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Humanities unplugged


Joint Symposion Berlin / Doctoral Seminar

November 11th - 13th 2010

Call for Papers

Our humanities appear as an ideal breeding ground for isolated and self-sufficient discursive mass-masturbation, constantly producing and nurturing scientific communities of the academic undead by hard-wiring them to their natural resources: papers, lectures, theories, examples, concepts, authors, footnotes, quotes, discourses, methods, studies, criticism etc.At the same time the humanities find themselves in constant threat of becoming irrevocably unplugged from their financial and/or institutional resources as their immediate contribution to dealing with humanities’ most urgent problems, crises, changes and challenges is doubted, the humanities’ relevance for humanities put into question.With Humanities Un-plugged we would like to initiate a reflection of energies and exhaustions within the humanities which we believe can only be done in a practical self- application: by finding and creating ways and formats of questioning the very nature of academic self-representations. To un-plug from the commonly unquestioned resources we are academically addicted to neither implies a community detoxification, a therapeutical intervention in order to cure the humanities from their internal and external (human and inhuman) threats and dangers. Nor does it imply the retrieval of other (cleaner, greener) energy providers. It is rather the attempt to playfully experiment with the power buttons, switching them on and off, thereby releasing unpredictable and unexpectable energies and exhaustions.We would like you to understand Humanities Un-plugged as an invitation to create a game show, which does not remain in a mere repetition of well-known patterns obediently played through up to complete exhaustion. It rather implies the construction of an (un)academic playing field, taking its playful character quite seriously. We believe it is time to not only reflect upon the tools, protagonists, patterns, scenographies etc. constituting the business of the humanities but rather to develop ways of experimentally staging these reflection machineries:What makes an academic event an academic event? What is needed for the staging of a conference, a congress, a lecture, a talk, a panel discussion...? What happens if one consciously plays with the well-known ingredients, protagonists, settings of an academic event by shifting its basic conditions from the neglected periphery to the very centre of the event? What comes about if a call for papers refuses papers and thereby poses itself as questionable in itself? What happens if a lecture is not given but performed (e.g. by an actress)? What occurs if the panel discussion takes place while queuing for the buffet lunch, unannounced and seemingly unprepared... In short: What happens if one tries to stage, play, act, perform an academic event by focusing on its framework rather than just »organising« it?

WORKSHOP: AIMS & TARGETSThe primary idea of »InterArt« in terms of an increasing interweaving, blurring and merging of the (non-)arts and their discourses provides us the model not only for a theoretical reconsideration of what constitutes a »conference« as aesthetic and political forum of knowledge production, but at the same time for a practical investigation of new forms of conference design. InterArt presents itself as suitable platform for our undertaking as it does not rest at the description of shifting boundaries and de-limitations from an external perspective, but rather inscribes itself in the playing field between theory and practice in its very performance.The Berlin InterArt Joint Symposium in November 2010 is going to be a three-day workshop. It is aimed at the development of event formats, which practically reflect upon the conditions that define the ways in which our research in the humanities is performed and conveyed. Its main objective is to develop an experimental interface between practical theory and theoretical practice critically questioning the „worldlessness“ of a talking about projects, topics, examples, artworks, theories etc.Our goal is to create one or a series of public events that could be realised in 2011 staging and performing the ideas developed during our workshop.The workshop itself will follow a non-hierarchical structure open for the emergence of unexpected contingencies, unanticipated encounters as well as productive irritations in which every participant is assigned an equally operative role. It will mainly consist of group work:Basic elements of academic event design will be jointly collected and then distributed to groups working on the creative rearrangement and shifting of the previously carved out aspects, which constitute and identify the academic. The groups’ composition will remain in a constant open flux throughout the entire workshop according to personal interest, motivation, boredom and exhaustion.For participation we do not request any formal qualification certificates, but we set up a virtual discussion platform instead where we would like to invite you to propose and discuss potential points of departures in the run-up for our work in situ. Instead of submitting a paper, every participant is asked to reflect upon questions of conference and research design in all conceivable artistic, theoretical or other ways and put them up for discussion on http://humanitiesunplugged.wordpress.com.With Humanities Unplugged we hope to elaborate and try out practices of relocation, sabotage, irritation and/or opening of our research projects in favour of triggering an unexpected exchange between the humanities, the arts and current global concerns that doesn’t remain at the surface of talking about a specific object in the context of an established discourse but rather incorporates the vivid and transboundary nature of its objects in its very own performance.


Contact:  <humanities.unplugged@googlemail.com>

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft