This international workshop will explore the roles played in participatory democracy by forms of agency that exceed the boundaries of the conventional individual subject, including the non-human and the non-living. We invite contributions exploring unconventional forms of agency in participatory practice, or which introduce experimental methods, concepts and projects for doing so.
Questions of empowerment and voice are central to all forms of participatory politics and research. But what happens when we attune ourselves to forms of agency that exceed the boundaries of the conventional liberal subject? Recent materialist approaches to agency and subjectivity have done much to reconfigure concepts of political community in ways that recognize the active political agency of animals, ecosystems, intra-psychic and trans-psychic entities, the dead, the yet-to-be-born, and objects, technologies and laws (Bennett, 2010; Honig, 2012; Latour & Weibel, 2005). An increasing number of aesthetic practices, similarly, are reconfiguring the arts as ‘co-collaborations’ between human and non-human agency (Barrett & Bolt, 2013; Morton, 2013). How, then, are we to listen to political actors that do not possess a conventional ‘voice’? And what might the role of ‘more-than-human’ agencies be in creating more egalitarian forms of democratic authority (Whatmore, 2002)?
The workshop will bring together diverse perspectives on 'worldings' in which distinct subjects, objects and publics are brought into novel alignments (Ranciere, 2004; Barad; 2007). The workshop – part of a collaboration between CUNY’s Public Science Project, Plymouth University, UK, and Johns Hopkins University, and facilitated by the Authority Research Network – will be structured through a combination of presentations and discussion sessions. Example topics include (but are not limited to):
- Participatory engagements with the non-human and/or the non-living;
- The role of non-conventional forms of agency in democratic politics;
- The legitimation of authority to speak ‘for’, or ‘on behalf of’, non-human or non-living ‘others’;
- Theoretical approaches to non-human political agency, including new materialisms, assemblage theory, actor-network theory, speculative realism, hauntology, pragmatism, post-structuralist political theory and appreciative inquiry;
- Artistic collaborations between human and non-human agency;
- Engagement within and across the conventional subject – voices, psychotic figures/imaginaries, multiple selves, collectives, communities, mobs and movements;
- Collaborations with past and future generations;
- The agencies of food, drink, drugs and medications;
- Innovative multi-sensory methods (for example, exploring taste, smell, touch, sound);
- The role of metaphor/imagery and the imagination in listening to the non-human/non-living;
- Ways of knowing whether or not non-human engagements have been successful.
We invite proposals for short presentations, pecha-kucha (see http://www.pechakucha.org/), installations, artworks, performances, or other formats. We also welcome participants who would like to contribute to the discussions but not make a formal presentation.
For further details, see http://www.authorityresearch.net/participations-non-human-and-non-living-others-new-york-workshop.html. Please indicate your interest in attending the workshop by filling in the online form at by March 26th 2014. The event is funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, and there is no fee to participate. Lunch will be provided.
Applicants will be notified within a week of the deadline for expressions of interest. For further information, please contact Tehseen Noorani (Tehseen.Noorani@jhu.edu) or Julian Brigstocke (Julian.Brigstocke@plymouth.ac.uk).