Radical Interdisciplinarity

Radical Interdisciplinarity

NICA core course
5 EC | offered by Maaike Bleeker and Iris van der Tuin

To register, please send a motivation (1/2 page) why you would like to participate to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl. If we have too many applications, we will need to select. Be sure to specify your research master program and university. Please be aware that we expect participants to be present at all sessions, do a short presentation and write a paper.

Radical Interdisciplinarity

“A characteristic of thinking that becomes theory is that it offers striking ‘moves’ that people can use in thinking about other topics,” observes Jonathan Culler. He makes this observation in a text about a new type of theoretical writings emerging since roughly the 1960s, writings that succeeded in challenging and reorienting thinking in fields other than those to which they originally belonged. The transpositional capacity of these writings to offer striking ‘moves’ to people working in differing fields of research greatly contributed to the development of new interdisciplinary approaches in the humanities, the outlining of new objects of research, and the formation of new fields of study, like cultural studies, gender studies, visual studies, postcolonial studies. These developments have profoundly changed ways of doing research in the humanities. Reflecting about their potential as well as their theoretical and methodological implications has been at the heart of PhD training offered by ASCA and NICA from the very beginning.

In this course we look at currently emerging interdisciplinary approaches that move beyond the borders of the humanities and investigate how they may challenge and reorient our thinking. How do certain ‘moves’ offered by state-of-the-art scientific approaches lead to radically interdisciplinary endeavors, change our understanding of the object of our research, the relationships between objects and concepts, and what it is that we do when we do theory?

We will start from a discussion of performance and performativity as onto-epistemological condition (Barad) and stratum of power/knowledge (McKenzie). From there we will look at how insights from (among others) quantum physics, enactive and nonconscious cognition, as well as ways of knowing embodied in skilled bodily practice, can be mobilized for new ways of knowing, and new ways of understanding what it means to theorize.

Dates:
  • Thursday 28 November 10-13h
  • Thursday 12 December 10-13h
  • Thursday 9 January 10-13h
  • Thursday 23 January 10-13h
  • Thursday 6 February 10-13h

Maaike Bleeker is a professor in the department of Media & Culture Studies at Utrecht University. Her work engages with questions of perception, cognition and agency from an interdisciplinary perspective, with a special interest in embodiment, movement, and technology, and the performativity of meaning making and knowledge transmission. Her monograph Visuality in the Theatre was published by Palgrave. Recent publications include the co-edited volumes Performance and Phenomenology: Traditions and Transformations (Routledge, 2015), Thinking Through theatre and Performance (Bloomsbury 2019), and the edited volume Transmission in Motion. The Technologizing of Dance (Routledge, 2016).

Iris van der Tuin is professor in Theory of Cultural Inquiry and director of the School of Liberal Arts at Utrecht University (The Netherlands). She co-authored New Materialism: Interviews & Cartographies (Open Humanities Press, 2012) with Rick Dolphijn, wrote Generational Feminism: New Materialist Introduction to a Generative Approach (Lexington Books, 2015), and edited Nature for Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender (Macmillan Reference USA, 2016). Iris was chair of the COST Action New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on ‘How Matter comes to Matter’ (2014-18).

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.

Sustainability: Technocracy and Meditation

ASCA Political Ecologies Workshop & Environmental Humanities Center, CLUE+, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

present:

Public Talk (University of Amsterdam, P.C. Hoofthuis 1.05, 5-7pm) and
Masterclass on September 20th, 2019: Allan Stoekl (Penn State University) Please note that we are in the VUMedical Faculty, room D-565 (building MF) at the Vrije University 

In my talk, I will discuss two approaches to thinking about “sustainability.” The first is “technocratic sustainability.” I’ll discuss the “Technocracy Inc.” movement of the United States of the 1930s which imagined a utopian resolution to the economy by replacing labour with energy in the calculation of value. One of Technocracy’s primary thinkers, M. King Hubbert, would go on to forecast “peak oil” which figures so prominently in the discourse of sustainability.

Then I consider the ontological and political difference between consuming and spending. Following Georges Bataille, I will argue that we have an innate tendency to expend, but one more in consonance with the “economy of the universe”; one which recognizes the “limits to growth” not through austerity but through the inevitable burn-off of surpluses. Spending in this sense is tied not to just consuming stuff, but to consuming the very limits of our selves—the very limits we protect and affirm in capitalist consumption.

