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Gary Genosko: Interspecies assemblages, sobriety, and intoxication

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Time: 5.30pm
Venue: Room 1004, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE
Price: free
Speaker(s): Gary Genosko

Gary Genosko: Interspecies assemblages, sobriety, and intoxication

We look forward to welcoming Gary Genosko, Professor of Communication and Digital Media Studies, visiting from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. He will present a paper exploring ‘Interspecies Assemblages, Sobriety, and Intoxication'.

What Professor Genosko aims for is to answer the challenge of theorizing sobriety beyond both dryness and purity.

He explains: "This paper understands that alcohol, distilled and in its pure form of ethanol, as well as its imbibition, poses a philosophical question as a component that passes through anthropocentric, and across multiple non-anthropocentric assemblages. Many animals drink and appear drunk, but this is not a norm, even though it appears to satisfy some cultural needs."

The philosophical question will be of interest to readers of A Thousand Plateaus as the role that sobriety plays remains a contested concept. Alcohol's relations of exteriority include organic plant matter, water and fermentation, and traverses species in controlled scientific experiments and naturally ordinary fermentations. Recent studies concerning non-human species involve fruit flies that are capable of imbibing towards drunkenness, in research for inter-generational carriers of alcoholism; and wild birds are known to gorge on fermented berries before crashing to the ground in a stupor.

The componential relations of each of these examples are different and require critical sensitivity to causal explanations of relations favored by science, and the contingency and expressivity of the drunken birds. The exploitation of ethanol fermentation exists across species. Indeed, as we entertain more overtly human cultural examples, such as ‘wine' for cats, a recent Japanese pet trend, the metabolic communion of interspecies companionship requires that the material expressivity of the substance is overcoded because the ‘wine' is not only non-alcoholic but liquid catnip in a ‘wine' bottle. Hence, ‘wine' serves within a specific cultural assemblage to extend the overlap between human and feline domestic assemblages, but with a well-known plant oil and the inherited genetic dispositions of certain cats rather than to a fermented grape.

Theorization of the pursuit of shared pleasures - using Guattari's ethological terms, we might say deterritorializing from deterministic biological factors yet also modifying these in some measure as well - and engaging multiple species is this paper's goal, achievable by plotting the passages of alcohol and its related components across assemblages and their material and socio-cultural expressive trajectories beyond strictly anthropocentric and Western prerogatives.

For further information about this event:

Contact: Scott Wilson


Directions to Room 1004, John Galsworthy building, Penrhyn Road campus, Penrhyn Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EE: