[artinfo] [Deadline 23 Dec] The Dromocratic Condition

J Armitage j.armitage at unn.ac.uk
Thu Sep 23 01:58:49 CEST 2004

The Dromocratic Condition:

Contemporary Cultures of Acceleration

An international, multi-disciplinary conference hosted by the School of
English, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 March, 2005

Keynote speakers:
Douglas Kellner (UCLA, USA)
John Armitage (Northumbria, UK)

Theories of contemporary culture have foregrounded the significance of
'late capitalism' or 'post-Fordism' (Jameson; Harvey); simulation and
'hyper-reality' (Baudrillard); information technology and the 'inhuman'
(Lyotard); the 'panopticon' (Foucault); 'communicative action'
(Habermas); 'desiring-production' and schizophrenia (Deleuze and 
Guattari); risk
(Ulrich Beck); and the cyborg (Haraway).

An alternative theorisation - which intersects with these perspectives,
but diverges from them - views acceleration as the defining feature of the
contemporary era. The French cultural theorist Paul Virilio has coined
the term 'dromocracy' (from the Greek dromos: avenue or race course) to
characterise this position. Under Virilio's 'dromocratic' reading of
history, scientific, technological, societal, military, and cultural
change is propelled by the pursuit of ever-increasing speed. Our own era - with
its fibre-optic cables, satellite-linked communications networks, supersonic
aircraft, and cruise missiles - is, Virilio suggests, approaching the
limits of acceleration, and teeters on the edge of the 'integral accident' -
the true end of modernity.

This conference invites papers that explore any aspect of what the
social theorist John Armitage - re-orientating Lyotard's famous assessment of
the contemporary - has called the 'dromocratic condition'. What are the key
characteristics of the contemporary culture of acceleration? How has the
pursuit of speed impacted upon contemporary subjectivity, upon strategies
of warfare and terrorism, or upon experiences of space and time? How have
theorists, activists, writers, artists, and filmmakers responded to the
speed-up of contemporary life? Is there necessarily a connection between
speed and destruction, or can high-speed technologies serve a progressive
or radical agenda? Is speed truly, as Virilio has claimed, 'the location
and the law, the world's destiny and its destination', or do movements exist
that offer viable alternatives to the contemporary culture of acceleration

The organisers envisage that a special issue of the journal Cultural
Politics http://www.bergpublishers.com/uk/culture/culture_about.htm
will result from the papers at the conference.

Please send proposals (250-300 words) for 20-minute papers to Paul
Crosthwaite at p.j.crosthwaite at ncl.ac.uk or School of English
Literature, Language, and Linguistics, Percy Building, University of 
Newcastle upon
Tyne, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, United Kingdom by 23 December 2004.
Updates and accommodation information will appear on the conference web
site: http://www.dromocratic.visitnewcastlegateshead.com

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