REGISTRATION OPENS (tea, coffee, pastries)
MORNING KEYNOTE: FANTASY
Opening Welcome, Conference Organisers
Keynote by Professor Felicity Callard: 'The use – and misuse – of daydreaming and fantasy'
Moderated by Lise Grønvold
PARALLEL SESSIONS 2: RESISTANCE
(Un)Dead Time: Spatial Confinement and Non-Productive Labor in Contemporary Art, Stephanie Grace Anderson
Ambience Factory, Sophie Bullock & Sophie Huckfield
Figures of Unwork, Valeria Graziano
Theorizing Black Domesticity, Dr Shoniqua Roach
Practical Self Care and Community Care: How to Recover from Burnout & Get Our Energy Back, LiLi Kathleen Bright
IMPROPER FREEDOMS (workshop)
Dreaming, Non Sensing and Means, Dr Holly Pester & Dr Ed Luker
(tea, coffee, biscuits)
PARALLEL SESSIONS 1: REST
‘‘Doing Nothing" Fatigue as Resistance to the Ideologies of Late Capitalism, Amanda Diserholt
Reparations for Black People Should Include Rest, Janine Francois
The Neuro-Politics of Sleep: Narcolepsy Activism, Work, Life, and Death, James Rakoczi
Landlocked: an Exploration of River Bathing, Pleasure and Sociality in the UK, George Townsend
Forever Strike! Estrangement and Utopian Temporality on Sussex Campus, Heather McKnight
Architecture of Passivism, Miloš Kosec
(lunch not provided, but a Food Market is available outside Malet Street Building)
PARALLEL SESSIONS 3: PLEASURE ACTIVISM
INTERVENTION: Un-writing Workshop, Louisa Harvey
Inside My Darkest and Deepest Everything: The Politics of Pain and Bodies of Counter Creativity, Farzana Khan
Producing Knowledge, in Pleasure, Together, Victoria Okoye
Xenogenesis: An Exploration of Skin & Touch, Niamh Vlahaki
I Don’t Care: The Practice of Unfeeling as Feminist, Queer of Colour Theory in the Flesh, Dr. Christine “Xine” Yao
Your Worth Is Not Measured By Your Productivity: A Radical Self Care Workshop for Queer Activists And Allies, Xiri Noir
REST & DINNER BREAK
(dinner not provided)
EVENING KEYNOTE: BEAUTIFUL EXPERIMENTS
Between a Whisper and a Cry (screening)
Keynote by Professor Saidiya Hartman in conversation with Dr Gail Lewis
Moderated by Ama Josephine Budge
Recent years have seen a rise in movements that oppose production and work in favour of centering pleasure, sustainability, and compassion. The popularity (and marketised co-optation) of self-care - attributed to Black and brown feminists such as Audre Lorde and more recently Sara Ahmed - and mindfulness practices - often appropriated from previously colonised states - demonstrate a desire for restitution and “time-out” from professional, emotional, and reproductive labour. Studies and manifestoes of the post-work movement (e.g. David Frayne’s The Refusal of Work (2015) and Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams’ Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work (2015)) envision a post-capitalist world in which work is ousted from its place of chief deity of neoliberalism. Is it because capitalism has finally gone too far and millennial's, as a recent viral article argued, are ‘the burnout generation’? What is certain is that stopping work (and, more recently, refusing school in the #schoolstrike4climate marches) continues to endure as a popular tool of protest, but one not always accessible to everyone.
Interest in what it means to “stop doing” can be seen across different disciplines. Scientific studies into rest, work and mental health uncover new ways of understanding (un)productivity. Social studies of unemployment, disability and illness activism challenge dominant modes of determining societal value. adrienne maree brown’s concept of pleasure activism seeks to rethink activism through the lens of pleasure, creating “a politics of healing and happiness that explodes the dour myth that changing the world is just another form of work”. Artistic and activist practices explore resistance theoretically and in practice, such as when contemporary novels like Han Kang’s The Vegetarian (2007) and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018) take up the refrain of “I would prefer not to” from Herman Melville’s classic short story of Bartleby the Scrivener, and tell the stories of people who decide to stop certain actions or wholly withdraw from society.
This conference explores activist instances of not doing in contemporary culture. Centering pleasure as a strategy for resistance, we want to explore the erotics of the still, inactive and unproductive. Through conversation, provocation, installation and self-care, we look at unproductivity as an activist practice and the ways in which caring, resting, suspending, pausing and breaking can be re/claimed as political acts by and for everyone, particularly those marginalised by the racial and gender inequalities of neo-liberal capitalism.
Please note that we're no longer accepting submissions.
