In her timely novel Tender is the Flesh, the prizewinning Argentinian author Augustina Bazterrica tells the grim tale of Marcos who runs a factory that slaughters humans for their meat after a global pandemic has wiped out animals. If the horrific reality of factory farming is the overt message of the novel, then there is also another way to read the book: That we would sooner eat our own than we would change what we do. The parallels to what we face in 2020 and beyond are unmistakable: We would rather sacrifice humans, dehumanize them, and let them be consumed than change how we govern and do business. We’re more likely to save the global economy than protect humans from being chewed up by what we’ve set in motion.
Historically, ritual practices of “cannibalism” played a key role in colonial anthropologists’ efforts to distinguish the “savage other” from Western civilization. While this dividing line has been problematized in countless ways, and the very attribution of cannibalism has been critiqued as a tool of Empire, the irony is that cannibalism may actually be endemic to the Western political imaginary today. For this reason, cannibalism, whether literal or metaphorical, is a recurring theme in literature, film, and culture more broadly. For instance, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road examines cannibalism in the context of post-apocalyptic struggle for survival, and problematizes any simple opposition between what is and is not “civilized”; and in The Edible Woman, Margret Atwood examines how females become “raw materials” for male consumption. In bell hooks’ “Eating the Other,” she examines the ways in which desire for contact with the primitivized “other” signals the structures of white supremacy. In popular visual culture, Grace Jones’ “Corporate Cannibal” frames cannibalism as a fundamental to the corporate ethos (“You’re my life support, your life is my sport; I am a man-eating machine”), a characterization that perfectly contextualizes an actual technique used in corporate culture: Corporate Cannibalization. The technique itself is ambiguous, since it can spell disaster for an emerging company or it can be used as tool to protect against competitors (a technique frequently used by Amazon, Apple, and others). In the end, what if cannibalism, that practice that seemed like the “other side” of Western civilization, is actually deeply woven into the fabric of its very production?
The Center for Philosophical Technologies invites applications from faculty and graduate students for the 2021 calendar year to examine Cannibalizing as a technique used in culture broadly conceived. We are especially interested in perspectives on cannibalizing that interrogate blind consumption, that challenge the pervasive dehumanization in today’s geopolitical climate, and that work against the imperative to devour our own to get ahead. Applicants are encouraged to explore the devastating of effects of cannibalizing on political culture, race relations, the environment, human-animal relations, and more. We are also interested critical frames that discover escape hatches, that speculate about other ways of organizing cultural production, and that challenge the nihilistic impulses in the present. Finally, we encourage more affirmative perspectives on cannibalizing, or at least ones that engage sites of counter conduct where the dynamics and techniques of cannibalizing might yet be inverted in some way. The CPT welcomes applications from all disciplinary and inter/transdisciplinary perspectives, and seeks to appoint Fellows that bring a fresh and creative take on the problem of Cannibalizing. To this end, theorists and practitioners, planners and activists, dreamers and pessimists are all encouraged to apply.
2021 Fellows will join an active community of theorists and practitioners and will have full access to CPT resource (including, facilities, graphic design, promotional material, and more). They will be expected to attend monthly meetings and give a public presentation about their research.
TO APPLY: Please send a detailed CV, and a 2-page cover letter outlining your background, interest in Fellowship, and research plans.
DEADLINE EXTENDED: January 4th, 2021 at 5pm (MST)
AWARD: Graduate Students: $1,500; Faculty: $3,000