Sunday, April 19, 2009

Manufacturing Happiness: Investigating Subjectivity, Transformation, and Cultural Capital


Manufacturing Happiness: Investigating Subjectivity, Transformation,
and Cultural Capital

The Graduate Students of George Mason University invite paper proposals
for our 4th Annual Cultural Studies Conference. The Conference will
take place on Saturday, September 19, 2009 at George Mason University
in Fairfax, Virginia.

This conference considers practices, institutions, and products that
promise happiness, in a sense of inducing “the good life,” typically
expressed as self-realization or finding one’s purpose—borrowing
Agamben’s term, subjective technologies that have a specific
relationship to social and political forces. How do practices designed
or claimed for such diverse purposes as personal stress management,
recovering from colonization, parenting, global conglomeration, and
corporate development work? What kinds of transformations do they
bring, in terms of personality, power, and communitas? And what becomes
of the living cultural traditions from which these practices are
abstracted, as in the care of the psychotherapeutic practice of
“western Buddhism,” which Zizek claims is the “hegemonic ideology par
excellance of late capitalism?” From the transmission of packaged
idealisms and practices with a putative relationship to traditional
sources to the commodified transactions for services and goods, the
conference organizers seeks papers that investigate the growing cultural
industries, both global and local, devoted to manufacturing happiness.

The wide-ranging contexts for our investigation include, but are not
limited to: the social positions within the family, home, workplace,
community, or nation-state; geographical and global considerations of
institutional development and affiliation; the political economy of
corporate training models; cultural capital and legitimation; media and
mediation (print, television, DVD, Internet, radio, etc.); religious
connections and origins; the confirmation and construction of
identities (gender, physical, class, spiritual, national, sexual, and
race) in social or political realms; and the rise and intensity of
ecological subjectivities.

• Integral Institute, Integral Naked, and Ken Wilber
• est Training
• Shambhala Training
• Eckhardt Tolle and Oprah’s Book Club
• Weight loss and Constructing Beauty
• The “Human Potential” Movement
• The Zen Alarm Clock
• The Secret
• Hollywood Kabballah Centre
• Transpersonal Psychology
• The “Self-Help” Industry
• Magazines such as What Is Enlightenment?

Please e-mail a 500-word abstract of your presentation along with a
short CV to Michael Lecker ( no later than June 15,

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