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[Nettime-nl] ASCA Conference: Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity
Firat, B.O. on Wed, 12 Oct 2005 11:16:36 +0200 (CEST)


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[Nettime-nl] ASCA Conference: Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity


Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity: Knowledge, Politics, Cultural Production

Wednesday, 29 March - Friday, 31 March 2006

The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) invites proposals for the international workshop, Trajectories of Commitment and Complicity, to be held between 29th - 31st of March, 2006 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This interdisciplinary workshop will be dedicated to exploring the concepts of commitment and complicity as they manifest themselves at the intersections of knowledge, politics and cultural production.

Confirmed Keynotes:  Prof. Sara Ahmed, Prof. Timothy Brennan, Prof. Elleke Boehmer, Prof. Rey Chow.

The concepts of commitment and complicity come into play when scholars engage with tensions between knowledge, world politics and everyday life. For example, if one asks how knowledge and methodologies in the humanities can travel to make a difference in everyday politics and vice versa. Although the two concepts are widely used in colloquial language, their intellectual trajectories have often been under-illuminated. Either commitment seemed (a) good in itself, or the so-called disinterestedness of knowledge production foreclosed any kind of assessment of the term. Equally, the uses of complicity have kept the concept outside the realm of examination. Either complicity was used to stress the accommodating roles of knowledge, intellectuals and cultural production in relation to dominant power structures, or it was celebrated as an enabling condition for research.
 
Sparked by an interest in commitment as a form of self-reflexive, engaged and responsible knowledge production, while haunted by the hidden or explicit complicity of the theories and concepts with which we work, this workshop sets out to examine both concepts within their situated trajectories. In order not to turn blind - methodologically and conceptually - at the very moment we use commitment and complicity, both concepts need to remain subject to critical examination. Thus, the question is not whether one is a committed or a complicit scholar, but how the twin concepts crystallize and manifest themselves at the intersections of knowledge, politics and cultural production, and how they travel through space and time, institutions, and methods of analysis.

Uncomfortably and paradoxically, 'individuality', 'freedom' and 'choice' are some of the constitutive conditions of intellectual practices. However, the position of the intellectual, the commitment and/or complicity of the knowledge s/he produces and her/his actions are not merely contingent upon these conditions, particularly when other notions such as autonomy, intellectual solidarity, critical thought and answerability are taken into consideration. Opening up a space for discussion for alternative conceptualizations of intellectual practices while keeping in mind that knowledge, politics and cultural production are discourses of power, we wish to develop an understanding that both works with and against commitment and complicity. In doing so, we intend to treat these twin concepts with the same kind of generous scrutiny bestowed on other traveling concepts in the humanities. 

* We encourage contributions surrounding, but by no means limited to, the following questions: 

Spatio-temporal Trajectories: Definitions of commitment and complicity are often dependent on the historical, political and cultural frameworks within which they are discussed. Due to this variation, the 'object' of commitment and complicity as well as its specific spatio-temporal cultural manifestations should not be taken for granted. Yet, commitment and complicity also seem to relate to universalisms such as 'human rights' and 'freedom of thought'. How can we think of commitment and complicity without running the risk of turning them into either master narratives or culturally relativist concepts? To what extent are commitment and complicity culturally specific concepts? How do specific forms of commitment and complicity arise in particular geographic, cultural and  social locations, and how can they possibly move to other contexts?  Regarding the genealogy of commitment and complicity, how, by whom and to what aims have both concepts been used? 

Trajectories in Cultural Production: Cultural artifacts as productions of knowledge are often informed by practices of commitment and complicity, and hence require to be analyzed in terms of them. In what ways do cultural products articulate or produce forms of commitment and complicity? How, and through which strategies, do cultural artifacts negotiate the ways in which they are committed or complicitous? How are reading/viewing practices informed by commitment and complicity? In what ways do overtly 'committed' cultural artifacts become expressions of complicity? Is there such a thing as a 'committed' cultural artifact or is it more apt to talk about committed or complicitous readings? How can we understand processes of cultural production and consumption in terms of commitment and complicity? 

Trajectories of intellectual production: While committed to socio-political causes, intellectuals are also mediated by that which they seek to resist. Through the concepts of commitment and complicity, the nature of the relationship between the intellectual, the knowledge s/he produces, and everyday politics can be scrutinized. How can we envision intellectuals to be committed and complicit in terms of their political (institutional, personal, cultural) situation? To what extent is their institutional situation an enabling or restrictive condition, and to what extent does that situation politicize or depoliticize the very material and ideas they work on? When do the commitment and complicity of knowledge and its production risk inserting one's scholarly production into the dominant ideologies one sets out to criticize? And to what extent could the concepts of commitment and complicity contribute to an effective methodology (e.g. self-reflexivity) for studying these questions?
* Organizing Committee: Bregje van Eekelen, Begum Ozden Firat, Sarah de Mul, Ihab Saloul, Sonja van Wichelen
*  Host Institution:  The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) is devoted to studying contemporary culture through detailed, historically as well as theoretically informed analyses of case studies. Participants should specify how the concepts of commitment and/or complicity are theoretically, politically, and culturally relevant and related to their own work. The concepts may be addressed together or separately and preferably in correlation with cultural objects such as film, artworks, television, literature, photography, music, museums, scientific objects/practices, religious objects/practices, etc. This conference is the latest in a series of ASCA graduate conferences and is inspired by the Theory Seminar organized by Mieke Bal in 2004-2005 on "Commitment in the Humanities." 
*The workshop format of the conference is designed to stimulate discussion in the panels. Instead of "reading" their papers at the conference, participants are encouraged to give a 15-minute presentation of their work, connecting their paper to the other papers in their panel and to the overall concerns of the conference. 

Participation instructions

Please send your 200-300 words proposal, accompanied by a short CV, by November 1st 2005. Participants will be asked to send the final version of their papers (4000-word maximum) by January 30th, 2006. A reader will be prepared for each of the panels and will be circulated before the workshop. * Please send your proposal to the ASCA office at the following address: 
Dr Eloe Kingma, Managing Director ASCA
Spuistraat 210. 1012 VT Amsterdam. The Netherlands. 
Phone: +31 20 525 3874. 
Fax: +3120 525 3052. 
Email: asca-fgw {AT} uva.nl 
Website: http://www.hum.uva.nl/asca 

 

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