A JHU Anthropology graduate student conference with keynote from Prof. Michael Hardt (Duke University, Program in Literature)
The annual Johns Hopkins Anthropology graduate student conference, entitled ‘Affecting Labor’, with a keynote from Professor Michael Hardt (Duke University, Program in Literature), will be held on the Homewood Campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore on March 27-28, 2015. The deadline for submitting an abstract is Jan 20 2015, and we look forward to receiving papers from across the social sciences and humanities.
Please see the attached call for papers for further details.
Michael Hardt argues that affective labor, a distinctive form of work characterized as service, is the predominant mode of “constitut[ing] communities and collective subjectivities” in contemporary capitalism. Affective labor does not replace older forms of labor-value production but reconfigures them to make them coeval with our contemporary modes of production. Thus the putative distinctions between materiality and immateriality of objects of labor, between factory work and service, and between production and “informationalization,” become conceptually blurred as well as difficult to mark empirically. Given the unclear nature of the boundaries between these categories, our conference aims to revisit the questions that make the notion of affective labor salient both as a concept and as a tool of political and social mobilization.
We invite papers that elaborate on relations between work and service in the present and how they help re-evaluate classical and established ways in which labor has been theorized. Often, only certain work practices fall under the moral and political matrices that make them recognizable as labor. Historically, political projects have been geared toward the “visibilization” of otherwise undervalued and invisible work forms. Given the conspicuous and pervasive nature of affective labor today, what forms of work escape this moral mandate or are excluded from projects of political claims-making? When does a practice of work cease to become, or resist becoming, a practice of labor, and what (if any) value do such forms of work have? Or contrarily, how are forms of work that have historically not been classified as labor brought under its auspices in our present, and how are other notions like care or affect identified and used to make this re-classification possible?
Developing this contingent and non-coincidental relation between work and labor, both as forms of action in themselves, and as praxis determining our relation to the world, this conference welcomes submissions from across the social sciences and humanities. Possible lines of inquiry may include:
- How do we engage with the conceptual distinctions of work, service, and labor in empirical and ethnographic settings?
- How do concepts like affective, emotional, or intimate labor allow us to engage with different forms of life in our work?
- How are globalized forms of reproductive, caring, or domestic labor transforming the valuation and visibility of these activities? How are divisions between public and private re-ordered?
- What political, juridical, or other discursive regimes are involved in processes of the valorization of work/labor?
- What are the terms by which we engage work and value-production in religious traditions, devotional practices, or theological discourse? How does this help recast rigid assertions of work and labor as being secular and closed forms of engagement with the world? - How do notions of service and slavery limit our conceptions of work and labor, if we perceive service as subtracting from labor while slavery as adding to it?
- What possibilities does a conception of intellectual labor provide for rethinking the persistent rhetoric of “crisis” in the university?
- How might thinking about our scholarly activities as work or labor unsettle disciplinary, methodological, but also political and institutional configurations?
Submission Guidelines: The conference will take place on March 27-28 at the Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus. We encourage submissions from graduate students across disciplines. To apply, please submit a concise abstract (max. 500 words) to JHUgradconference@gmail.com by January 20, 2015. Submissions should include the following information: presenter's name, program, year of study, research focus, and contact information. Submission of a full paper is required no later than two weeks prior to the start of the conference. Additional details can be found at https://affectinglabor.wordpress.com/. Citations for and links to works by Professor Hardt (as well as other relevant scholarly works) will be posted shortly.