Luce Irigaray: How to Give Birth to a New Human Being? Two days with Luce Irigaray and PhD researchers working on her thought, ICA, London, 17-18 August 2017



The problems and situations to which we face today call for more than mere reforms inside the same cultural horizon. It is the foundation of culture which has to be changed. And what is at stake is the urgency of a rebirth of the human being itself. We must thus return to the origin of our cultural tradition and wonder about its lacks in order to start to become again, in order to be able to correspond with what is henceforth required from us.

In these two days at the ICA we will question and inquire about the privilege of sight over touch and the necessity of a cultivation of touch for our human development, beginning with that of children and adolescents. We will also make proposals concerning a politics which no longer focuses on having: money, goods, properties enz. – but takes into consideration our being, that is, cares about our life, our desire and the difference(s) between us.


DAY 1 (17 August): A Culture Favouring Touch

11:00–12:30: Workshop animated by Jennifer Carter (Stony Brook University, USA) and Elspeth Mitchel (University of Leeds, UK): Developing a culture of touch in bringing up the little children and educating the girls

12:30–14:00: Lunch

14:00–15:30: Workshop animated by Elspeth Mitchel (University of Leeds, UK) and Judith Rifeser (University of Roehampton, UK): Look but don’t touch? Exploring haptic visuality and touch in works of art by the light of the philosophy of Luce Irigaray

15:30–16:00: Coffee break

16:00–18:00: Round table about Touch, self affection, hetero affection and qualities of life and culture favouring touch. Harry Bregazzi, Jennifer Carter, Elspeth Mitchel, Judith Rifeser and Andrea Wheeler read a fragment of the work of Luce Irigaray on touch and question her about its meaning towards the emergence of a new human being.

18:00–19:30: Dinner

DAY 2 (18 August): Toward a political culture respectful of life, desire and difference

11:00–12:30: Workshop animated by Andrea Wheeler (Iowa State University, USA) and (perhaps) Luce Irigaray How to imagine an environment suitable for the development of a new human being?

12:30–14:00: Lunch

14:00–16:00: Workshop animated by Luce Irigaray (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris): Who am I? Who are you? Past and present investigations on the way of speaking and drawing, notably but not only of boys and girls

16:00–16:30: Coffee break

16:30–18:30: Workshop animated by Harry Bregazzi (University of Bristol) and Ciara Merrick (University of Bristol): Community, difference and new politics of peace

18:30–20:00: Dinner

20:00–22:00: A talk by Luce Irigaray: How to give birth to a new human being. Harry Bregazzi will introduce the talk and the discussion

For further information and eventual registration look at this link

About the participants:

Harry Bregazzi is a PhD student in Human Geography at the University of Bristol. His research is focused on peace as a geographical concept, and how peaceful relations are constituted through different socio-spatial contexts.

Jennifer Carter is a Doctoral Candidate in Philosophy at Stony Brook University, New York. Her work is in 20th and 21st century French and German philosophy, especially Luce Irigaray, phenomenology, and the philosophy of touch. She is interested in the ways carnal subjects develop and relate to one another. Her dissertation is titled Luce Irigaray and the Fecundity of the Caress.

Luce Irigaray has sustained her PhD, Speculum, on the place of woman in history of philosophy. Afterwards she worked on the elaboration of a subjectivity in the feminine and means to relate in difference, beginning with the most elemental and universal difference, this between the sexes. She has written more than 30 books translated into various languages, the last being To Be Born. She has held a seminar for PhD researchers working on her thought for the last 14 years. Two of her books of particular relevance for this seminar are Luce Irigaray: Teaching  (edited with Mary Green) and Building a New World (edited with Michael Marder).

Ciara Merrick is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at the University of Bristol. Her research is focused on spaces of encounter in post-conflict Northern Ireland. Interested in engaging with difference and the body, she is exploring how such spaces are animating an embodied peace that transcends traditional identity politics and their territorial manifestation.

Elspeth Mitchell is a PhD researcher at the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds, exploring the figure of ‘the girl’ in moving image and feminist philosophy. She is associate editor of the critical theory and philosophy journal parallax and recently co-convened the second Feminist Readings symposium in 2016. She is also co-director of SPUR, a contemporary arts collective based in the North of England.

Judith Rifeser is a doctoral candidate, audiovisual practitioner and visiting lecturer at the University of Roehampton. Her research investigates the notion of touch and feminine subjectivity in the films of women directors of the 2000s. The point of departure for her study is the philosophical work of Luce Irigaray. By combining practice-as-research with writing, Judith’s work foregrounds the textual, political, ethical and poetical significance of the intertwining between theory and practice.

Andrea Wheeler is a Professor of Architecture at Iowa State University where she is a studio instructor, and teaches classes on sustainable architecture. Since completing her doctorate in 2005 she has been working on issues of sexuate difference and sustainability in the built environment. She has presented papers at conferences organised by Irigaray including most recently the Genesis of a New Human Being at the University of Bristol in June.