The First International Queer Death Studies Conference: CfP deadline 30 June!

The First International Queer Death Studies Conference:
“Death Matters, Queer(ing) Mourning, Attuning to Transitionings”

4-5 NOVEMBER 2019,
KARLSTAD UNIVERSITY,
SWEDEN

Radomska - short lichen
Photo: Marietta Radomska

ORGANISERS:
Queer Death Studies Network
Centre for Gender Studies, Karlstad University
Tema Genus, Linköping University

[for CfP – see below. Deadline for abstracts: 30 June]

Official conference website: https://www.kau.se/en/centre-gender-studies/date/first-international-queer-death-studies-conference-death-matters

In the context of the current environmental crises, the degradation of natural resources transforms certain habitats into unliveable spaces, while social and economic inequalities and geopolitical, social and symbolic violence expose differential vulnerabilities of communities and individuals. Both global and local mechanisms of necropolitics (Mbembe 2003) exert their power over the lives and deaths of populations, making some deaths more grievable than others (Butler 2004). Simultaneously, unsustainable living conditions and environments contribute to increased mortality rates and the extinction of species.

While natural sciences emphasise the interdependence of human and the environment, Western cultural imaginaries keep drawing a dividing line between humans and nonhuman others, particularly visible in the context of death. The division is combined with a dual approach to death – human death in particular – namely, Western cultural frameworks tend to present human death either as a step towards a disembodied afterlife (Christian tradition), or as something to be eradicated in favour of survival (secular biomedical perspective).

Arguably, the questions of death have been present in Western philosophy since antiquity. While these perspectives explore both ontological and axiological aspects of death, they are primarily concerned with the death of human individuals, seen from the perspective of the sovereign subject. Furthermore, questions around death, human remnants and the cultural and medical aspects of dying have been studied from anthropological, sociological, historical, and psychological perspectives, next to the biomedical ones. Since its establishment as a research field in the 1970s, Death Studies has drawn attention to the questions of death, dying and mourning as complex and multifaceted phenomena that require interdisciplinary approaches.

Yet, the engagements with death, dying and mourning constitutive of conventional Death Studies’ research, have left many questions open insofar as they have often been governed by the normative notions of: the subject; continuing bonds; family relations and communities; rituals; and experiences of mourning, and bereavement. Individuals who do not fulfil the conditions of the normative idea of the human (usually imagined to be white, middle-class, heterosexual, cis-gendered, able-bodied) tend to be ignored in dominant stories on death, loss, grief and mourning. Moreover, the current environmental crisis seems to produce a growing consciousness about living in ecological and social proximities to death, which also gives rise to demands for more diverse, nuanced and inclusive stories of death, dying and mourning.

The emerging field of Queer Death Studies (QDS), which the conference creates an arena for, aims to fill these gaps in traditional Death Studies, by attending to issues of: diverse cultural, socio-political, historical, and economic conditions; entangled relations between human and the environment in the context of the Anthropocene; differential experiences of marginalised communities and individuals excluded from the hegemonic discourses on death, loss, grief and mourning, associated for example with the heteronormative model of family bonds; and, contemporary forms of necropolitics: mechanisms of power that force certain bodies into liminal spaces between life and death.

Against this background, QDS emerges as a transdisciplinary field of research that critically and (self) reflexively investigates and challenges conventional normativities, assumptions, expectations, and regimes of truths that are brought to life and made evident by death, dying and mourning. By bringing together conceptual and analytical tools grounded in feminist materialisms and feminist theorising broadly speaking (e.g. Braidotti 2006; MacCormack 2012), queer theory (e.g. Haritaworn, Kuntsman & Posocco 2014) and decolonial critique (e.g. Fanon 1965; Mignolo 2011), QDS strives to advance methodologies and understandings that critically and creatively attend to the problem of death, dying, and mourning in the current environmental, cultural, and socio-political contexts.

