Skip to main content
School of Politics and International Relations

Workshop: Ontology of Sense and Difference: Deleuze’s philosophy as method for political analysis

11 November 2015 - 12 November 2015

Time: 10:00am - 5:00pm
Venue: Mile End Campus, Arts Two, Room 316

The importance and influence of Deleuze’s philosophical work reaches different areas of knowledge ranging from geography to music, from linguistics to logic and many others. This influence can be linked not only to the strength and cohesion of his theories, but also because there is an excessive energy that emanates from his concepts. This energy is the result of a creative work of experimentation that Deleuze proposed to himself: the task of thinking at the edge of thought. Deleuze recognises that philosophy is primarily a creation of concepts and a political experimentation.

Due to the great variety of creative concepts and the social dimensions where they can be applied, there has been, in the last decades, a renewed interest in Deleuze’s oeuvre to understand the dynamics of capitalism, State, power relations and new social movements. Such interest and influence can be seen in several academic works of William E. Connelly, Paul Patton, Manuel DeLanda, James William, Nathan Widder, or in the work of autonomist thinkers of the like of Hardt and Negri, Lazzarato, Cocco and Franco Berardi. The influence of Deleuze’s work can also be seen in political protests, interventions and new social movements that have been erupting across the globe such as the Indignados, Syntagma Square and Occupy movement.

Deleuze’s oeuvre is a very dense, broad and complex system of thought, but one that is also very innovative and powerful to the analysis of our contemporary age, the structures of power relations inherent to financial capitalism, the massive diffusion of digital technologies of information and communication, the State’s apparatuses of capture, the technologies of power-knowledge and the strategies of control and surveillance. This is why it becomes extremely relevant to comprehend how his systematic thought can be applied to the understanding of contemporary politics, capitalism and society. In this sense, the aim of the workshop is first to discuss some of the principal elements in Deleuze’s theory, consistently covering his ontology of Sense and Difference, and, secondly, to examine such theoretical oeuvre as a practical method for political analysis. The course consists of a two-day workshop for PhD students, early career researchers, and academics interested in developing a deeper understanding on Deleuze’s theory, both in his solo production and with Guattari.

Each day of the course will be composed of two sessions lasting two and a half hours and will be led by an expert in Deleuze’s philosophy and politics. On the first day, the sessions will be led by Professor Nathan Widder (Royal Holloway), author of Political Theory after Deleuze, and, on the second day by Professor Paul Patton (University of New South Wales), who translated Deleuze’s book Difference and Repetition into English and wrote the books Deleuze and the Political and Deleuzian Concepts: Philosophy, Colonization, Politics. The sessions will be organized around texts by Deleuze, both alone and with Guattari, but also around secondary literature that focuses on the usage of such a theory for political analysis. Participants will be sent a reading list in advance of the course and will be asked to do a number of set readings.

At the end of the course, the participants will have knowledge of the philosophical assumptions behind Deleuze’s approach, its implications for questions surrounding the usage of methods in the social sciences and humanities, and the use of such approach for concrete political analysis.

11.11.2015 – Led by Nathan Widder, Professor of Political Theory at Royal Holloway University, London

First session (9:30 – 12:30): Difference in itself and power relations: of the rise of the agonistic field
The first session will briefly examine the recent turn in political theory to ontological approaches. Then, it will focus on Deleuze’s ontology, paying a close heed to the notion of difference in itself, but also to the relation of force and power amongst these differences in a field of intensity, and how Deleuze’s notion of power relation can be understood in the political analysis, both in its micro relations at the fringes of society (inside schools, factories, academia, hospitals, etc.) and also at the other pole, the macro relations composed of institutional articulations and political decisions. This approach will frame the debate at the following sections of the second day.
Set reading: to be announced

Lunch (12:30 – 13:30) – Free Lunch provided

Second Session (13:30 – 17:00): The time of the Event: between Virtual and Actual
The second session will look at the two readings of time in Deleuze (Chronos and Aion) and the synthesis of its constitution in relation to Being, difference, repetition, and Event. Furthermore, in this session it will also be debated how virtual events and multiplicities are actualised in bodies and state of affairs.
Set reading: to be announced

12.11.2015 – Led by Paul Patton, Professor of Philosophy in the School of History and Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Third Session (9:30 – 12:30): Deleuze’s theory of assemblages: between the molar and molecular
The third session will address Deleuze’s and Guattari’s theory of assemblage developed along the books Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus - it will also work on understanding of the relation between molar and molecular assemblages and how this can be applied as method for political analysis.
Set reading: to be announced

Lunch (12:30 – 13:30) – Free Lunch provided

Fourth session (13:30 – 17:00): The Urstaat, contemporary Capitalism and affective politics
The last session will be dedicated to think the contemporary world based on Deleuze and Guattari understating of State and capitalism. This session will also look at how Deleuze’s oeuvre can be used as method for analysis.  
Set reading: to be announced

Room 3.16, Arts Two Building, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Campus
Registration is mandatory due to the few places available. Book a place here

Back to top