Post-Pandemic Condition: Biopolitics in the Aftermath of the COVID-19

September 7, 2023
Department of Contemporary Philosophy, Lithuanian Culture Research Institute

Konstitucijos pr. 22

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Call for Papers: International Conference 


Post-Pandemic Condition: Biopolitics in the Aftermath of the COVID-19

Conference Date: 7 September, 2023

National Gallery of Art, Konstitucijos pr. 22, Vilnius

The conference ‘Post-Pandemic Condition: Biopolitics in the Aftermath of the COVID-19’ revisits the concept of biopolitics by asking how the pandemic has redefined the political field and what new concepts and prospects it can offer for conceptualising our post-pandemic condition. 

The worldwide health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly signalled the need to reconsider, modify, and even transform the notion of biopolitics. Numerous attempts to do so were ranging from nearly apocalyptic visions of entirely ‘negative’ biopolitics, such as Giorgio Agamben’s collection of brief essays Where Are We Now? (2021), to surveillance-friendly ‘positive’ biopolitics, exemplified by Benjamin Bratton’s The Revenge of the Real (2021). Most of these, however, were published at the very peak of the pandemic, and therefore mostly based on different approaches of national governments towards the management of the pandemic and their implementation, and not the consequences of the pandemic biopolitics itself. 

Roughly three years after the breakout of the pandemic, it is time to revisit the notion of biopolitics itself and to question its viability in the aftermath of COVID-19. Many theoreticians emphasize that the pandemic cannot be separated from the existing social and political conditions which include nationalism, racism, global inequality, poverty, violence against women and LGBTQ+ people, and environmental destruction. In enduring pandemic times these conditions were radicalised and made even more unbearable. At the same time theoreticians express a need to overcome these radical inequalities and reimagine a ‘shared or common world’ (Judith Butler), ‘the world in common’ (Achille Mbembe) that would ensure a universal right to live.

The universal right to live belongs to the universal community of earthly inhabitants, human and nonhuman. This implies that the conventional model of individual rights and freedoms should be revisited in favour of communal forms of existence. As Judith Butler points out, the term ‘pandemic’ derives etymologically from pan-demos, all the people, or people everywhere, or something that crosses over or spread over and through the people (What World Is This?, p. 5). Thus the post-pandemic condition implies that thinking about the insular and autonomous individual should be abandoned since every individual discovers itself in the position of interconnectedness and encroachment. The post-pandemic condition forces us to rethink ourselves in terms of common immunity (Roberto Esposito), the transindividual (Etienne Balibar), or holobiont (Bruno Latour), and to acknowledge our debt to global ecology.     

Key areas of inquiry could include but are by no means limited to: 

• pandemic and paradigmatic shifts within and beyond the notion of biopolitics; 

• political, economic, racial, and social implications of pandemic biopolitics; 

• new philosophical, political and social imaginaries; 

• the individual “self” and other forms of communal existence; 

• immunity and immunization VS community-oriented approaches after the pandemic; 

• individual rights and freedoms VS universal right to live; 

• post-pandemic governmentality VS environmentality;

• ecological crisis, biopolitics, and the Anthropocene;

• affective and artistic expressions of the post-pandemic condition.

Conference format: in person 

Submission guidelines: 

Deadline for abstract submission: 1 June 2023

Notification of acceptance: 10 June 2023

Conference dates: 7 September 2023

An abstract (300 words) with a short biography should be sent to the organizers: [email protected]

The conference is organized by the Lithuanian Culture Research Institute

and the Research Council of Lithuania. 

The conference will take place in the National Gallery of Art, Konstitucijos pr. 22, Vilnius.

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#biopolitics, #conference, #international conference, #pandemic, #covid-19, #