Discord is theme of social theory conference at Glendon


Above: Banner from the International Social Theory Consortium’s Web site

York’s Graduate Program in Social & Political Thought (SPT) is hosting the 5th Annual International Social Theory Consortium, Discord, at the Glendon campus, 2275 Bayview Ave., Sunday to Wednesday, June 6-9. 

This year’s consortium conference features scores of presentations from academics from Canada – including several from York University – the US, Mexico, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. “There are over 100 papers to be given over four days, and the interdisciplinary scope is dazzling,” said York Professor Deborah Britzman, SPT graduate program director. Britzman and York Professor Brian Singer, faculty member in SPT, are the chief organizers of the event.

With the conference title and theme, Discord, presentations will focus on the nature of clashes, divergences, disagreements and conflicts in various areas of life. Some will concentrate on discord in international relations, citizenship and globalization; others will highlight discord at the level of thought, conscience and personality; and still others will examine social conflict and tragedy as these are reflected through the media, art and monuments.

Right: Artist Shaun O’Boyle’s image of a broken piano, used on posters advertising ‘Discord’

“The consortium chose a broken piano as the image for its conference theme, ‘Discord’, to represent the absence of concord, and to indicate dissension and dissonance,” explained Neil Braganza, a member of the consortium’s 2004 organizing committee. “We feel Shaun O’Boyle’s image of the elegant but old, corroded and eviscerated grand piano, with its smashed keys, captures many of the dimensions that can be in play when thinking about ‘discord’.”

“The International Social Theory Consortium was originally established to bring together programs like York’s Program in Social & Political Thought,” said Singer, who was the graduate program director of SPT when the consortium was co-founded through the program in 1999. “And, while such programs still remain the institutional basis of the consortium, its annual conferences attract ‘fellow travellers’ from a wide variety of departments and institutions.

“This year’s conference, which promises to be one of the largest, is the first to be held in Canada, and provides an opportunity for international exposure on, as it were, home turf,” said Singer. “It will also be, thanks to the peculiarities of SSHRC’s funding formula, the first to be centred on a theme. As such, it is expected to have a coherence that previous conferences did not have, with many of the papers being written specifically for the conference.”

The International Social Theory Consortium is a grouping of teaching and research programs in social theory from around the world. The purpose of the consortium is to support research that takes place “outside the box” in the cross-over between the humanities and the social sciences. The consortium has over 45 academic programs from Canada, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Lithuania and the United States.

Right: Image used on the consortium’s ‘Discord’ Web site

Panel discussions this year will cover a broad range of topics, from “Body and Spirit”, “Representing Eros/Death”, Capitalism and Critique” and “International Concord and Discord” to “Otherwise than Being”, “Familiar Strangers”, “Poor Oedipus” and “Alternative Globalization”.

For conference schedule, abstracts, registration info and other details, visit the consortium’s “Discord” Web site.

Event sponsors are the SSHRC Aid to Occasional Research Conferences and International Congresses, and the following areas in the York community: Glendon’s Office of the Principal; Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation; Office of the Vice-President Academic; Faculty of Graduate Studies; Faculty of Arts; Graduate Program in Women’s Studies; Graduate Program in Education; Graduate Program in Anthropology; Graduate Program in English; and Glendon College.

About York’s Social & Political Thought Program

Founded in 1973, York University’s interdisciplinary Graduate Program in SPT, leading to MA and PhD degrees, is not associated with any particular school of thought, and stresses both historical and systematic study of social and political ideas. In cooperation with the participating academic disciplines from across the University, the program’s curriculum is structured around three flexible areas of study: history of social & political thought, society & economy, and consciousness & society.