Hence the importance of E. F. Schumacher’s “Buddhist economics,” which at first sight may seem a mere bit of New Age faddism. In fact the crucial link (not explored by Schumacher) is between economics, both human, planetary, and of the universe, and the most basic “tendency to expend” that characterizes not only living systems, but the signifying systems of human communities. These communities necessarily turn around religious practices, and most importantly, meditative ones. 

By linking a no-growth “Buddhist economics” to Bataille’s theories of expenditure, we can start to imagine a theory of sustainability that will avoid the pitfalls of the technocratic approach.

Bio: Allan Stoekl is emeritus professor of French and Comparative Literature at Penn State University, and is currently Visiting Scholar in the Architecture Dept. at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written widely on twentieth century French intellectual history, and, more recently, on questions of energy use and expenditure in a cultural context (Bataille’s Peak: Energy, Religion, and Postsustainability [2007]). He is currently at work on a book on what he deems to be three varieties of sustainability, which may or may not be compatible.

Readings for Masterclass from 10-12 at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, OZW-building, room 7A-07:

  1. Technocracy Study Guide (1940)
  2. Robert Costanza, “Visions, Values, Valuation, and the Need for an Ecological Economics: All scientific analysis is based on a ‘preanalytic vision,’ and the major source of uncertainty about current environmental policies results from differences in visions and world views.” (2001)
  3. Georges Bataille, The Accursed Share, Vol. 1 (1949)
  4. ——- Inner Experience (1943)
  5. E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. (1973)

All reading can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/e63qez5tsdv3o9f/AAALlPfsbQ77jGIem86ejp6-a?dl=0

Please register for the Masterclass using the form on website of the Environmental Humanities Center

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For more information email

Jeff Diamanti (UvA): j.diamanti@uva.nl

Joost de Bloois (UvA): J.G.C.deBloois@uva.nl

Kristine Steenbergh (EHC, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam): k.steenbergh@vu.nl

 

Aesthetics and Politics in Critical Theory

Reading Group organized by Ben Moore, Marc Farrant, and Steyn Bergs.

This reading group will explore a selection of seminal, and some lesser-known, works within twentieth and twenty-first century critical and cultural theory, with an emphasis on the intersection between the aesthetic and the political. Walter Benjamin argued in the conclusion of his ‘Work of Art’ essay of 1936 that one of the dangers of fascism is its ‘aestheticizing of politics’, and that communism must respond by ‘politicizing art’. As our contemporary political moment comes to increasingly resemble the conjuncture at which Benjamin was writing in the 1930s, we will ask how the relationship between politics and aesthetics has been theorised by thinkers since, and how we might use their work to analyse and rethink that relationship today.

We plan to meet once a month on Wednesday or Thursday afternoons for around two hours. Our first two meetings will serve as a theoretical orientation, looking at work from Jacques Rancière, Terry Eagleton and Fredric Jameson. After that, we plan to take particular artistic forms, genres, or themes to guide our reading through the year, including comedy (Zupančič, Berlant, Ngai), cinema (Rancière, Deleuze, Eisenstein), music (Adorno) and performativity (Sedgwick). The direction of our reading is flexible however, and depends partly on the interests of the participants. The format will be open and informal. All staff and graduate students, from inside or outside the UvA, are welcome to take part. Research Masters students who take part in the group will be eligible for 2ECs via NICA.

The first meeting will take place at 16.00-18.00 on Thursday 19 September. We will discuss the Terry Eagleton’s essay ‘The Ideology of the Aesthetic’ in parallel with work by Jacques Rancière on the distribution of the sensible.

Please contact Ben Moore (B.P.Moore@uva.nl), Marc Farrant (m.farrant@gold.ac.uk) and Steyn Bergs (s.bergs@vu.nl) if you would like to attend, and to receive a pdf copy of the readings.

Decolonial Studies and Political Philosophy

NICA Core Course

Amsterdam, April – May 2020

Instructor: Yolande Jansen
Register: send an email to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl before March 15 2020. 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.

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

NICA Core Course offered by Toni Pape
Amsterdam, Thursdays 3 – 6 pm | 9 April, 16 April, 23 April, 30 April,7 May, 14 May 2020
Location: t.b.a.

In this course, we will explore a mix of seminal and very recent interventions in queer thinking. More specifically, we will study how queer theory can productively intervene in other fields, mainly critical race theories and disability studies. 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 Assemblages, 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 2020. The plan is to have a fixed reading list for the first two sessions (selected by the teacher) whereas the remainder of the course readings will be proposed and selected by the group of students themselves.

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.) At the end of the course, students will write a paper.

To register, please send an email to Eloe Kingma at nica-fgw@uva.nl. Be sure to specify your master program and university

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.