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Composite Bodies Series | Entangled Nuclear Colonialisms, Matters of Force, and the Material Force of Justice

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The Composite Bodies Series is a partnership between the Northeastern University Humanities Center and the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard. It is convened by Patricia Williams (University Distinguished Professor of Law and Humanities, Northeastern University) and  Caroline Light (Senior Lecture on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Harvard University).

In this talk, Karen Barad will expand upon their pathbreaking article “After the End of the World” (Theory & Event, 2019), which states that “quantum theory is shot through with the political.” In order to demonstrate, in relation to the theme of composite bodies, the highly political nature of not only our modes of meaning making, but of matter, they will outline the socio-political dimensions of their agential realist reworking of quantum physics and will briefly discuss the political nature of matter, followed by a discussion of the article and its implications for notions of justice. Barad’s lecture will provide the ground for a conversation with Daniela Gandorfer, who is currently a postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz working with Barad, and the co-founder of the Logische Phantasie Lab, a research agency that investigates injustices resulting from political, legal, economic, social, physical, and environmental entanglements.

About the Speakers

Karen Barad is Distinguished Professor of Feminist Studies with affiliations in Philosophy, History of Consciousness, and Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UC Santa Cruz. In addition, they are a founding member of the Science and Justice Research Center, and served as the Director of the SJRC Graduate Training Program. Best known for their theory of agential realism, worked out in detail in Meeting the Universe Halfway: Quantum Physics and the Entanglement of Matter and Meaning (Duke University Press, 2007), Barad critically addresses the onto-epistemological practices of matter and meaning making.

Daniela Gandorfer received her PhD in Comparative Literature at Princeton. Dr. Gandorfer is currently a postdoctoral scholar at UC Santa Cruz, working with the philosopher and quantum physicist Karen Barad. Her main research interests include literature and media theory, critical legal studies, environmental humanities, affect theory, political philosophy, process philosophy, art and architectural theory, and digital humanities.

Patricia Williams is University Distinguished Professor of Law and Humanities at Northeastern University

Caroline Light is Senior Lecture on Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University

About the Series

In a moment where our collective health depends on technological innovation – including “contact tracing” through the collection and storage of cell phone data – visual, biometric, and other forms surveillance collect us as pinpoints of data. Composite Bodies takes up questions of technology, surveillance, embodiment, and power from an intersectional feminist lens. Through critical engagements with law, philosophy, art, history, bioethics, criminology, and advocacy, this series will address how the machine measurement and tracking of bodies is reconceptualizing notions of privacy while complicating the boundaries of the body as an integrated whole, reproducing and reinforcing biases based on race, class, gender, and other historically disabling taxonomies.

Additional information can be found here.

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