Philosophy and the Outside II: Materiality/Immateriality

June 4, 2013
Kingston University

Penrhyn Road Campus, Room JG0001
Kingston Upon Thames
United Kingdom

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Keynote speakers:

Antonia Birnbaum
Université Paris 8

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In-keeping with our exploration of philosophy’s outsides, this year’s CRMEP graduate conference will focus on the coupling ‘Materiality’ and ‘Immateriality’. Historically, philosophy has often been characterized as a distancing from the material domain of sensible reality and practices, seeking refuge in the immaterial domain of thought, ideas and forms. Increasingly, however, the problematic nature of this relationship has come to the fore through a number of highly debated and intertwined issues concerning philosophy’s connections across science, nature, art and politics. Different approaches to subjectivation, for instance, have explored the question of embodiment, the materiality of thought, and the notion of affects. New philosophies of art have reopened the problem of materiality through the conceptualisation of sound, matter, practice and nature. And in its relation to politics, philosophy has recovered the notion of materiality, placing it at the core of a number of concepts, such as labour, emancipation, and resistance. As a result, the materiality/immateriality distinction is increasingly coming to lend itself to possible reconfigurations of the mutual relations and interplay between these three topics: subjectivation, aesthetics, and politics.

From this standpoint, our conference seeks to address the materiality/immateriality distinction in modern and contemporary philosophy. In which ways can philosophy problematize materiality and immateriality to reconfigure and transform its fundamental questions? Beyond the dualism of the materiality/immateriality distinction, how can we think the intricacies of their conjunctions? What are the privileged and possible standpoints from which to thematize or critique their relation? In which ways can we conceptualize the passage from immateriality to materiality as the crossing of a threshold? Does this crossing open up new theoretical spaces?

A One-Day Conference-workshop with Antonia Birnbaum (University of Paris

The common trait of modern philosophical reconfigurations of the materiality/ immateriality couplet was the impulse to problematize, through various strategies, overlooked intricacies and unexplored arrangements of terms hidden within traditional dualistic paradigms. This produced, as a consequence, new modalities of theoretical and practical endeavour. What then, if anything, survives of this impulse today? And, in light of the contemporary philosophical and non-philosophical conjuncture, what would now constitute an adequate treatment of the material/immaterial distinction? These are some of the questions which this conference-workshop will address.

Thinking through materiality and immateriality with Antonia Birnbaum, we will address questions of subjectivity, politics, sensation, experience and cognition through the lenses of contemporary philosophy. And we expect to unfold anew the shifting contours of idealism and materialism alike, by negotiating their respective interrogations of conceptual, sonic, artistic, feminist, and scientific terrains. On this trajectory we shall encounter Adorno’s imageless materialism, Rancière’s disidentification, Deleuze’s materialist pragmatics, Laruelle’s materio-logic, Delanda’s aesthetic of emergence, and more. We will finish with an open roundtable discussion looking at the thematic threads that have been pursued during the day.

Antonia Birnbaum is a philosopher and an art critic based in Paris. She has written extensively on Nietzsche, Descartes, Benjamin, politics and contemporary art, and will be presenting her recent work on subjectivity and emancipation in Rancière and Foucault.

Registration for the conference is free. To register please visit


  • Antonia Birnbaum
  • Sebastian Truskolaski - 'Theodor W. Adorno and the Self-­Effacement of Materialism'
  • Tom Whyman - 'Intellectual Experience and Speculative Materialism in Adorno'
  • Anindya Bhattacharyya - 'The Diagram as Ideograph: Mathematics and the Materialism of Form'
  • Claudia Mongini - 'Materiality at the Boundary Between Disparation and Dispersion'
  • Alan Boardman - 'Sensation, Matter, Emergence and Art: New Materialist Aesthetics'
  • James Lavender - 'Materiality and Ideality in Sound Studies: A Deleuzian Approach'
  • Malise Rosbech - 'The Identity of Woman: A Feminist Essay on the Materialism of Identity'
  • Tiina Nevanpera - 'Thinking Through and Within Materiality Inside Artistic Process'

For any other inquiries we can be reached at

See the conference blog at: 

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June 4, 2013, 2:00pm BST

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