In order to search for broad inspirations for alternative articulations and stories which queer, that is, unpack and question the normativities (Chen 2012; Sandilands & Erickson 2012) that often frame contemporary discourses on death, dying and mourning, The First International Queer Death Studies Conference Death Matters, Queer(ing) Mourning, Attuning to Transitionings mobilises a transdisciplinary engagement involving not only academics, but also activists, artists and other practitioners. In the context of the conference, to queer issues of death, dying and mourning means to unhinge certainties, “undo normative entanglements and fashion alternative imaginaries” beyond the exclusive concern with gender and sexuality, often associated with the term “queer” (Giffney & Hird 2008, 6). In particular, the conference calls for papers within the following three overall themes: (1) death matters and materialities, (2) queering mourning, and (3) attuning to transitionings run through both days and all keynote lectures.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

Stine Willum Adrian (Aalborg University, DK) – “Stitching Stories of Broken Hearts: Rethinking technologies of Death and Dying at the Beginning of Life”

Patricia MacCormack (Anglia Ruskin University, UK) – “Embracing Death, Opening the World”

Kira O’Reilly (independent artist, Helsinki, FI),
“An un’seaming mourning
(second iteration)
a year later”

C. Riley Snorton (University of Chicago, USA) – “Mud: Queer Death and Teeming Forms of Wildlife”

CALL FOR PAPERS:

The First International Queer Death Studies Conference: “Death Matters, Queer(ing) Mourning, Attuning to Transitionings” aims to create an arena for critical discussion of death, dying and mourning that goes beyond the dual approach to death – human death in particular – that is common within Western cultural frameworks of Christian tradition or secular biomedical perspectives. As such, the conference invites scholars who work with death, dying, mourning and afterlife in relation to: diverse cultural, socio-political, historical, and economic conditions; entangled relations between human and the environment in the context of the Anthropocene; differential experiences of marginalised communities and individuals excluded from the hegemonic discourses on death, loss, grief and mourning, associated for example with the heteronormative model of family bonds; and, contemporary forms of necropolitics: mechanisms of power that force certain bodies into liminal spaces between life and death (for instance, refugees whose lives in detention camps turn into the state of “social death” (Mirzoeff 2019)). Interventions that focus on practices that resist hegemonic norms, as well as queer and decolonialise mourning and remembering are also welcome.

In order to search for broad inspirations for alternative articulations and stories which queer, that is, unpack and question the normativities (Chen 2012; Sandilands & Erickson 2012) that often frame contemporary discourses on death, dying, mourning and afterlife, the conference is based on a transdisciplinary engagement involving not only academics, but also activists, artists and other practitioners. In the context of the conference, to queer issues of death, dying, mourning and afterlife means to unhinge certainties, “undo normative entanglements and fashion alternative imaginaries” beyond the exclusive concern with gender and sexuality, often associated with the term “queer” (Giffney & Hird 2008, 6). In particular, the conference will call for papers within the following three overall themes: (1) death matters and materialities, (2) queering mourning, and (3) attuning to transitionings run through both days and all the keynote lectures.

The conference invites individual papers (length: 20 min) that engage with – but are not necessarily limited to – the following themes:

– Queer methodologies of researching death, dying, mourning and afterlife
– Queering and decolonialising practices of mourning, bereavement and remembrance
– Materiality of death and corpses
– Queering philosophies of death
– Death/life ecologies
– Necropolitics and borders
– Queer and trans necropolitics
– Un/grievable lives and deaths
– Death and biotechnology/biomedicine
– Queering cancer and other life-threatening diseases
– Suicide
-Technologies of life/death
– Queer widowhood
– Decolonialising death
– Illness narratives and death
– Ethico-politics and practices of killability
– Nonhuman death and dying
– Extinction and annihilation
– Death and acts of resistance
– ‘Slow death’
– Queering temporalities of death
– Queer spiritualities
– Death, ghosts and hauntology

Please, send a 300-word long abstract, accompanied by a 100-long bio to: qdsconference[at]gmail.com .

Deadline for abstracts: 30 June 2019

The Posthumanities Hub Seminar with Nina Lykke and Camila Marambio: 4th June, 10:15 – 12:00

Welcome to The Posthumanities Hub Seminar with Nina Lykke and Camila Marambio on Decolonialising Mourning Through Speculative Wonder and Unthinkable Questions? On the Selk’nam ‘Hain’ and Its Layers of Lostness.

The seminar takes place in the seminar room at the Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, KTH (Teknikringen 74 D, Stockholm).

