Upcoming Conference: "Rethinking Sovereignty"

Monday, April 06, 2015

This conference rethinks the concept of sovereignty without the aid of the political-theological structures that have subtended it. The discussion will situate the question of sovereignty along a broad spectrum of disciplinary perspectives including literary studies, political science, law, philosophy, and human rights. 

April 17-18, 2015


Venue(s): Friday (Rockefeller Institute, 411 State Street); Saturday (Downtown Campus, 135 Western Avenue, 200 Milne)

Rethinking Sovereignty

The past several years have witnessed a growing literature on the critique of nation-state sovereignty and its political-theological legacy. From Agamben's State of Exception to Hardt's and Negri's argument in Empire that nation-state sovereignty is on the wane, there is a developing sense that the structures that have governed modern conceptions of sovereignty have been displaced or undermined.


GREGG LAMBERTOn the Principles of Vitalpolitik: Between “Raw” and “Cooked” Capitalism

Professor Lambert's talk will address one of the primary sources of Foucault’s concept of biopolitics from the 1978-79 seminar, the economic model of German Ordoliberalism, in the context of the subsequent confusion of this theory by early readers of Foucault’s theory; in particular, Deleuze’s early reading of discipline and control in the 1985-86 seminar on Foucault, as well as in the subsequent works Foucault (1986) and “Post-Scriptum sur les societes de controle” (1990).

Gregg Lambert is Dean's Professor of the Humanities at Syracuse University and Principal Investigator of the Central New York Humanities Corridor, an Andrew W. Mellon funded research network among Cornell University, University of Rochester, Syracuse University and the Liberal Arts Colleges of the New York Six Consortium. Professor Lambert has published several books: In Search of a New Image of Thought: Gilles Deleuze and Philosophical Expressionism (2012); On the New Baroque (2008); Who’s Afraid of Deleuze and Guattari? (2008); The Return of the Baroque in Modern Culture (2005); The Non-Philosophy of Gilles Deleuze (2003), and Report to the Academy (re: The New Conflict of the Faculties) (2001). Forthcoming are: Return Statements: On the Blackmail of the Enlightenment, P̶h̶i̶l̶o̶sophy After Friendship, and To Have Done with the State of Exception: 3 Essays on Sovereignty Today.  

KALPANA R. SESHADRIResituating Sovereignty: Toward a Posthuman Economics

Once again it is a time of global crisis, and crises, as Jacques Derrida has shown, are routine events in the history of Western philosophy centered on human being as zoon politikon. But the crisis today signals a shift, namely, the subjugation and erasure of the very concept of the political, and the domination of Homo Politicus by Homo Economicus. However, the question of sovereignty in relation to the global economy as a question of the planetary rule of species life is yet to be fully formulated. The autonomy of the financial world and its power to call for states of exception defy normative theories of state as well as popular sovereignty. We observe that the global is now bisected by the planetary, and that the geopolitics of homo economicus is entirely implicated in the geo-temporality of the anthropocene.

To begin, then, the process of questioning as always in media res: How does contemporary governmentality, or the management of life, separate and articulate economy and ecology? How does the paradigm of growth—growth understood as specifically economic expansion measured as GDP—deepen this cleavage? What is the role of the financial sector in driving policies of slow and rapid ecocide? What is the relation between the nature of economies and the economy of nature? After examining and critiquing the logic of finance-driven growth as the face of modern power, this paper turns to the ways in which potentially transformative relations between the economy and ecology, specifically with regard to technology and nature, are being thought today across the disciplines as pointers toward a posthuman economics.

Kalpana R. Seshadri is Professor of English at Boston College where she teaches courses in contemporary theory with attention to the history and cultures of British imperialism and globalization. Her research focuses on the philosophy of race and post-humanism. She is the author of HumAnimal: Race, Law, Language (Minnesota, 2012), Desiring Whiteness: A Lacanian Analysis of Race (Routledge, 2000), and co-editor of The Pre-Occupation of Post-Colonial Studies (Duke UP, 2000). Her current book project is entitled “What is Post-Human Economics?” Kalpana serves on the Editorial Board of the PMLA, and has recently completed her second tenure as co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Graduate Consortium of Women’s Studies (GCWS) at MIT. 

For more information and full conference schedule, please visit:


The conference has been organized by the Liberal Studies Program at the University at Albany in collaboration with the Departments of English and Political Science. Additional support provided by: CAS Conference Support, Office of the Vice President for Research, UAS Supplemental Program Funds, CAS Dean's Office, Women's Studies, Departments of Philosophy, and Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and The Society for the Study of Biopolitical Futures, a joint initiative of the Central New York Humanities Corridor and 3CT Rice University.

Co-organizers for this year's conference include: Natalie Amiama, Michael Amrozowicz, Richard Barney, Glyne Griffith, Alice Hofmann, Josh Keller, Ilka Kressner, Kir Kuiken, Jon Mandle, Torrey Shanks, Charles Shepherdson, and Joel Sodano.


Questions about the conference can be directed to Profs. Richard Barney ( or Kir Kuiken (


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