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2016 - 17 Events

Centre of Latin American Studies

Call for Papers: The Limits of the Human in Latin American Visual Culture

The Limits of the Human in Latin American Visual Culture

University of Cambridge
11-12 January 2017

Keynote speakers: Professor Gareth Williams (Michigan), Dr Joanna Page (Cambridge) and Dr Edward King (Bristol)

The limits of the human have expanded in recent times. On the one hand, new medicines and life-extension technologies have pushed the limits of what can be considered as existential, or biological, life. On the other, theorists of the Anthropocene have described humans as a 'geological force', thereby collapsing the longstanding boundaries separating the human from nature. Alongside these changes, object theory and material culture have gained institutional ground, moving critical attention away from the human and towards the spaces that it inhabits and interacts with. This focus is both facilitated and conditioned by the destabilising effects of the Internet, social media and digital culture.

In a context in which the 'non-human' and the 'post-human' have gained increased currency, this two-day international conference proposes to return to the human and to interrogate its limits anew. Might the categories of the non-human and the post-human be contained within a more capacious definition of the human itself? What is gained or lost in this negotiation? Is it useful to retain the notion of the human following the apparent demise of humanism? This two-day conference will tackle these questions, and others, in relation to Latin American visual culture. We invite contributions from cultural studies, anthropology, media theory and political science, as well as work which crosses and exceeds disciplinary boundaries.

These issues take on particular importance in Latin America. We intend to examine the ways the region's uneven socio-economic and technological development has produced contested visions of what is valued as human and what falls outside of its boundaries. These competing images deal both with topics of universal reach, e.g. the biopolitical and necropolitical functions of state and transnational forces, but also with culturally specific problems. Included within this latter group are constructions of the human relating to indigenous cultures and identities, and to fraught intersections between queer sexualities and exclusive social understandings of gender. We are also interested in how the formal specificities of visual media draw, erase or reframe the borders of the human.

Registration open until 16 December, see conference website for details:

Lucy Bollington and Paul Merchant 

Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge