Repairing Infrastructures

In the 2018-19 ASCA Cities seminar series we examine the city through the lens of infrastructures. This seminar will take stock of the many failures and crises of infrastructure, gathering thinkers and ideas committed to reparative infrastructures that both anticipate and help sustain sociality. Putting infrastructure at the heart of our social and cultural analysis, as Deborah Cowen (2017) argues, “insists that we ask how power works, in its most mundane and practical ways,” in turn helping to refine concepts of resistance and justice.

Attending to the infrastructures that reproduce sociality, this seminar pursues recent insights in feminist thought and the Black intellectual tradition, among others, in order to reframe social reproduction and its gendered and racialized labours in the normalization of existing power relations. In Lauren Berlant’s account of the repair or replacement of broken infrastructure, for instance, “the extension of relations in a certain direction cannot be conflated with the repair of what wasn’t working” (2016). This means exerting caution before embracing ‘the commons’ as a political concept since it may too quickly gloss over how systematic divisions and exclusions permeate everyday life today. What, then, is the promise of infrastructure, both as normative condition and critical possibility not yet lived? What becomes of infrastructure as an analytic tool when it is approached from the social sciences and humanities?

This year’s seminar series will consider how to incorporate these questions into the cross-disciplinary frameworks of the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis: How can we analyse citizenship through a focus on alternative material and social infrastructures rather than corporations or nation states? How do infrastructures determine politics of life and death, especially as played out across uneven power networks in urban environments? Could alternative infrastructures help initiate an imaginary other than ongoing crisis or seemingly unending state of political, economic, and environmental emergency?

Dates for Semester 1:  Fri. 14 Sept. 2018, 3-5pm, Fri. 12 Oct. 2018 (3-5pm), Tues. 13 Nov. 2018, (3-5pm), Fri. 14 Dec. 2018 (3-5pm)

The seminar is open to all ASCA/NICA members and registered participants, including PhD and Research MA students from all Dutch universities. Selected Research MA students may participate in the seminar for university credit and have it count as a tutorial for their studies. Please contact the organizers for further details: Kasia Mika (k.m.mika@uva.nl), Jeff Diamanti (j.diamanti@uva.nl), Simone Kalkman (a.s.kalkman@uva.nl) or Carolyn Birdsall (c.j.birdsall@uva.nl).

www.cities.humanities.uva.nl

Cultural Studies Now

Dates and Time: Fridays t.b.a.
Place: see below
Instructor
: Murat Aydemir
Register: send an email to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl before October 15, 2018. Please be sure to specify your master program and university

Cultural Studies and Cultural Analysis are no longer the rebellious upstarts they used to be. They have become canonised and institutionalised fields at a time in which the (critical, hermeneutic, theoretical) Humanities are under attack. At the same time, the political promises of the field — e.g. the emancipatory claims associated with identity politics and popular culture — seem no longer quite warranted, or at least demand new forms of confrontation and engagement.

All this suggests it is now all the more urgent to ask ourselves anew how we want to inhabit or relate to the field. How do we wish to situate ourselves in, or perhaps vis-à-vis, Cultural Studies academically, institutionally, intellectually, and politically? In this course, we will revisit the main genealogies and methodologies of Cultural Studies in relation to current developments, exploring the following five areas of contestation: conjuncture, politics, reality, interdisciplinarity, culture. How did Cultural Studies start out? What can it now be?

With key readings by Stuart Hall, Mieke Bal, Paul Smith, Lawrence Grossberg, and many others.

Places: t.b.a.

 


This is a NICA core activity. Completing this activity earns you a certificate specifying the number of EC credits at stake. You can have this certificate formally registered at your institution’s administrative office. You may need to acquire the permission of your program coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this activity.


 

Decolonial Studies and Political Philosophy

Date: t.b.a
Instructor: Yolande Jansen
Register: send an email to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl before March 15 2019. Please be sure to specify your master program and university

In the humanities, globalization has until quite recently been studied from two rather distinct perspectives: either from a postcolonial or decolonial cultural-historical perspective, or from a normative, political theoretical perspective, often rooted in the liberal and human rights traditions. Over the last years, it has been increasingly recognized by scholars from both the cultural and political-theoretical fields that integrating these perspectives would be helpful to enhance the humanities’ critical and practical potential in today’s world. Criticism of the legacies of eurocentrism and colonialism in liberalism and the human rights traditions is then combined with cutting edge political philosophical work concentrating on questions of imperialism, freedom and global justice, f.e., increasingly, on resource and environmental justice.

This course looks at the intersection of decolonial studies and normative political philosophy, and tries to address them from a relatively integrated perspective. We bring together both fields in a systematic way by testing normative theories of global justice and human rights in political philosophy against the works of liberalism’s critics from a decolonial or critical theoretical perspective.

During the first three weeks, we will read a number of articles tracing the intricacies of colonialism and liberalism, both from an intellectual historical perspective, and from a systematic political theoretical perspective. After these readings we will concentrate on contemporary work on global justice. We will then compare the two traditions and discuss whether and in what ways they could be fruitfully combined for a decolonial philosophy of global justice, and discuss the the limitations of focusing on ‘justice’.

