This research and teaching program intends to examine the body as a political and cultural archive, critically distancing itself from approaches that consider the body a corpus, temple, nature, seat of sovereign power, sheath, place of residence, or property. In philosophical terms, it can be said that the modern body (healthy or sick, normal or pathological) does not have an ontological status but rather, a biopolitical and performative status.
It exists only within a set of discursive, epistemological, scientific, pharmacological, economic and visual practices, through the politics of immigration and of risk management, clinical trials, pharmacological techniques, diagnostic practices, mediated narratives, discursive structures, visual representations and discourses concerning prevention, control and surveillance. In other words, the medical, political and audiovisual discourses that represent the body produce the normality or pathology that they attempt to describe.
The modern subject has no body. It is a somatheque: a dense, somatic, stratified, organ-saturated apparatus managed by different biopolitical regimes that establish spaces for action that are organized according to class, race, gender or sexual difference. Somatic practices are “general formulas of domination” (Bordieu), “corporal techniques” (Mauss) that function as "mechanisms of subjectivation” (Foucault), and as “processes of incorporation of the norm” (
Departing from a critical genealogy of the modern body, the SOMATHEQUE project explores political and artistic practices of body production, normalization and critique that arise in the context of modernity, from the Enlightenment to the appearance of AIDS, including the mutations of liberalism that have occurred since World War II. In its second cycle, SOMATHEQUE will emphasize research on the specific forms of governability of the body and of subjectivity related to the neoliberal condition. Special attention will be paid to the pharmacopolitical management of HIV/AIDS, the creation of “disability industries,” eugenics, the criminalization of the production and use of psychoactive substances, the racialization of assisted reproduction or of the processes of dismantling and privatising public healthcare. In the face of these techniques of normalization, the feminist, anti-slavery, decolonisation, queer, transsexual, transgender, "functional diversity" and "crip" movements... can be re-read as movements of somatic rebellion, forming a part of an insurgent process by the bodies excluded from the Enlightenment's democratic contract. A general critique of the somatheque also allows for critical links to be established with architecture, history of technology, photography, computing, video games, or history of the city, etc., as spaces where somatic production takes place.
From within the sphere of art and culture, the idea is to denaturalise the somatheque, to intervene collectively and critically in the network of knowledge and representations that produce the body as an organism, to produce counter-narratives and counter-representations. In short, we seek to invent techniques for the desubjectivation of the somatheque.
Objective of the course
The aim of this program of study is to give participants access to the critical, historical and conceptual instruments that are useful in the analysis of the biopolitical production of the modern body. Special attention will be paid to the history of sexuality, the relationship between capitalism, sexualization and colonialism, the transformation of the techniques of gender production in the context of neoliberalism, as well as, and the emergence of theoretical and political practices that have arisen from the feminist, anticolonial, homosexual, queer, transsexual and crip movements.
This area of research is located in the crossroads between artistic practice and critique, political action and cultural critique. Our concern here is to build a counter-cartography of contemporary artistic, theoretical and political practices for the reappropriation of body and identity production technologies. In contrast with the traditional view of art history or the sociology of the non-normative body and of peripheral identities, SOMATHEQUE is building an archive out of dissident, minor, subaltern practices related to the knowledge and production of corporality.
As an archive of body production and critique, SOMATHEQUE is a teaching and research process taking place between the months of March and September of
The courses and workshops take place in March, April, May and June 2013 and consist of a total of 150 hours of coursework, including theoretical classes, monographic seminars, workshops and research. From June to October 2013, participants must prepare a report, which may take the form of a written text, an audiovisual archive, a web page, etc. Students must attend classes and workshops regularly and complete the report in order to obtain the certificate.
The study and research process includes theoretical seminars, public lectures, film forums, performative events, workshops on audiovisual reading and production, as well as, the making of blogs and the creation of texts and audiovisual archives.
Total hours of coursework: 150
50 class hours
50 hours of workshop
50 hours of research classes and course activities that are scheduled for Thursday and Friday afternoons/evenings and all of Saturday.
Students and admission
This course is intended for activists involved in urban movements, as well as, students, researchers, artists, etc. Knowledge of both Spanish and English is essential. Some of the readings will be in French. Classes may be given in either Spanish or English, depending on the teacher. Course attendance is required, as is designing and conducting a research project. The candidate selection process will give special consideration to the interest shown by the candidates in the program's different subjects, and their involvement in critical, artistic and cultural production practices.
Number of students: Minimum of 20 and maximum of 25 participants
Registration period: January 2-31, 2013 (registration is now closed)
Registration process: download and complete the following application (solicitud) (including a letter of intent) and send it to the following e-mail address: email@example.com (you will receive an email acknowledging receipt of the application).
The list of admitted applicants will be posted on the Museum's web page on February 15, 2013.
A good command of both Spanish and English is essential. Classes may be given in either language, depending on the professor.
A Study Centre program sponsored by Fundación Banco Santander.
Directed by: Beatriz Preciado
Teaching team: Beatriz Preciado, David Berná and Lucas Platero
Guests: Annie Sprinkle and Beth Stephens