Join us for “Terms of Engagement,” a free and open day-long workshop exploring critical questions about language, truth, and power in our current moment of human and environmental precarity, taking place in the Martin E. Segal Theatre at The Graduate Center, CUNY.

We live in an era of alternative facts where words seem to have lost their meaning and any grounding in material life, a condition that invites sustained consideration of the relationship between language, power, and practice. The concept of “forms of life”—which foregrounds how semantics and behavior are co-constitutive—offers a mode of investigating the entwinement of linguistic and material practices and possibilities. How does the undermining of shared understandings contribute to political projects of domination and oppression? What language might critics of the status quo summon to reach disillusioned and alienated audiences? In what ways might semantic practices preclude or enable the exercise of power? And, how do these dynamics function at the elite level and on the level of the ordinary?
This public workshop of the International Research Network, “Vulnerable and Dynamic Forms of Life,” in conversation with local scholars, will consider these and other critical questions about language, truth, and power in our current moment of human and environmental precarity. The event will be organized as a series of conversations throughout the day. Each of the presenters will speak about a concept central to their scholarship—such as #rage, #victimology, #blacklivesmatter, #vulnerability, #care—followed by open discussion with other attendees.

The “Vulnerable and Dynamic Forms of Life” International Research Network (GDRI) was formed in 2016 with the aim of organizing a distinct research field beyond disciplinary boundaries and intellectual traditions centered on the conception of “forms of life” from the ordinary language philosophy tradition of Wittgenstein, Cavell, and Austin, and the critical theory canon of Horkheimer, Foucault, and Agamben, among others. From ethics to sociology, from anthropology to politics, and as a major point of contact between the social sciences and the life sciences, “forms of life” enables critique of that which presents itself simply as given, and the conceptualization of new vulnerabilities of human forms of life.


Linda Alcoff, Hunter College & The Graduate Center, CUNY
Alyson Cole, Queens College & The Graduate Center, CUNY
Veena Das, Johns Hopkins University
Piergiorgio Donatelli, Sapienza Università di Roma
Estelle Ferrarese, UPJV – Université de Picardie Jules Verne – Page officielle
Sandra Laugier, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne
Kyoo Lee, John Jay College of Criminal Justice & The Graduate Center, CUNY
Charles Mills, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Claire Potter, The New School
B Stone, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Deva Woodly, The New School

Co-sponsored by the Advanced Research Collaborative, The Graduate Center, Africana Studies Program, Anthropology Program, Philosophy Program, Political Science Program at The Graduate Center, CUNY, the The Center for the Humanities, The Office of the Provost, Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

With generous support from The Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris.

Click here for more information about this event and the participants: https://www.centerforthehumanities.org/programming/terms-of-engagement

Click here to download the workshop poster: https://assets.centerforthehumanities.org/downloads/Terms-of-Engagement-Poster.pdf