Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cfp: "Commonalities: Theorizing the Common in Contemporary Italian Thought," a DIACRITICS Conference, Cornell University, September 24-25, 2010.

Over the last decade contemporary Italian thought has enjoyed enormous intellectual and editorial success in the United States. The work of Giorgio Agamben, Antonio Negri writing with Michael Hardt, Paolo Virno, Adriana Cavarero, and more recently Roberto Esposito and Rosi Braidotti, have placed Italian thought at the heart of current debates on topics as wide-ranging as bioengineering, globalization, and feminism. In ways that recall the success of French poststructuralism in the 1980s, Italian thought today appears increasingly to be setting the terms of both philosophical and political debates in this country. Yet such success raises a number of questions, in particular about the very features of Italian philosophical tradition that might account for such a result. In other words, if asked to sketch the principal features of Italian thought that join together philosophers as different as Cavarero, Agamben, and Negri, how might one reply? What is it that separates Italian thought from other philosophical traditions, and what might account for its importance today? As Negri asks, where does the Italian difference lie?

Although there are many possible responses, one undeniable feature linking some of the most powerful exponents of contemporary Italian thought is the decisive weight afforded the notion of the “common.” Certainly, Giorgio Agamben’s quasi-manifesto The Coming Community from 1994 merits attention, as does Hardt and Negri’s theorization of the coming together of commonality and singularity in the figure of the multitude in Empire and Multitude. So too does the “common” run through Adriana Cavarero’s reading of “horrorism” in terms of the body politic, Paolo Virno’s emphasis on the shared capacities of labor, Rosi Braidotti’s displacement of communal bonds in favor of a Deleuzian nomadology, and more recently Roberto Esposito’s analysis of the reciprocal relation between community and immunity. One common ground (though clearly not the only one) of recent Italian philosophical iterations will be found in a shared orientation towards reconceptualizing the common.

It is in this context that the diacritics conference “Commonalities: Contemporary Italian Thought and Theorizing the Common” will take place. . . .

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