Title: Rendering Surplus, Rendering Flesh: Capitalism, Animals, and Disability
The animal rendering industry and surplus populations are two features of capitalism that are both invisibilized as by-products, subject to logics of waste-management and recycling. Shukin’s (2009) genealogy of how animal life gets symbolically and carnally rendered capital, demonstrates the central role of animals in the reproduction of capitalist hegemony. Similarly, the paradox of surplus populations, another kind of bare life, is that they are redundant to capital while being absolutely essential to, and created by, it (Marx, 2000; Endnotes, 2010). 40 percent of the global workforce is currently rendered superfluous (Benanav, 2014). Most of this global surplus population is disabled (WHO, 2011; UN, 2015), showing capitalism to be a disabling power. Appreciating the centrality of rendering and surplus populations necessitates astute attention to the seemingly non-productive and/or non-labour-centric, but no less material, aspects of late capitalism that banks on rendering animal and human bodies as capital, perpetually cannibalizing its own waste, and turning all excess into surplus value. Utilizing insights from Critical Disability Studies and Critical Animal Studies, I offer an interdisciplinary consideration of surplus populations and animal rendering with the aim of better understanding the contradictions of the current phase of capitalism through pathologized and non-laboring bodies, both animal and disabled.
About the speaker:
After getting a BA in History of Art from Cornell University, Balam Kenter wrote their first MA thesis for UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures Department, Culture and Performance Program, which utilized the Foucaultian “care of the self” to reclaim so-called “eating disordered” and “obese” bodies as non-normative bodies and non-normative alimentary practices. After a non-academic period working as a theater manager and translator, Balam received a second MA from Bogazici University's Department of Philosophy where they wrote an award-winning thesis exploring the concepts of exploitation and oppression through the lenses of disability, Marx’s theory of surplus populations, and intersectional theory.
Balam is currently a PhD student at Concordia University’s Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture, Humanities PhD Program. Bridging Political Philosophy, Critical Disability Studies and Critical Animal Studies, Balam’s dissertation work focuses on the historical and material entanglements of ableism and anthropocentrism under late capitalism. The project features a novel combination of Foucaultian and Marxist analyses of power where capitalism emerges as a system that disables and animalizes certain bodies, human and non-human. The overall objective is to create a new paradigm of domination that envisions structural solutions without sacrificing singular flourishing needs.
When they are not studying in Montreal, Balam lives with two humans, three cats, and a dog in Istanbul.