Connective Mutations: Autonomy & Subjectivation in the Coming Century
A Seminar with Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi
September 3rd –  6th, 2009 – New York City
Organized by 16Beaver & Minor Compositions

Connective Mutations

The concept of the subject is crucial for radical philosophy of the second half of the twentieth century. Arguments and debates over the nature of the subject, the location and nature of the revolutionary subject, have vastly shaped radical politics and organizing. The work of Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze changes the frame of this discussion, proposing the concept of subjectivation, or becoming-subject, as a framework to understand the multiple becomings and states of social encounters. This concept of subjectivation overlaps significantly with the concept of class recomposition developed in the 1960s and 70s by autonomist thinkers such as Sergio Bologna, Mario Tronti and Toni Negri. Both strains of thought focus on how forms of social antagonism and resistance give rise to new social positions and possibilities for collective becomings.

Today we find ourselves in a transformed condition, one created by techno-anthropological and connective mutations, marked by overwhelming flows of immaterial labor and information flows that threaten to exceed the limits of the body. Cyberspace may be infinite, but cybertime is not. This intensification and expansion of technological dynamics and automatisms makes problematic the very possibility of collective subjectivation. Have we reached a stated where the immersive flows of information, affect, and desire act to dampen or even preempt the emergence of new collective subjects?

This seminar will explore the contemporary history of the subject, tracing it through:

1. The Hegelian renaissance in Marxist thought and the discussion of alienation: the subject in the work of Herbert Marcuse and Hans-Jürgen Krahl;
2. Italian autonomous Marxism: the subject in Tronti and in Negri;
3. In French post-structuralism. Not subject, but subjectivation. Foucault’s genealogy and Guattari’s singularity;
4. The recombinant age. Is subjectivation possible in the condition of fractal connectivity?

What effects on the possibility for social recomposition has the passage from the sphere of conjunction to the sphere of connection had? By drawing from history and analysis of social movements of the last twenty years, their successes and failures in translating political activism into conditions for social recomposition of labor, it becomes possible to reconsider the effects of this transformation. By considering the effects of this ongoing transformation and its connective mutations, it becomes possible to explore the possibilities for autonomy and collective subjectivation in the coming century.

Connective Mutations  Schedule
September 3rd – 6th, 2009

Thursday 9/3 5pm Overture: Genealogies of the Future, Compositions of the Present.

Introduction: 5:00pm – 7:00pm
7:00pm – 9:00pm Introductory talk by Bifo & discussion
9 or 10pm: converge with Change You Want See event & dance party

Friday 9/4
10:00am – 12:00pm Visit to Coney Island Museum, Amateur Psychoanalytic Society Exhibition, presentation and discussion with curator Zoe Beloff [directions here]
12:00pm – 1:00 pm Lunch & exploring
1:00pm – 2:00pm returning to 16 Beaver
2:00pm – 3:30pm The Art Strike & Recombinant Imagination, session with Erika Biddle & Stevphen Shukaitis
3:30pm – 4:00 break
4:00pm – 5:30pm Second presentation from Bifo & discussion
5:30pm – 6:00pm Break
6:00pm – 9:00pm Technology, Autonomy, and Collaborative Subjectivity Organized by Jack Bratich (Jonah Bossewitch & Annie Robinson, Icarus Project; Jamie McClelland, Alfredo Lopez & Mallory Knodel, MayFirst-PeopleLink; Paolo Pedercini, MolleIndustria)
9:00pm – 11:00pm Dinner & discussion

Saturday 9/5
11:00am – 12:00pm Labor of Recombination (Abe Walker, Jim Fleming)
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00pm – 2:00pm Recapitulation & discussion
2:00pm – 2:30pm open
2:30pm – 4:00pm Presentation & discussion with Bifo
4:00pm – 5:30 Session with Brian Holmes & Claire Pentecost
5:30pm – 6:00pm break
6:00pm – 7:00 session with Ken Wark
7:00pm – 8:00pm Jackie Orr, Performing BioTerrors: A PSYCHOpolitics of Simulation
8:00pm – 9:00pm Discussion
9:00pm – 11:00pm Dinner

Sunday 9/6
11:00am – 12:00 Session with Stephen Duncombe, networked subjectivity & collaborative/distributed imagination
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Lunch
1:00pm – 2:00pm Recapitulation of themes & discussion
2:00pm – 3:30pm Presentation & discussion with Bifo
3:30pm – 4:30pm Open
4:30pm – 5:30pm non-dialectical synthesis & recombinant discussion