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Keynote Speakers in 2021/2022

Dr Elena Louisa Lange

University of Zurich

9th June 2022 - 12:00-13:30

The Counter-Enlightenment Scheme: Fear, Global Covid-19 Policy, and the New Authoritarian Character

This talk will focus on the civilizational rupture that the Covid-19 pandemic, and especially the political response to it, presents to global liberal democracies. I will show why and how the disenfranchisement of the bourgeois individual subject, through a 2-year long global health emergency campaign based on the deliberate stimulation of panic and fear, led to a collapse of political ideas that are tied to the question of human progress. I call this rupture the counter-enlightenment scheme put to the service of global elites in key functions of capital accumulation. This new notion of a reified humanity - presented in models, simulations, nodes, vectors, “fatality rates” and “cases” - also enabled a new wave of authoritarian characters in the humanities who theoretically aim at abolishing the idea of “society” altogether.

Dr Hourya Bentouhami

Université Toulouse-Jean-Jaurès / Institut Universitaire de France

10th June 2022 - 14:00-15:30 [online only]

Disobeying Borders

Speaking of global challenges means asking the question of what matters to and concerns us all, because global stakes by definition go beyond borders. However, the crossing of national, class, racial or gender borders is the subject of redoubled vigilance today. In this talk, I would like to question borders from the perspective of the bodies that are intimately constituted and crossed by them. What do the movement of bodies and their modes of appearance in the public space tell us about contemporary global challenges that are determined by our primary attachments, our entanglement with other living beings and our postcolonial condition? Adopting a critical phenomenological approach, I will focus on two examples that seem important to me to define a disobedience to borders understood as a visible one: the example of migrants illegally crossing European biotechnological borders, on the one hand, and the example of veiled Muslim women in Europe, on the other. Both examples will allow us to explore the status of the (real or supposed) foreigner at the heart of postcolonial societies.

Prof. Bernard E. Harcourt

Columbia University/EHESS

11th June 2022 - 15:00-16:30 [online only]

What Good Is Genealogy for Praxis?

“In any case, I hate everything that merely instructs me without augmenting or directly invigorating my activity.” It is with those words from Goethe, you will recall, that Nietzsche opened his untimely mediations on history. Perhaps, we should return there to ask some untimely questions about genealogy today.

Amy Allen, Colin Koopman, Daniele Lorenzini, and other critical philosophers have proposed various readings of Foucaultian genealogy—whether problematizing or possibilizing—as a unique method distinct from the debunking genealogical approach of Nietzsche, as well as from the vindication-of-values approach of Bernard Williams. Lorenzini associates his reading with the notions of counter-conduct and the critical attitude Foucault discussed in relation to Kant.

It may be time to strike again and ask the hard question whether any of these interpretations of genealogy are truly fruitful for critical praxis. In this talk, I propose that once again and together we philosophize with a hammer.