given norms, normativities, and constraining conventions. In other words, ‘queer’ becomes both a process and a methodology that is applicable and exceeds the focus on gender and sexuality as its exclusive concerns.
This special issue invites academic as well as artistic contributions that focus on and explore the ways queer theory and queer perspectives can help us rethink death, dying, remains, afterlife, mourning and the life-death dichotomy.
The topics may include, but are not limited to:
– Queer methodologies of researching death, dying and mourning
– Queer practices of mourning and bereavement
– Materiality of death and corpses
– Death/life ecologies
– Necropolitics and borders
– Un/grievable lives and deaths
– Death and biotechnology/biomedicine
– Queering cancer and other life-threatening diseases
– Technologies of life/death
– Queer widowhood
– Decolonialising death
– Illness narratives and death
– Ethico-politics and practices of killability
– Nonhuman death and dying
– Extinction and annihilation
– Death and acts of resistance
– ‘Slow death’
– Queering temporalities of death
– Queer spiritualities
Marietta Radomska, postdoc, Linköping University, Sweden
Tara Mehrabi, postdoc, University of Turku, Finland
Nina Lykke, professor emerita, Linköping University, Sweden
Deadline for abstracts (max 300-word + up to 100 word author bio): June 25, 2018
Deadline for articles: December 1, 2018
All contributions must be in English and should be submitted to: email@example.com
Guidelines for contributors: http://koensforskning.soc.ku.dk/english/kkof/guidelines/
Due to many requests we received, we have decided to extend the abstract deadline for The Third International Queer Death Studies Workshop until 18th March 2018. You can find more information on the workshop, including the CfP here, or in the pdf version here.
We hope that in this way those of you who would like to take active part in the workshop and haven’t managed to get in touch with us will now have a few more days to do so!
We are so much looking forward to hearing from you and to the workshop itself!
Queer Death Studies Network (QDSN) was officially launched in November 2016 at the G16: Swedish National Gender Research Conference in Linköping and has been vividly developing since then. The network constitutes a space for researchers, students, artists, activists, and other practitioners who critically and (self) reflexively investigate and challenge conventional normativities, assumptions, expectations, and regimes of truths that are brought to life and made evident by death, dying, and mourning.