The Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University Presents:
Human Futures
Friday, April 24, 2015
Rutgers – New Brunswick

Keynote Speaker: Alexander Weheliye

Associate Professor of African American Studies
Northwestern University
Author of Habeas Viscus: Racializing Assemblages, Biopolitics, and Black Feminist Theories of the Human
Duke University Press, 2014

Proposals Due: January 5, 2015 at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

In confronting futurity within global conditions of increasing economic stratification and distress, the social and the political are traditionally viewed through an anthropocentric lens that takes human agency and voice as its central determinants. In this context, emergent work in posthumanism, sciences studies, disability studies, animal studies, “new” materialisms, and affect theory seeks to de-exceptionalize human experience as the dominant force that impels global change by challenging conventional understandings of what constitutes agency and the political in relation to more-than-human entities.

At the same time, fields including critical race studies, queer of color critique, decolonial and postcolonial studies, trans studies, disability studies, and feminist critique raise questions regarding the privileged parameters of some of these other-than-human approaches; many argue
for re-centering analyses of the axes of race, gender, sexuality and ability in discussions of politics and the future, given that multiple marginalized and underrepresented peoples have yet to acquire “human” status in the framework of European Humanism and Western Modernity.

What does it mean to turn to the other-than-human precisely when the human is being made extinct along lines of gender, race, class and location by capitalism and coloniality?

We invite graduate students from all departments and fields to take a convivial approach to these debates:

  • How might we reflect on the impact of more-than-human biological and earthly forces on subjectivity, sexuality, ability and race?
  • Can we theorize through a non-anthropocentric vision of ecology, politics, and the social while keeping in mind the axes of differentiation that subjectivize the human today?
  • What futures can we collectively imagine that both de-center the liberal Human subject and provide ways of understanding human experience beyond the violent confines of Western Modernity?
  • What subjugated knowledges and practices already view the world and the future through a non-anthropocentric lens?
  • How are the humanities and the social sciences particularly equipped to mediate the oppositional approaches to the human, futurity, posthumanism(s), and antifuturity?
  • How can different ways of knowing –other academic disciplines, spiritual practices, collective knowledges– bring new insights to these questions?

We welcome papers that broadly relate to these issues. We also invite you to interpret these themes loosely, offer alternative frames for the discourse, or critique them.

Artist Presentation: Brief 15 to 20-minute presentations will be made available to artists, poets, performers, and curators who wish to present original work related to the conference topic.

Submissions will be evaluated by standard conference review process; a group of graduate students not presenting at the conference will make decisions regarding proposals and panels. We are dedicated to demystifying this process by attempting to make it as transparent as possible. If you have any questions before or after submitting a proposal, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

We welcome you to join us in these conversations, and we look forward to your contributions!