When: 4th June, 10:15 – 12:00

Cementerio grupo

Abstract:

This lecture investigates multi-layered meanings of mourning, death and loss in the context of decolonialising endeavours to learn from indigenous cosm-onto-epistemologies.  In focus is the so-called Hain, an initiation ceremony of the Selk’nam people of Tierra del Fuego. As described by Austrian ethnologist and Christian priest Martin Gusinde (1886-1969), it is recorded as having been performed for the last time in 1923. Gusinde’s research was later revised by US anthropologist Anne Chapman (1922-2010) and her Selk’nam research participant Lola Kiepja (died 1966). Since the ceremony is no longer performed, it is ‘lost’ as lived spiritual experience. Accordingly, Gusinde and Chapman embed their accounts in a context of white Western melancholia (cf. reoccurring phrases such as ‘the last Selk’nam’, ‘the last Hain’ etc). The lecture aims at critically analysing these ways of sustaining coloniality through mourning, and exploring other critically-affirmative, decolonialising approaches, and caring ethics. It builds on one author’s (Marambio) longtime fieldwork in Tierra del Fuego, carried out together with Fuegans, and on both authors’ joint work to organise Hain-workshops, using speculative wonder (Stengers 2011) and creative analytical practices to ask unthinkable questions and engage participants in collective endeavours to approach the Hain and mourn its layers of lostness otherwise.

Bio:

Camila Marambio is curator of Ensayos, and her work with the program has been represented in exhibitions and performances at the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; the Institute for Art and Olfaction, Los Angeles; BHQFU, New York; Puerto de Ideas, Valparaíso; Festival Cielos del Infinito, Puerto Williams, CL; Kurant, Tromsø, NO; and Psi #22, Melbourne, AU. Currently a PhD Candidate in Curatorial Practice at MADA in Melbourne, Australia, Marambio received an M.A. in Modern Art: Critical Studies at Columbia University and a Master of Experiments in Art and Politics at Science Po in Paris; attended the Curatorial Programme at de Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam; and was Head Curator at Matucana 100 (Santiago, CL) and Assistant Curator at Exit Art (New York, NY).

Nina Lykke, PhD, Professor Emerita, Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. Has participated in the building of Feminist Studies in Scandinavia and Europe more broadly since the 1970s. Co-founder of International Network for Queer Death Studies, and International Network for ECOcritical and DECOlonial Research. Current research interests: queering of cancer, death, and mourning in posthuman, queerfeminist, materialist, decolonial and eco-critical perspectives; autophenomenographic and poetic writing. Recent publications:  Queer Widowhood. Lambda Nordica. 2015:4; Assisted Reproduction Across Borders (co-ed. Merete Lie, Routledge 2016); Academic Feminisms: Between Disidentification, Messy Everyday Utopianism, and Cruel Optimism. Feminist Encounters.  2017:1(1); When death cuts apart: On affective difference, compassionate companionship and lesbian widowhood. T.Juvonen & M.Kohlemainen (eds): Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships. (Routledge 2018). She has served on numerous international editorial boards, among others for European Journal of Women’s Studies; currently she is in the advisory board of Signs. Journal of Women in Culture and Society, and co-editor of the book series Routledge Advances in Feminist Studies and Intersectionality.

 

 

QUEERING THE HAIN – DECOLONIALIZING MOURNING: Creative and reflexive writing workshop with Camila Marambio and Nina Lykke

Creative and reflexive writing workshop with

Camila Marambio, Monash University, Australia

Nina Lykke, Linköping University

QUEERING THE HAIN – DECOLONIALIZING MOURNING

An invitation to gather and ask the unthinkable

May 23, 2019, 10-15

Venue:   Linköping University: Campus Norrköping.

Building: Kopparhammaren, Norra Grytgatan, Entrance 10A, Floor 2, room KO22.

Registration:  Please register with name, address/affiliation and e-mail, at the latest May 20, to nina.lykke@liu.se  (max 20 participants)

Cementerio grupo

WORKSHOP FORMAT:

Through creative writing, listening exercises, and sharing of reflections, the workshop will question the Hain and other similar ceremonies, as they are understood through the anthropological material that represents them.

The workshop will take as a point of departure an introduction to the Hain, as it appears in the anthropological/ethnological literature, then move through stories told by descendants of those performing the last Hain in the early 20th century, and to the implied layers of “lostness” and the task of translation and decolonializing.

