CALL FOR REGISTRATON – Alterity, Intersubjectivity, and Ethics

SocanthAlterity, Intersubjectivity, Ethics: A multi-disciplinary workshop exploring theoretical directions for the study of ethics and morality

Monday 30th September 2013, 9am – 5pm
Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, University of Cambridge
8 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX
Website and registration:


The ‘ethical turn’ across the arts and humanities has taken its place in social and cultural anthropology primarily as a way to address long-standing questions of human agency within cultural and political systems. Anthropologists have been developing their own take on questions of ethics and morality in ways drawing largely from neo-Aristotelian and Foucauldian theorisations.

Theories of subjectivity, gendered or sexual difference, affect, and the ‘post-human’ have become prominent in investigations that question the bounds of the self/subject, and the ways in which we can conceptualise it as socially or politically emplaced. Building on this emerging literature, but cautious of some of its ontological assumptions, the premise behind this workshop questions the prioritisation of certain notions of the ‘self’ over inquiries into the nature of the ethical ‘subject’.

This workshop seeks to ask what such theories, and different disciplines’ elaborations and critiques of them, can usefully lend current conceptualisations of ethics and morality.

The keynote lecture entitled ‘Attunement, Fidelity, Dwelling: A Critique of Metaphysical Humanism’ will be delivered by Associate Professor Jarrett Zigon of the University of Amsterdam.

Workshop format

The aim of the workshop is primarily to exchange ideas across disciplines and with different theoretical and ethnographic references. The day is structured so as to promote as much discussion as possible, rather than presenting polished research results. The workshop will be divided into four thematic sessions addressing the themes of:

  • Feminism and the question of the other
  • Ethics, violence and politics
  • Post-humanism and animal/human relations
  • Affect and the ethics of noise

Each of the four sessions will be structured around a research paper, to be pre-circulated to all workshop participants, which will form the starting point for the discussion.

Workshop preparation

After registering participants will receive drafts of the research papers in advance for each of the four sessions and are strongly encouraged to read these prior to attending the workshop. The workshop welcomes participants across academic disciplines keen to engage in lively discussions and raise questions and ideas during the day.

Questions to be discussed during the workshop

  • What analysis of attachments and detachments across sameness and difference do concepts such as affect enable or disable?
  • What are the challenges to more recent feminist theories that attempt to show how ethics is suggested and solicited by an ontology of interdependency between people?
  • How do lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex subjectivities complicate ethical and political responses to deeply ingrained normative practices?
  • In light of the central place of ‘the Other’ in anthropological concerns, how can feminist and other theories of alterity inflect anthropological theories of ethics?
  • How do questions of politics enter into, impact upon, or undermine our theorisations of the ethical?
  • Can claims of relationality and acknowledgment of difference be shown to be fundamentally non-violent? How do we continue to address violence within ethics?
  • How can psychoanalytic theories addressing subject/object, or self/other, relations, help us to theorise the space in which ethical subjectivity is formed?
  • Do contemporary theories of affect push us beyond concepts of ‘relationality’ or ‘intersubjectivity’ in theorisations of ethics?
  • Can Levinasian theories of ethics as the pre-subjective relation to the Other inform ethnographic inquiries into ethical relationality?
  • What other approaches from philosophy or other disciplines can inform the study of ethics and morality?
  • Do these theoretical approaches invite us to question the idea of intersubjectivity as the place of ethical relationality?

To learn more and to register please visit

Supported by the Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.

Conference organisers: