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Cornell-Syracuse 2016 Symposium -- Gujarat / Guatemala: Marketing Care and Speculating Life


Karen Rotabi, "From Intercountry Adoption in Guatemala to Commercial Global Surrogacy in Gujarat: Lessons Learned from Research and Human Rights"

Karen Smith Rotabi, PhD, MSW, MPH, is an Associate Professor of social work at the United Arab Emirates University. Dr. Rotabi is a recognized international child protection expert and she has worked in child welfare in a number of countries to include the USA, UK, Belize, India, Malawi, and Guatemala. She has a broad research agenda in an emphasis on intercountry adoption, including practical implementation of the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption to protect vulnerable children and their families. Recent shifts to commercial global surrogacy, particularly contracts with Indian women who act as surrogate mothers, has also been an area of inquiry for Dr. Rotabi and colleagues. She is currently involved with policy advocacy to address the human rights concerns and need to regulate commercial global surrogacy. Dr. Rotabi co-edited Intercountry Adoption: Policies, Practices, and Outcomes (Ashgate Press, 2012) and she is co-authoring a forthcoming book on intercountry adoption and global surrogacy, entitled From intercountry adoption to global surrogacy: A human rights history and new fertility frontiers.


Sherryl Vint, "Post-Vital: Speculative Fictions of Life and Death"

Sherryl Vint is Professor and Director of the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Program at the University of California, Riverside. She is an editor of the journals Science Fiction Studies and Science Fiction Film and Television, and has published widely on science fiction. Her current research project The Promissory Imagination: Speculative Futures and Biopolitics, reads science fiction in the context of biopolitical theory. Expanding upon earlier work that argues science fiction functions as a supplementary discourse to the discourses of science, this book will explore the exchanges between speculative imagination and material practice in personalized medicine, agribusiness and other genomic research. Within a context in which biotechnology itself relies on speculative discourses, and one in which the economy is largely propelled by such fantasies, critical discourses of science fiction have a crucial role to play in ongoing struggles over how to imagine the future. Her most recent publications are a special journal issue, The Futures Industry, and the edited collection Science Fiction and Cultural Theory: A Reader.

Kalindi Vora, "Contracting Care: Indian Commercial Surrogacy as Life Support"

Kalindi Vora is Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Life Support: Biocapital and the New History of Outsourcing (University of Minnesota Press, 2015), which identifies structures of race and gender in the global economy through the relationship between India and the United States represented in emerging labor markets enabled by technology, including call centers, information technology, and gestational surrogacy in India.  She is currently working on a co-authored manuscript with Neda Atanasoski, entitled Surrogate Humanity: Post Cold War Technologies of Labor, Intimacy and War. This project addresses the coloniality of race as it is expressed and also contested in robotics and artificial intelligence design. Her work has been published in journals including Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, TechnoscienceSomatechnicsSubjectivityPostmodern CultureScholar & FeministSouth Atlantic Quarterly, Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, and Cultural Anthropology.

Gladys Tzul, "Reproducción de la vida, estrategias de trabajo de cuido y agresión capitalista en Guatemala" ("Reproduction of Life: Strategies of Care and Capitalist Aggression in Guatemala")

This presentation will be delivered in Spanish with English translation. Gladys Tzul Tzul holds a PhD in sociology from Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP) en México and a Masters in Social and Political Studies from Alberto Hurtado, in Chile. She is a visual artist belonging to a collective of indigenous photographers, “Con Voz Propia”. Tzul Tzul is one of the few Latin American intellectuals who has specialized in the study of indigenous forms of government and communal democracy.  As a member of the Guatemalan Community of Maya Studies she has proposed rewriting the history of indigenous populations from the perspective of a decolonizing epistemology. As a public intellectual, she has been a forceful voice in reflecting on and denouncing the genocide in Guatemala during the presidency of Efraín Ríos Montt (1982-1983).

Kaushik Sunder Rajan, "Speculations on the Constitution of the Experimental Subject"

How does one write about the experimental subject of clinical research?  I wrestle with this question in a contemporary political moment when the “unethical clinical trial” has become a scandal and a locus of political mobilization in India. Who, or what, is being mobilized in this context? In whose name? What politics of representation, mediation and subjectivity does this entail, and how does it articulate with or resist the global capitalist appropriation of bioavailable bodies in the cause of surplus value generation? How might philosophical and anthropological notions of subjectivity come to be at stake in these moments?  I do not have answers to any of these questions. Rather, what I wish to work through are modalities of subject-constitution that operate in relation to clinical trials in India. These include, in addition to the constitution of the always already bioavailable subject, the liberal rational subject of biomedical ethics; the vulnerable exploited subject that is the concern of media activism and advocacy; and the historically dispossessed subject of global industrial capitalisms. Where does the typically anthropological project of capturing the lived experience of subjectivity reside in relation to these various subject-constitutions?


Friday, May 6

1:30: Opening by the organizers, Anindita Banerjee and Debra Castillo

1:45 Karen Rotabi, “From Intercountry Adoption in Guatemala to Commercial

Global Surrogacy in Gujarat: Lessons Learned from Research and Human Rights”

Respondent: Sital Kalantry (Cornell, Law)

3:15-3:30: Break

3:30 Kaushik Sunder Rajan, “Speculations on the Constitution of the Experimental Subject”

Respondents: Cecilia van Hollen (Syracuse, Anthropology) and Suman Seth (Cornell, Science and Technology Studies)

5:00-6:00: Reception, A. D. White House

8:00: An Evening of Indian Classical Music and Dance

Sanhita Nandi, Hindustani Vocal and Durga Bor, Odissi Dance, Barnes Hall

(call for accessibility 607-255-8493 in advance).


Saturday, May 7

9:30: Breakfast

10:00 Kalindi Vora, “Contracting Care: Indian Commercial Surrogacy as Life Support”

Respondents: Himika Bhattacharya (Syracuse, South Asian Studies) and Kavita

Panjabi (Jadavpur University, Kolkata, Comparative Literature)

11:30-1:00: Lunch

1:00 Gladys Tzul Tzul, "Reproducción de la vida, estrategias de trabajo de

cuido y agresión capitalista en Guatemala" ("Reproduction of Life: Strategies of Care

and Capitalist Aggression in Guatemala")

Respondents: Pedro DiPietro (Syracuse, Women and Gender Studies) and Emily Vazquez Enriquez (Cornell, Romance Studies)

2:30-2:45: Break

2:45  Sherryl Vint, “Post-Vital: Speculative Fictions of Life and Death”

Respondent: Chris Garces (Cornell, Anthropology)