Workshop: January 2017

Terra Critica Intensive Workshop
Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf

Terra Critica Intensive Workshop

The Ends of Being Human, or What if Culture
was Nature all Along?

13-14 January 2017, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf

Organizers: Reinhold Görling (Media and Culture Studies, HHU); Birgit M Kaiser (Comparative Literature, UU); Kathrin Thiele (Graduate Gender Programme, UU); Stephan Trinkaus (Media and Culture Studies, UzK)

The workshop engages the two questions in the title back to back: What are the ends of being human when the onto-epistemological shifts effectuated by critical theories, radical Black and feminist/queer scholarship, and new materialisms are thought through to their ends? And how can the question of humanicity be asked in meaningful ways if – with Vicki Kirby – we ask ‘what if culture was nature all along’? In our discussion we aim to inquire how the question of the human after centuries of Eurocentric humanism and its manifold critiques can be informed by the legacies of poststructuralist and posthuman/posthumous work that insist on questioning the nature-culture divide that has been at the bottom of the figure of the human as ‘we’ know it? For good reasons, the figure of the human – delineated by European humanism as ‘Man’ (Wynter) – seems to be abandoned by today’s critical discourses. Resonating with this set of questions, the workshop is part of a wider research project which brings these diverse angles into conversation (forthcoming as special issue on “The Ends of Being Human? Re-turning (to) the Question” with PhiloSOPHIA in 2018).

During the workshop itself, we want to concretely focus on possible new openings to the questions of the human, so as not to abandon anything – neither humanism(s), antihumanism(s) or posthumanism(s), and yet “to open the question of the human, and writing, as if for the first time” (Kirby 2011, 21). What can we not afford to not think regarding ‘humanicity’? How to inhabit the question of the human (that also includes its post- or in-human dimensions) in ways inspired by feminist and new materialist perspectives? We will center our discussions around the work of Vicki Kirby, especially also her forthcoming publication What if Culture was Nature all Along? (Edinburgh UP 2017), and related work.

Workshop Participants

Bea Bodenstein (Heinrich-Heine U)
Maren Butte (Heinrich-Heine U)
Martin Doll (Heinrich-Heine U)
Reinhold Görling (Heinrich-Heine U)
Lisa Handel (Heinrich-Heine U)
Birgit M Kaiser (Utrecht U)
Vicki Kirby (UNSW)
Maximilian Linsenmeier (Heinrich-Heine U)
Xin Liu (U of Tampere)
Annika Patz (Heinrich-Heine U)
Franscesca Raimondi (Düsseldorf Art Academy)
Monika Rogowska-Stangret (U of Waswaw)
Fiona Schrading (Heinrich-Heine U)
Melanie Sehgal (Viadrina U Frankfurt Oder)
Valerie Terwei (Viadrina U Frankfurt Oder)
Kathrin Thiele (Utrecht U)
Stephan Trinkaus (U of Cologne)
Tjalling Valdés Olmos (Utrecht U)

Workshop Programme

Friday, 13 January 2017

(Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, Eiskellerstraße 1, 1st floor, room 104)

14.45-15.00 Welcome by the organizers

15.00-18.00 Session 1: What if Culture was Nature all along? (moderation: Kathrin Thiele)

Our discussion will be based on:

– Vicki Kirby, “Forword”, in What if Culture was Nature All Along?edited by Vicki Kirby, Edinburgh Press 2017, viii-xii.

– Vicki Kirby, “Matter out of Place: ‘New Materialism’ in Review’”, in What if Culture was Nature All Along? edited by Vicki Kirby, Edinburgh Press 2017, 1-25.

Introductory statements: Reinhold Görling und Maximilian Linsenmeier

Saturday, 14 January 2017

(Haus der Universität, Schadowplatz 14, 2nd floor, room 2)

10:00-12:30 Session 2: Un/limiting Ecologies (moderation: Birgit M. Kaiser)

Our discussion will be based on:

– Vinciane Despret, “The Body We Care For: Figures of Anthropo-zoo-genesis” Body & Society vol. 10, no. 2-3 (2004): 111–134.

– Monica Gagliano, Michael Renton, Martial Depczynski and Stefano Mancuso, “Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters” Oecologia 175 (2014): 63-72. DOI 10.1007/s00442-013-2873-7

– Vicki Kirby, “Un/limited Ecologies”, in Eco-Deconstruction
Derrida and Environmental Philosophy, edited by Matthias Fritsch, Philippe Lynes and David Wood, Fordham UP (forthcoming), 81-98.

Introductory statements: Lisa Handel und Kathrin Thiele

12.30-14.00 Lunch break

14.00-16.30 Session 3: Staying with the Trouble (moderation: Reinhold Görling)

Our discussion will be based on:

– Donna Haraway, “Sympoiesis: Symbiogenesis and the Lively Arts of Staying with the Trouble”, in Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene, Duke UP 2016, 58-98.

Introductory statements: Birgit M. Kaiser und Stephan Trinkaus