Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 6-7 April 2017, Fabianinkatu 24 HElsinki, 1st Floor

The purpose of this symposium is to explore the multiple ways in which the body can be understood as a vechicle for emancipation in the age of modern governance. Emancipation is one of the crucial categories of contemporary philosophy. Since the Enlightenment, it has been a central feature of two of the most important trends in social philosophy: Liberalism and Marxism. Emancipation is deeply rooted in modernity, which has often been perceived in terms of the struggle between the fundamental concepts that underlie these two ostensibly opposing versions of society: freedom and equality. The scholarly discourse on emancipation has by and large focused on these two major ideologies.

In this symposium, we aim to gather experts from philosophy, literature, history and art history, musiology, disability studies and cultural studies to move beyond these grand narratives of emancipation. Our suggestion is that thinking about emancipation should not be confined to sweeping ideologies but should look the particular actions and involvements that have helped to drive forward the emancipation of social life. The conference will focus on a ‘politics of small things’ – the everyday struggle for liberation that is carried out through localized, often Private, unconscious and mechanically repetitive practices rather than explicitly political and often public rethorics and discourses.

We propose to explore these emancipatory practices of the modern body through five thematic strands: The Aesthetic Body (nude culture, food and the visual atrs, literary suicidology), Gender and Sexuality (feminist discourse, queer theory), Embodied Rhetoric and Articulation (practices of dysfluency, voice and ethnicity, Deaf narratives), Habit and Somaesthetics: Pragmatist Approaches to the Body (embodied communities, corporeal creativity) and Phenomenologies of the Body (e.g. sensory perception, embodied cognition and intentionality, neurophenomenology).