Call for Papers: Rhetoric Graduate Conference


Jun 22, 2015

Organized by the graduate students of UC Berkeley’s Department of Rhetoric

The debate about the human has long haunted the humanities. Since antiquity, humanism has sought to define human nature’s essence while concomitantly situating the human being at the center of the universe as the “measure of all things.” This conference considers the fate of the human in the age of transhumanist intersubjectivity—signaled by the ongoing development of supplementary technologies designed to extend human capacities, such as AI and SynBio—attending to new political forms that challenge anthropocentrism and that emerge concurrently with anthropocentrism. Might inhuman conditions become the conditions of possibility for humanity?

We invite papers from a range of disciplines and approaches, including, but not limited to, anthropology, law, philosophy, critical theory, visual culture, intellectual history, history of science and technology, and literature.

Our goal is to bring into conversation the inhuman conditions in various parts of the globe on different scales and spaces and to think with these forms of mapping in order to understand their limits and what possible worlds they open politically and ethically. Specifically, we hope to interrogate the nature of biological life as undifferentiated from the form of existence proper to the human being as metaphysical and political subject.

Abstracts of 300 words on the topics listed below can be sent to

The inhuman and/in the humanities
Humanism, transhumanism, posthumanism, and inhumanism
Animality and the divine
The carceral state and/or state violence
Ecology, anthropocene, and environment
The legacy of global capitalism
The inhuman in literature
Biosecurity, governance, necropolitics, and human rights
Gendered and racialized (in)human subjects, biopolitical constructions of race and racialized subjects
Queer and postcolonial critique

Abstracts are due June 30th. Selected participants will be notified by July 27th.

The keynote speaker for this conference is Karen Barad. Karen Barad is Professor of Feminist Studies, Philosophy, and History of Consciousness at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Barad’s Ph.D. is in theoretical particle physics and quantum field theory. Barad held a tenured appointment in a physics department before moving into more interdisciplinary spaces. Barad is the author of Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007) and numerous articles in the fields of physics, philosophy, science studies, poststructuralist theory, and feminist theory.