Orange Alert

SU holds first in a series of international meetings about ‘biopolitical futures’ April 5-6

Participants hail from as far away as Australia, Sweden, and United Kingdom

March 29, 2013, by Rob Enslin

Gregg Lambert
Gregg Lambert
The inaugural meeting of the Society for the Study of Biopolitical Futures will take place at Syracuse University, April 5-6. Composed of scholars from SU, Cornell University, The Pennsylvania State University, and other institutions from around the world, the group will meet to discuss what power is and how it is used within a humanist framework. The program consists of six working sessions, each of which may be audited by up to 10 SU faculty members and graduates students. To audit one or more sessions, contact Karen Ortega in The SU Humanities Center at 315-443-5708 or

Titled “Life In-Between-Outside Discipline and Control,” the meeting will take place in room 304 of the Tolley Humanities Building. It is sponsored by The CNY Humanities Corridor, a large-scale partnership generously supported by an award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The CNY Humanities Corridor is administrated by The SU Humanities Center, which is based in The College of Arts and Sciences.

“In this meeting, we will draw primarily on the work of Michel Foucault, a 20th-century French philosopher and social theorist who wrote about power, knowledge, and discourse,” says Gregg Lambert, principal investigator of The CNY Humanities Corridor and founding director of The SU Humanities Center. “We aim to clarify and explain the many uses of concepts drawn on Foucault’s early work on populations and government, all the while recognizing and exploring the paradigmatic function these concepts have played in the humanities and social sciences over the past 10 years.”

The schedule and participants are as follows:

Friday, April 5

9-9:30 a.m.: Opening remarks by Lambert

9:30-11:30 a.m.: Session I: “Biopower, Biopolitics”

• Timothy Campbell, professor of Italian studies at Cornell University
• Jeffrey T. Nealon, liberal arts research professor of English and philosophy at Penn State
• Paul Patton, professor of history and philosophy at The University of New South Wales (Australia)

1:30-3:30 p.m.: Session II: “Life”
• Peter Canning, visiting instructor in the humanities and media studies at the Pratt Institute
• Patricia Clough, professor of sociology, women’s studies, and intellectual studies at Queens College
• Richard Dolye, professor of English at Penn State
• Adam Nocek, graduate fellow and instructor in the Comparative History of Ideas Program at the University of Washington

3:30-5:30 p.m.: Session III: “In-“
• Bradley Evans, senior lecturer in international relations at Bristol University (U.K.)
• Meera Lee, faculty fellow in the humanities at SU
• Greg Thomas, associate professor of English at SU
• Cary Wolfe, the Bruce and Elizabeth Dunlevie Professor of English at Rice University

Saturday, April 6

9-11 a.m.: Session IV: “-Between-“

• Irving Goh, fellow postdoctoral researcher for the Society for the Humanities at Cornell
• M. Gail Hamner, associate professor of religion at SU
• Kalpana Seshadri, associate professor of English at Boston College
• David Wills, professor of French studies at the University at Albany-SUNY

1-3 p.m.: Session V: “-Outside”
• Claire Colebrook, the Edwin Erie Sparks Professor of English at Penn State
• Timothy Murray, professor of comparative literature and English at Cornell
• Jackie Orr, associate professor of sociology at SU

3-5 p.m.: Session VI: “Discipline and Control”
• Frida Beckman, postdoctoral researcher of thematic studies at Linköping University (Sweden)
• Gregory Flaxman, associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
• Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities at SU

5-5:30 p.m.: Closing discussion

Michel Foucault (1926-1984)
Michel Foucault (1926-1984)
Lambert anticipates additional meetings will take place over the next two years and will likely include events at Linköping, Cornell, and Rice universities. 

“This is an opportunity to bring together a finite community of researchers for an equally finite period of time to construct a collective analysis of a problem that is dispersed throughout our own individual research and writing projects,” he says, drawing comparisons to a small group of humanists called the College of Sociology, which first explored disciplinary notions of power and "the sacred" in the late 1930s. “My hope is that we can arrive at a generalized notion of the bio-political that may be applied to a wide range of theoretical domains, ranging from the discourse of human rights to aspirations of post-human agency.”

Proceedings of the event will be recorded and later made available to the public at The SU Humanities Center's website.  

The SU Humanities Center, founded in 2008, fosters public engagement in the humanities, and is home to The CNY Humanities Corridor; the Watson Visiting Collaborator and Jeanette K. Watson Distinguished Visiting Professorship programs; the HC Mini-Seminar and Syracuse Symposium Seminar series; and other research initiatives, annual fellowships and public programming.

Media Contact

Rob Enslin