In a culture that valorises busyness, productivity, pace and “progress”, stillness can be radical. Refusing, ignoring, omitting, not doing; sometimes the most political actions look like doing nothing at all. But who gets to not do? When and how is not doing a politicised, racialised, privileged, resistant or utopian act?
Through conversation, provocation, installation and self-care, we look at unproductivity as an activist practice and the ways in which caring, resting, suspending, pausing and breaking can be re/claimed as political acts by and for everyone, particularly those marginalised by the racial and gender inequalities of neo-liberal capitalism.
As part of this one-day conference, we are inviting paper proposals/provocations and interdisciplinary submissions from Birkbeck graduate students, early career researchers and individuals from wider academic, creative and activist communities. Alongside paper proposals, we welcome submissions of artworks, shorts films, and proposals for performances and acts of care. Please read the about section before submitting. Download and share our poster here.
Submission topics may include but are not limited to:
Acts of not doing: strategic (un)productivity, industrial action and anti-work activism
The psychology, science and medicine of stress and burnout
(Un)doing spaces: the geography, spatiality, and topology of work, rest and resistance
Radical business models - how to work by not working/and the efficiency of rest (e.g. Alisa Vitti’s Cycle Syncing Method which uses the menstrual cycle as a blueprint for launching and managing projects)
Who gets to not do? The politics and privilege of breaks, rest, strikes and self-care
The biology of work and rest
Translation and the act of omission
Disability/neurodiversity/illness activism and critique of compulsory able-bodied-ness and neurotypicality
The art of not doing: omitting, ignoring, stopping, resting in artworks (e.g. Ali Smith’s There but for the (2011) or Maryam Ashkanian’s Sleep Series)
The economics of post-capitalism
Unlawful stopping: unemployment, unproductivity and the law
Critical responses to concepts like ‘burnout’, ‘productivity’ and ‘self-care’
Pleasure activism: the potential of pleasure for sustainable change and recuperation (for example submissions that responds to the work of adrienne maree brown or Audre Lorde’s ‘The Uses of the Erotic’ (1978))
The language of sleep, dreams, and daydreams in contemporary politics
Archival studies: the importance of stillness with/in the archive
The philosophy and ethics of (not) doing
Not doing within capitalism: sustainable alternative modes of organizing
What turns us on: the science behind what loving what and how you do
Following Professor Stuart Hall’s theorisation of ‘The rest in the West’, considerations of indigenous knowledges that have and continue to inform “Western” scientific practices (eg. Henrietta Lacks / Robin Wall-Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass)
Gender, race, class, sexuality, ability and age in relation to wellness and work
Representations of burnout in poetry, zines, online magazines, theatre, film, documentary, visual art, installation, fiction and memoir
Time and the performance of (un)productivity in contemporary theatre
Responses to theories on conflicting temporalities in zones of oppression and/or occupation (such as responses/additions to Giordano Nanni’s The Colonisation of Time)
Academic labour activism and the genre of ‘quit lit’
Paper proposal abstracts should be 200-300 words in length.
Lightning Talks/Provocations (7-10 minutes) should be summarised in a paragraph of no more than 150 words.
Workshops or acts of care should be submitted with a full workshop proposal outline, and a paragraph detailing the ethics, safer-space and after-care intentions/expectations.
For proposals of artworks, film, or performance, please include up to 5 images as 72dpi jpeg. Links to film clips, websites or performances are encouraged (but please be sure to include access passwords if video links are private)
All submissions are due by midnight on June 3, 2019.
Please email your submission to: email@example.com titled ‘Art of Not Doing [enter medium, eg short film or paper] Submission’. Feel free to get in touch with us with any queries, questions or concerns Please also include any access needs/preferences.
As part of this one-day conference, we are inviting paper proposals/provocations and interdisciplinary submissions from Birkbeck graduate students, early career researchers and individuals from wider academic, creative and activist communities.
Alongside paper proposals, we welcome submissions of artworks, shorts films, and proposals for performances and acts of care.
We particularly encourage submissions from those operating within academia, activism and contemporary art whose voices are often marginalised by the mainstream canon.
By Public Transport:
Birkbeck is surrounded by Tube and mainline rail stations: we are close to Russell Square, Tottenham Court Road, King's Cross/St Pancras and Euston.
Many buses pass down nearby Gower Street or go via Russell Square.
To plan your journey to Birkbeck using public transport, see the Transport for London Journey Planner.
An extensive network of cycle routes lead to Birkbeck, and there are ample cycle rack facilities around the Malet Street building, including a number of lockable cycle bins.
If you are planning your journey by car, please bear in mind that the Congestion Charge applies, while central London parking facilities are both limited and often expensive.
There are no public parking facilities on campus, but there are NCP facilities nearby at Woburn Place and Bloomsbury Place, which you will have to pay for.