WHAT IS THE HAIN?

As described by Austrian ethnologist and Christian priest Martin Gusinde (1886-1969), the Kloketen-Hain is an initiation ceremony of the Selk’nam people of Tierra del Fuego.  It is recorded as having been performed for the last time in 1923. Gusinde’s research was later revised by the anthropologist Anne Chapman (1922-2010) and her Selk’nam research participant Lola Kiepja (died 1966). Since the ceremony is no longer performed, it seems to have been “lost” as a lived spiritual experience. Anthropologists and ethnologists, most coming from colonial Western contexts, who have described ceremonies such as the Hain, often limit their description to the specific event (located in space and time) and from their situatedness in the outlooks of White Western Modernity.

SOME KEY QUESTIONS:

* If and, if yes, how, is it possible to “read/write/perform in-between the lines” of the descriptions, framed from the point of view of a specifically located white Western, colonial gaze?

* What kind of “readings/writings/performings-in-between-the-lines” can and can’t “we” (differently located workshop participants) perform

* Which tools and performative re/worlding practices can and can’t “we” collectively develop?

* What can “we” learn as well as unlearn from such processes of collective “reading/writing/performing in-between-the-lines”?

* Which kinds of ethical reflections does the process of generating new approaches to the Hain require and produce?

BACKGROUND

The workshop builds on Camila Marambio’s longtime fieldwork in Tierra del Fuego, as part of the nomadic research programme Ensayos and her  PhD research in Curatorial Practice at Monash University, Melbourne, and on both authors’ joint work to organize ‘Queering the Hain-workshops’ (Melbourne, Australia, 2018, and Santiago, Chile, 2019), recently in collaboration with Hema’ny Molina Vargas, President of the Selk’nam organization Covadonga Ona (Corporación Selk’nam Chile, Comunidad indigena Covadonga Ona).

BIO-NOTES

Camila Marambio,  is curator of Ensayos (https://ensayostierradelfuego.net/), and her work with the program has been represented in exhibitions and performances at the Kadist Art Foundation, Paris; the Institute for Art and Olfaction, Los Angeles; BHQFU, New York; Puerto de Ideas, Valparaíso; Festival Cielos del Infinito, Puerto Williams, CL; Kurant, Tromsø, NO; and Psi #22, Melbourne, AU. Currently a PhD Candidate in Curatorial Practice at MADA in Melbourne, Australia, Marambio received an M.A. in Modern Art: Critical Studies at Columbia University and a Master of Experiments in Art and Politics at Science Po in Paris; attended the Curatorial Programme at de Appel Arts Center in Amsterdam; and was Head Curator at Matucana 100 (Santiago, CL) and Assistant Curator at Exit Art (New York, NY).

Nina Lykke, Professor Emerita, Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. Co-founder of Queer Death Studies Network, and Network for Ecocritical-Decolonial Research. Current research: queering of  cancer, death, and  mourning in queerfeminist materialist, decolonial and eco-critical perspectives; autophenomenographic and poetic writing. Recent publications:  When death cuts apart, in: Juvonen & Kohlemainen: Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships. Routledge, New York  2018; Rethinking socialist and Marxist legacies in feminist imaginaries of protest from postsocialist perspectives. Social Identities. Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture.  2018:24 (2). Making Live and Letting Die: Cancerous Bodies between Anthropocene Necropolitics and Chthulucene Kinship. Environmental Humanities. 2019: 11 (1): 108-136. Personal website: https://ninalykke.net

ORGANIZERS: The workshop is co-organized by Tema Genus and REMESO, Linköping University. Contact: Professor Nina Lykke (nina.lykke@liu.se), Tema Genus, and PhD student Asher Goldstein (asher.goldstein@liu.se), REMESO.

 

The Posthumanities Hub Seminar with Dr. Marietta Radomska at KTH Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm (22nd January)

Welcome to The Posthumanities Hub seminar with Dr. Marietta Radomska on Deterritorialising Death: Queer(ing) Methodology and Contemporary Art, which takes place on 22 January (Tuesday) at 10:15 – 12:00 in the seminar room at Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment KTH, Teknikringen 74 D, Stockholm.

