Symposium—Conserving Active Matter: History @ Bard Grad Center, November 1

November 1, 9:15am – 6:15pm
Bard Grad Center, 38 W 86th St
Website / RSVP

This event is part of “Conserving Active Matter: A Cultures of Conservation Research Project,” a collaboration between Bard Graduate Center, the Humboldt University (Berlin), and the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam). This initiative aims to bring new developments in materials science and new ways of thinking about matter to create new ways of thinking about the future of conservation. The project is articulated through semester-themed explorations along four axes: Indigenous ontologies (spring 2018), history (fall 2018), materials science (spring 2019), and philosophy (fall 2019).

The working group on “Active Matter and History” (Peter N. Miller, Ittai Weinryb) aims to contextualize the current interest in active matter lest we become too enamored of the present and too constrained by our own limited horizons. Probing the boundaries of dualistic thought, from Pre-Socratics to plastics, this workshop will help us understand exactly how we got to the point that the activity of organic matter had to be rediscovered at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Beyond genealogy, however, the recognition that conceptual mis-en-scène is one, long, historical artifact raises new possibilities for rethinking activity along the arc of all those other victims of dualization, such as the subject/object, archaic/modern, living/non-living, human/non-human, and West/Eastern dichotomies.

Panels on Magic, Buddhism, Subjectivities, Traditions, Modernism

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