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[oldboys] Engineering Gender
cornelia on Tue, 8 Apr 2003 16:02:11 +0200 (CEST)

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[oldboys] Engineering Gender

Call for Papers:
Engineering Gender. 
Configurations of Cybernetic, Virtual, and Biopolitical Existence
Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet, 
Muenster, Germany, 
November 6 ˆ 8, 2003. 
genus ˆ Muensteraner Arbeitskreis fuer gender studies 
Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet Muenster

Call for papers for the conference „Engineering Gender. Configurations of
Cybernetic, Virtual, and Biopolitical Existence‰, to be held at the
Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet, Muenster, Germany, November 6 ˆ 
8, 2003. 

The discourses about the bio-, genetic, or information technological
construction of human beings have an impact on the images of „man‰ 
as well as on the conceptualizations of identities and genders. These 
discourses appear to deal with drawing border lines between nature and 
culture. Based on the experience that „authenticity‰ can be generated 
artificially, it is impossible now to give a clear answer the question of what 
is „natural‰. These shifts of border lines can be assembled in a term 
coined by Donna Haraway: The „cyborg‰ " (cybernetic organism) has 
sparked off a number of controversies in the last years.

The various definitions of cybernetic organisms developed so far range 
from the hybrid man-machines of science fiction via real connections 
between technology and biological organisms in modern implant 
medicine to the cyborg as metaphor of a subversive existence. What is a 
cybernetic organism ˆ someone with a pacemaker, artificial limbs, 
medical implants, or the person moving in cyberspace? What 
implications do such man-machine compounds have on our notions
of identities and formation of human subjects? And in particular: which
gender(s) may the cybernetic existence have?

Reality can be simulated by means of information technology. At the same
time, it has been understood as a social construction. Constituted and 
„updated‰ through a continuing repetition of performative acts that 
confirm discursive attributions, reality cannot be „authentically‰ 
experienced. In relation to the possibilities of agency and experience, is 
there any qualitative difference between virtual and „real life‰ reality? If 
yes, what can it do? Does virtual reality include the opportunity to create a 
Foucaultian „other room‰ in which a subversion and transformation of 
the established gender identities is possible? 

Not least due to the rapid developments in biotechnological procedures,
genetic engineering, new technologies of reproduction, and transplant 
medicine, traditional ideals based on a notion of the human body as 
„closed‰ and autonomous are put into question. The existence of 
biotechnologies suggest a body in need of improvement and in waiting for 
perpetual „corrections‰: Genetically based dysfunctions shall be 
„cured‰; reproduction can take place outside the (female) body; cloning 
might produce the „perfect‰ man. Which utopian images
of the body lurk behind the controversial biotechnological promises of
salvation? Do these promises emerge from a unifying phantasm that 
attempts to eliminate the „unsuitable‰, queer Other? Is the 
constructed-as-natural sex put up to discussion? Do gender-related 
cultural attributions perish?

There are too many different sides to these discourses to leave their
analysis to one academic discipline only. The conference will provide
representatives of all disciplines with a platform to make creative use of 
scholarly differences. We explicitly welcome an interdisciplinary  scholarly, 
student and non-academic audience. Presentations are expected to 
address a non-expert audience and lay open the speaker‚s disciplinary 
and methodological approach.

Contributions may include scholarly presentations, film screenings, art 
shows, and performances. Panels will be formed to address the three 
focal points of the conference: cybernetics, virtuality, and biopolitics.
Proposals should not extend two pages in length and include the title of 
the presentation, a brief abstract, and your name, address, and affiliation. 
The deadline for proposals is April 30, 2003. Please send proposals to 
the following address or e-mail address (e-mail attachments should be in
word-compatible or pdf format):
Muensteraner Arbeitskreis fuer gender studies
Bispinghof 5/8
48143 Muenster
genus {AT} uni-muenster.de
genus will cover accommodation and travel expenses of participants 
giving a presentation and pay an allowance (amount yet to be determined) 
for presentations.
Please do not hesitate to ask if you have further questions or 

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