York panelists

York panelists, a mixture of faculty and graduate students taking part in the consortium, are as follows:

Joshua Bates – MA student in SPT: “Beyond Good and Evil: False Binaries in the September 11th Aftermath”

Colleen Bell – PhD student in political science: “Shot Through the Heart: The State, Sovereignty and Genealogy as a Strategy of Critique”

Greg Bird – PhD student in sociology: “Existential-(Marxism) and Autonomous Praxis”

Diane Borsato – PhD student in communications & culture: “Warm Things to Chew for the Dead”

Neil Braganza – PhD student in SPT: “On Levinas’s Esotericism”

Deborah P. Britzman – Professor of SPT, Faculty of Graduate Studies: “Sigmund Freud, Melanie Klein and Little Oedipus: On the Pleasures and Disappointments of Sexual Enlightenment”

Jessica Cameron – PhD student in SPT: “Fucking Ourselves to Death: Bataille, Sex, and Art”

Colin Campbell – PhD student in SPT: “Political Economy and General Economy”

Mielle Chandler – PhD student in SPT: “Democracy, Performance and the Being of Bees”

Baolinh Dang – MA student in SPT: “An Antidote for Self Delusion: Madhyamaka, Brain Science, and Phenomenological Experience in the Search for (No)Self”

Elisabeth Friedman –PhD student in SPT: “Charlotte Salomon: From the Archive to the Art Gallery”

Ratiba Hadj-Moussa – Professor of sociology, Faculty of Arts: “The Concord Imaginary and the Reality of the Discord”

Engin Isin – York’s Canada Research Chair in Citizenship Studies: “City of Discord”

Nakjung Kim – PhD student in political science: “Why Do We Have to Return to the ‘Subject’?: Karel Kosik’s and Enzo Paci’s Criticism of the Reductionism of the Official Marx-Leninism”

Matthew King – PhD student in philosophy: “To Whom Does the Critic Write?: Habermas and Foucault on Universalism, Partisanship, and Foundations”

Kristine Klement – PhD student in SPT: “Masochism and Identification: Queer Attachments to Subjection”

Fuyuki Kurasawa – Professor of sociology, Faculty of Arts: “Alternative Globalization and the Practice of Cosmopolitan Solidarity”

Alex Levant – PhD student in SPT: “Rethinking Spontaneity: Re-reading Luxemburg through Benjamin”

Michael Marder – PhD student in SPT: “‘The Longest Breath There Is’: Levinasian Philosophy of Breathing”

John-Justin McMurtry — Sessional professor in the Division of Social Science, Faculty of Arts: “The Life Aporia of Marxian Theory”

Astrida Neimanis – PhD student in SPT: “What is Rhizophenomenology?”

John O’Neill – Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus of sociology: “His Majesty The Baby: Ego-mimesis, Narcissism and the Politics of Love”

Michael Palamarek – PhD student in SPT: “The Dirempted Human Condition: Labour, Work, and Action in Hannah Arendt”

Jesse Payne – MA student in political science: “Changing the Rules of Engagement: The Role of Videogames in the Struggle for Social Justice”

Aaron Peck – MA student in English: “Bewilderments: ‘Studio Visit’ and ‘Diorama’”

Eva Portillo – MA student in women’s studies: “Dreaming Home, Finding Home”

Karen Ruddy – PhD student in SPT: “Ethical/Political Subjects: Reflections on Althusser and Caputo”

Shokoufeh Sakhi – PhD student in political science: “Worker’s Unite, You Have More to Lose than Your Mortgage!”

Karyn Sandlos – PhD student in SPT: “AIDS, Aesthetics and the Ethics of Failing to Respond in Time”

Christine Shaw– PhD student in SPT, and artist and independent curator: “Intuition Is (or Isn’t?)…”

Jonathan Short – PhD student in SPT: “Political Sovereignty and Ethical Response”

Sharon Sliwinski – PhD student in SPT: “An Ethics of Failure: Thinking about the photographs from Abu Ghraib”

Catherine Swenson – PhD student in SPT: “Our ‘Saving Power?’ Integral Vision as a Response to the Danger of Technology”

Ryan Toews – PhD student in political science: “Neoliberalism, Turnitin, and the Policing of the University”

Kathy Walker – PhD student in SPT: “I Can’t Stop Watching CNN: Derrida and the A-Politics of Melancholia”

Karen Walker – PhD student in SPT: “Signifying Humanism: Heidegger and National Identity in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction”

Lorna Weir – Professor of sociology, Faculty of Arts: “Normalisation vs. Normativity”

Elke Winter – PhD student in sociology: “Nation, State and Pluralism: a Sociological Approach”

Ali Hassan Zaidi – PhD candidate in sociology: “Islam and Modernity: the Promise of a Dialogical Understanding”