Thursday 10 and Friday 11 November, 2011

Biosecurity, Resilience and the Government of Life Itself (invitation only)


Convenor: Professor Nikolas Rose

Nikolas Rose is the James Martin White Professor of Sociology, Convenor of the Department of Sociology and Director of the BIOS Centre for the Study of Bioscience, Biomedicine, Biotechnology and Society at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has published widely across: the sociology of psychiatry; the social and political history of the human sciences; the genealogy of subjectivity; the history of empirical thought in sociology, and on the changing rationalities and techniques of political power. His extensive body of work has been translated into ten languages. He is co-editor of BioSocieties: an interdisciplinary journal for social studies of neuroscience, genomics and the life sciences.

Professor Rose will be visiting the Biopolitics of Science Research Network in November. In addition to this workshop, he will present a public lecture:
6pm November 15, Law School Foyer (cosponsored by Sydney Ideas).


The term ‘biosecurity’ designates a range of contemporary strategies for the governance of populations, and state interests in managing various forms of biopolitical threat that impinge on their jurisdictions, such as those driven by globalization, biotechnical innovation and climate change. Sudden pandemics, terrorist attacks, the consequences of environmental change and the unknown impacts of new technologies such as genetic modification of foods are among a raft of unpredictable and fast moving human catastrophes that have taken on new salience in the 21st century. While biosecurity involves sophisticated population risk-management and prevention, governments worldwide are now turning to resilience-based approaches, which emphasize civil preparedness and adaptive social systems. Such systems can, in theory, absorb critical events like pandemics and terrorist attack through robust civil response. The idea of resilience is hence shaping government rationalities and population strategies in new ways, with implications which are yet to be understood.

The workshop proposes to bring together some of the leading international figures and innovative younger scholars in Australia across fields such as health, social science, law and international relations in order to examine and assess these developments in biosecurity and resilience, their promise and their implications.

Workshop Program


Thursday 10th November

0915-0930. Welcome and opening remarks
Professor Catherine Waldby/Professor Pat O’Malley

0930-1100. Session 1. Keynote address
Professor Nikolas Rose. London School of Economics and Political Science
Securing Freedom Through Resilience
Chair and Commentator: Dr Charlotte Epstein

1100-1130. Morning tea

1130-1300. Session 2
Dr Gavin Smith. University of Sydney
‘The Resilient Turn and The Immortal Self: On the Consequences and Politics of Digital Circuitry.’
Dr Catherine Mills. University of Sydney
‘Foucault’s error: Biopolitics and Resilience.’
Chair: Dr Jeremy Walker, UTS

1300-1400. Lunch

1400-1530. Session 3
Dr. Niamh Stephenson. University of New South Wales
‘From security to resilience via “vulnerability”: Is this trajectory a diversion for the global governance of HIV?’
Dr Fleur Johns. University of Sydney
Marginal Notes: Death Post-Disaster in International Law
Chair: Professor Pat O’Malley

1530-1600. Afternoon Tea

1600-1645. Session 4
Dr. Christian Enemark. Australian National University
Drug-resistant tuberculosis: security dimensions of disease control
Chair: Dr Niamh Stephenson

1700-1800. Informal Drinks. ‘Taste’

1830. Workshop Dinner: Spicy Szechuan Restaurant, Glebe Point Road

Friday 11th November

0930-1100. Session 5. Keynote address
Dr Luis Lobo-Guerrero . Keele University
‘Resilience and the biovalue of life insurance'
Chair and commentator: Professor Catherine Waldby

1100-1130. Morning Tea

1130-1300. Session 6
Dr Jeremy Walker. University of technology, Sydney
Pre-emptive Speciation: the Directed Evolution of the Bioeconomy and the Paradox of Biosecurity
Dr Frank Smith. Griffith University
Topic: Realism and Transnational Outbreaks of Infectious Disease
Chair and Commentator: Dr Gavin Smith

1300-1400. Lunch and close of workshop