Deterritorialising Death: Queer(ing) Methodology and Contemporary Art

Abstract:

This paper stems from a project that asks what happens when contemporary art – in a dialogue with feminist materialist philosophies – is mobilised in order to challenge conventional (i.e. anchored in the Western tradition of the autonomous (exclusively) human subject) understandings of death, and assess multiple vulnerabilities and power differentials that form part of the materialisations of ecologies of death in the context of the Anthropocene.

In other words, the project examines how contemporary art read through the lens of feminist materialist philosophies (e.g. Colebrook, MacCormack, Grosz) may – and do – queer, that is, unsettle, subvert and exceed binaries, given norms, normativities, and conventions that frame and govern the bodies and processes constitutive of death, extinction and annihilation, especially in the given environmental context.

In order to do so, we need an adequate set of tools. In this paper, I argue for a tripartite methodology that queers the traditional human-exceptionalist concept of death: (1) feminist biophilosophy as an examination that does not search for an ‘essence’ of life, but instead focuses on the processes that take life beyond itself; (2) ‘the non/living’ (Radomska 2016) as a way to conceptualise death/life entanglement; and (3) queer vitalism as a ground for aesthetics (Colebrook 2014). By discussing each of these components and employing them in the analysis of select artworks, I hope to open up a space for discussion on this queer(ing) methodology’s potential for mobilising a novel feminist-materialist understanding of both ontology and ethics of death.

Bio:

Marietta Radomska, PhD, is a Postdoc at the Department of Thematic Studies (Gender Studies), Linköping University, SE, and a Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Cultures (Art History), University of Helsinki, FI. She is the co-director of The Posthumanities Hub; founder of The Eco- and Bioart Research Network, co-founder of International Network for ECOcritical and DECOlonial Studies and a founding member of Queer Death Studies Network. Radomska is a feminist philosopher and transdisciplinary gender studies and posthumanities scholar. Her current research project focuses on ecologies of death in the context of contemporary art. She is the author of the monograph Uncontainable Life: A Biophilosophy of Bioart (2016), and has published in Australian Feminist Studies, Somatechnics, and Angelaki, among others.

Mini-symposium ‘Becoming with Alien Encounters and Speculative Storytelling’: Part 2

Nina Lykke Cliffs of Fur built of algae (2017)Image: Nina Lykke, Cliffs of Fur built of algae (2017)

As the Mini-Symposium Becoming with Alien Encounters and Speculative Storytelling approaches, we continue the presentation of our speakers (see also: Part 1).

Today it is our great pleasure to introduce you to our second speaker, Prof. Nina Lykke!

 

Bio

Nina Lykke, Professor Emerita, Gender Studies, Linköping University, Sweden. Co-founder of Network for Queer Death Studies, and Network for Ecocritical and Decolonial Research. Her current research focuses on queering of cancer, death, and mourning in queerfeminist materialist, decolonial and eco-critical perspectives, and on autophenomenographic and poetic writing. Recent publications: Queer Widowhood. Lambda Nordica. 2015:4; Academic Feminisms: Between Disidentification, Messy Everyday Utopianism, and Cruel Optimism. Feminist Encounters. 2017:1(1); When death cuts apart: On affective difference, compassionate companionship and lesbian widowhood. T.Juvonen and M.Kohlemainen (eds): Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships. Routledge, New York, London (2018).

Paper abstract

Becoming with algae. Exploring Speculative Stories of Reimagining the Imperceptible.

Diatomite earth is fossilized remains of diatoms, single-celled aquatic algae. In the paper, I use diatoms as lens to ask, what diatomite earth may tell about a flat life/death ontology, and which possibilities for speculative story-telling it may open. My focus is a diatomite cliff formation on the Danish island of Fur – and my life partner’s ashes, spread in the waters beneath. I reflect on my co-becoming with my partner through a combination of poetic, autophenomenographic, and philosophic-cultural reflections on her becoming imperceptible in a Deleuzean sense, and her transforming into a body of ashes, now mixed with diatomite sand. The paper’s analysis is based on examples from these writings.

 

The symposium takes place on 5th April 2018, 13:15 – 16:30 at Linköping University (room: Faros; Tema building; Campus Valla).