Teaching goals

  • Insight into political theory about global justice
  • Insight into critiques of the political philosophical liberal tradition from a decolonial perspective
  • Enhancing the capacity to formulate integrative perspectives on the merits of both traditions of criticism for formulating perspectives on global justice that are self-reflexive about the legacies of eurocentrism and imperialism

Content

During the first three weeks, we will read a number of articles tracing the intricacies of colonialism and liberalism, both from an intellectual historical perspective, and from a systematic political theoretical perspective. After these readings we will concentrate on contemporary work on global justice.

We will then compare the two traditions and discuss whether and in what ways they could be fruitfully combined for a decolonial philosophy of global justice, and discuss the limitations of focusing on ‘justice’. The course will take the form of intensive working groups.

Readings

  • James Tully. (2008) Public Philosophy in a New Key, Volume II; Imperialism and Civic Freedom. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Duncan Bell. (2016) Reordering the World; Essays on Liberalism and Empire. Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press
  • Aimé Césaire, Discourse on colonialism. Preferred edition: Monthly Review Press, NY, 1972, 2000
  • Charles Mills (2017) Black rights/white wrongs. The critique of racial liberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

These books will both be available through the library of the UvA (they will be on the ‘workshelf’). The books can be scanned or copied but not you cannot borrow them during the course. Other articles will be provided during the course, see below for the full list and where to find them.

Examination

For those who take credits from this course: Presentation (20%) and either (a) final paper or (b) final paper and take home exam (80%). You can choose between two options for the final exam: (a) either you choose to do a take home exam containing three questions which will be published two weeks before the deadline, together with a final paper of around 1500 words, or (b) you choose to write a final paper of around 4000 words. The deadline for both will be on 28 June at 23.59 hrs. The deadline for the resit is 8 August. The paper should be written according to basic academic standards (contain a bibliography, research question, careful argument, conclusion) but you are free to write in a mostly argumentative or a more essayistic or exploratory style.

Program

t.b.a.


This is a NICA core activity. Completing this activity earns you a certificate specifying the number of EC credits at stake. You can have this certificate formally registered at your institution’s administrative office. You may need to acquire the permission of your program coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this activity.


 

Queer Intersections

• taught in April-May 2019 (Semester 2, block 2)
• 5-6 meetings (final number to be determined)
In this course, we will explore a mix of seminal and very recent interventions in queer thinking. More specifically, we will study the intersections between queer theory and other fields, such as political theory, critical race theory, disability studies, and others. The aim is not to provide students with a comprehensive survey of queer intersectional interventions, but rather to give them a sense of how queerness and queer thinking are able to disrupt normative and oppressive assumptions in a variety of fields of study, including hopefully the students’ own research areas. (This said, we will also talk about how queerness can align itself with normativity.)
Possible readings are from Gloria Anzaldúa’s Borderlands/La Frontera, Roderick A. Ferguson’s Aberrations in Black, Jack Halberstam’s The Queer Art of Failure, Jasbir K. Puar’s Terrorist Asemblages, Paul Preciado’s Testo Junkie, José Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia, Dean Spade’s Normal Life, Melanie Yergeau’s Authoring Autism, and Telathia Nikki Young’s Black Queer Ethics. This list may change until the spring of 2019. My plan is to finalize the reading list with the enrolled students shortly before the beginning of the course.
The course will be grounded in slow and close reading with ample room for discussions and student interventions. (You can think of it as a reading group.) Students will be invited to select the readings for the last session of the course. At the end of the course, students will write a paper.

Soapbox: Practices of Listening

​Soapbox: Journal for Cultural Analysis​ 1.1 “Practices of Listening”

For the first issue of ​Soapbox​, a graduate journal for cultural analysis, we invite submissions that explore listening as a critical practice. With this topic, we aim to bring together accounts of listening as both a method and object of analysis, including everyday practices and new modes of research that articulate who or what can listen and who or what can be heard.

In an age characterised by overabundant information and a cacophony of voices, attention is increasingly a matter of selection inseparable from politics. Traditional structures that amplify dominant expressions are being contested by the rise of large-scale communication platforms, which complicates the distribution of heard voices. Listening critically, therefore, calls for an examination of the spaces – digital, urban, or discursive – in which the voices of minorities are either muted or amplified.

An attentiveness to the practices of listening also takes seriously the idea that epistemological agency is not limited to the human subject, but extends across biological, technical, and inorganic bodies. By listening to the polyphonic assemblage of humans and non-humans alike, this issue aims to politicise listening not only in the sense of interpersonal communication but also as a broader cultural logic that creates platforms for some and silences others.

We invite students, PhD candidates, and young researchers to submit proposals that discuss practices of listening directed towards, but not limited to, the following themes:

– Methodologies of cultural analysis: listening in/as analysis
– Listening as extending pedagogy beyond the privileged space of the classroom
– Zoopoetics and attentiveness to practices of listening of the non-human animal
– Listening to or with inorganic matter
– Listening and the primacy of language: signs and semiotics
– Contemporary protest voices
– Delistening to dominant voices in contemporary politics
– Listening as alternative to globalized, market-oriented educational discourse
– Prosthetic listening and listening technologies
– Decolonising practices of listening
– Listening and practices of care, able-bodiedness, and hearing loss
– Active or passive listening, listening as labour or consumption
– The body, synaesthesia, the sensory; audiovisual and tactile listening
– Listening to the dead: history, spectrality, occultism and hauntology

Contact: soapboxjournal@gmail.com

We also welcome submissions to our website, where a variety of styles and formats is encouraged. Please get in touch to pitch new ideas or existing projects for us to feature there.