GC Hosts 4/5 Gathering To Investigate ‘Vulnerable Forms of Life’

On Tuesday, April 5, the Graduate Center is hosting the first gathering of an international and interdisciplinary collaborative project that is dedicated to investigating “forms of life,” or Lebensformen.


The concept of forms of life has become essential in contemporary research in a variety of disciplines. The project aims to organize, even systematize, those disparate conversations about the biological and the social, especially as they relate to questions of resistance and adaptation to vulnerabilities.

“Dynamic & Vulnerable Forms of Life” is supported by a 75,000 EUR ($83,000) fellowship from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France.

Within the collaboration, the GC is represented by Professor Alyson Cole, the Executive Officer of the Political Science program, along with ProfessorLinda Alcoff (Philosophy) and Distinguished Professor Michelle Fine(Psychology).

“This is an incredible opportunity to work with prominent scholars from France, Japan, Germany and Italy in a sustained conversation over a four-year period,” Professor Cole said. “While many of us espouse interdisciplinarity within the humanities and social sciences, this network goes further by bringing together philosophers and social scientists, to collaborate with scientists from the natural and data sciences.”

The network includes scholars who study language as a “life form” and others who analyze the dynamics of “biopolitics,” researchers who focus on the daily or “ordinary” life of individuals, collaborating with “data scientists” who examine patterns that constitute new “forms” that do not fit conventional social categories, as well as genomic and epigenomic scientists investigating the social and political implications of patterns of “biodata.”

Part of the gathering will be open to the public: Professor Veena Das of Johns Hopkins University will present a lecture, “The Boundaries of ‘We’: Cruelty, Responsibility, and Forms of Life,” at 3:00 pm in Room 9205.