International Conference: How does vulnerability matter?

Event Date: November 30, 2017

International Conference: How does vulnerability matter?

30 November-1 December 2017, The House of Science and Letters, Helsinki, Finland

Vulnerability has been widely used as a descriptive concept in the study of fragile life situations, socially excluded people and minorities and, e.g. dependent human beings and animals. However, this articulation of the concept has been criticized for being human-centered. The concept can also have a normative character, which refers to biological life, especially climate change and non-human lives. In a normative sense and from a Foucauldian take on productivity, vulnerability in current neo-liberal societies can also be understood as a vehicle for individualization and identity politics. Vulnerability has also been used as an ontological concept, a necessary feature of the human condition. This is probably the oldest meaning of vulnerability which has been extensively discussed e.g. in religious and ethical settings. When studying current societies, vulnerability as an ontological concept is frequently modified to serve political ends.

This seminar examines the range of definitions that vulnerability is given today. Does vulnerability matter – how? With increasingly broad articulations of the term,  is it in the danger of losing its meaning? What kind of common denominators do the various articulations share? How can researchers of vulnerability communicate with one another?

In addition, we invite papers, which discuss materiality, affects and mediations between social relations and the politics of vulnerability. We invite participants from all relevant subjects, such as social sciences, humanities and the arts, philosophy and medicine. [more]