The next kitchen meeting will be the ‘Matters of Life and Death’ symposium, organised by Endre Dányi, Martina Kolanoski and Thomas Scheffer. The event will take place on 3 and 4 July 2018, in the university’s guest house (Fraunlobstr. 1), and include Sven Opitz, Alain Pottage and Lucy Suchman among other STS scholars.
Please find a short description of the symposium below. If you wish to attend, please drop Endre a line.
We are witnessing a renewed urgency of dealing with ‘existential problems’ – problems that are reducible neither to ‘ordinary problems’ modern institutions were developed to handle, nor to ‘crises’ that signal extraordinary failures of those institutions. The first tenet of this symposium is that existential problems, such as climate change, are matters of life and death: they challenge ways of life, but they do so in a distributed manner. In this sense, they are both ordinary and extraordinary, potentially anti-democratic, urgent, collectivist, globally interwoven, inter-dependent and recursive. As such, they call for totalizing societal mobilizations and, by doing so, tend to weaken functional differentiation and institutional divisions of labour. In the symposium, we engage with existential challenges in a problem-focused and practice-oriented manner.
More specifically, we examine how – depending on our theoretical vocabularies – collectives, social systems, members, institutions, and state apparatuses perform, frame, deny, and scale up/down existential problems. In other words, how life and death come to matter and are being appropriated. The second tenet is that law and legal modes of doing play a central role in such problem-solution-combinations. They do so, for instance, by offering a horizon for possible solutions, as liberal scholars have suggested, or by constraining (causes of) problem-solving capacities, like Marxist, feminist and anarchist thinkers have proposed.
In light of existential problems, we ask how legislation or law enforcement restrict or prescribe problem-solving efforts. The symposium will take place on 3-4 July 2018 at the Westend Campus and the Goethe University’s Guesthouse (Fraunlobstraße 1, about a 15 minute walk from the Westend Campus).