Postcolonial Poetics and Decolonizing the Academy

Date/Time/Location: Thursday 16 May 2019. Masterclass at 13.30-15.30 in Vondelzaal, UB. Lecture at 17.00-18.00 in PC Hoofthuis 1.04.

Elleke Boehmer’s most recent book, Postcolonial Poetics (2018), reconsiders how postcolonial writing in English shapes and challenges our imaginative understanding of the world. With a focus on reading practices, Boehmer considers how postcolonial literature’s interest in margins, intersections, subversions and crossings has the capacity to help us understand our own relation to the world, and to some of the pressing issues of our time, including resistance, reconciliation, terror, and migration.

This event takes the form of, firstly, a 2-hour masterclass led by Elleke Boehmer, aimed mainly at graduate students, focusing on the issues raised in the introduction and first chapter of Postcolonial Poetics, including the question of how to bring together the political and the aesthetic qualities of postcolonial writing. Secondly, Professor Boehmer will give a 1-hour lecture (including time for questions) under the title ‘We Need to Talk about Decolonization (again)’. This lecture will build on topics touched upon in Postcolonial Poetics to explore the pressing question of the state of decolonization in the contemporary academy. The event is held in conjunction with the English Department guest lecture series.

If you wish to take part in the masterclass, please contact Ben Moore ( to register and receive advance readings. All are welcome to attend the talk at 17.00 without registration.

1EC is available via NICA for Research Masters students who participate in both parts of the event.

Guest Speaker: Elleke Boehmer is Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford, Director of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing (OCLW), and Principal Investigator on the Andrew W. Mellon-funded ‘Humanities and Identities’ project at The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. She is an internationally recognized expert in colonial and postcolonial literature, whose major publications include Colonial and Postcolonial Literature (1995, 2nd edn 2005), Empire, the National, and the Postcolonial, 1890-1920 (2002), The Postcolonial Low Countries (2012, ed. with Sarah de Mul), and most recently Postcolonial Poetics (2018). She is also an author of fiction, including Sharmilla and Other Portraits (2010) and The Shouting in the Dark (2015). She is general editor of the Oxford Studies in Postcolonial Literatures series.

How to do Things with Affect?

Workshop at Spui25 organized by Ernst van Alphen | Speakers: Maria Boletsi, Eugenie Brinkema, Tomas Jirsa and Ernst van Alphen | 29 May 2019, 3-6 pm.

In the last ten years affect has become an indispensable concept for cultural analysis. But this has also had its repercussions. Taking part in a roundtable discussion on the interaction between art and architecture in October 2012, American art historian Hal Foster made the following devastating remark: “When I hear the word affect I reach for my Taser. An unfair reflex, I know, but affect seems to me a prime medium of ideology today—an implanted emotionality that is worse—because more effective—than false consciousness” (Rose 208). His assessment draws attention not only to the so-called ‘affective turn’ that has taken place, but also more importantly to the overuse and exhaustion of the term that has emerged in its wake. For when concepts become fashionable, they usually lose their meaning, impact and operationality. And although they may be used as buzzwords to promote the right discourse, from a conceptual point of view they lose their power. Instead of accepting this depletion of the term, in this workshop we prefer to critically assess the concept of affect in its many uses and give it back its critical edge. To do that, we must return to the originators and disseminators of the concept and see what motivated them to propose it. We will also propose a model that  enables us to understand what distinguishes various theories from each other, since they focus on different phases in the affective process or emphasize the other results or objects that affects trigger. The workshop will end with the bookpresentation of the Edited Volume How to do Things with Affect? Affective Triggers in Aesthetic Forms and Cultural Practices.


• Brian Massumi, The Autonomy of Affect. Deleuze: Critical Reader. Ed. Paul Patton. Blackwell Publishers 1996.
• Eugenie Brinkema, The Forms of the Affects. Preface. Ten points to begin.
• Ernst van Alphen, Affective Operations of Art and Literature. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 53/54 (Spring – Autumn, 2008), pp. 20-30.


Registration: at the Spui25 website; RMA students who want to earn 1 EC should register as well at


Maria Boletsi, Eugenie Brinkema, Tomas Jirsa and Ernst van Alphen

Ernst van Alphen has been a Professor of Literary Studies at Leiden University since 2000. In his research as well as in his teaching, he is particularly interested in issues that are central in modern and post-modern literature and in the relation between literature and the visual arts. The literary texts and art works on which he focuses are usually part of the movements of the historical avant-gardes, modernism, or postmodernism. For a number of years, he has had a particular interest in literature and art representing the Holocaust, and has published several books on this topic. Theoretically, he is still interested in problems related to trauma and memory and their role in literary and artistic representation, but no longer only in the context of the Holocaust. A perspective that is usually part of my research is that of gender studies, especially in relation to masculinity. Before he came to Leiden University, he worked at Utrecht University and the University of Nijmegen; at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam heheld the post of Director of Communication and Education. Ernst has also been appointed as Queen Beatrix Professor of Dutch Studies, as well as Professor of Rhetoric at the University of Califormia, Berkeley.

Maria Boletsi is Endowed Professor (bijzonder hoogleraar) at the University of Amsterdam, where she holds the Marilena Laskaridis Chair of Modern Greek Studies. She also works as assistant professor at the Film and Literary Studies department of Leiden University.
Her work is situated in the fields of comparative literature, literary and cultural theory, conceptual history, Modern Greek literature and culture, English, Dutch, and postcolonial literature. She has published on various topics, including the conceptual history of barbarism, post-9/11 literature and political rhetoric, Modern Greek, English, and Dutch literature, and alternative narratives and subjectivities in the context of the Greek debt crisis. Much of her work is concerned with the intersection of literature, art, and politics.
She has been a Stanley Seeger Research Fellow at Princeton University (2016), a visiting scholar at Columbia University (2008-09) and the University of Geneva (2016) and a participant in the Cornell School of Criticism and Theory (2006). She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Modern Greek Studies and in the editorial team of the Brill book series Thamyris/Intersecting. Maria has cum laude degrees in Classics and Modern Greek Literature (BA, Aristoteles University of Thessaloniki), Comparative Literature (BA, University of Amsterdam) and Cultural Analysis (research MA, University of Amsterdam).  In 2010 she received her Ph.D. with honors from Leiden University (Barbarism Otherwise: Studies in Literature, Art, and Theory).

Eugenie Brinkema is Associate Professor of Contemporary Literature and Media at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and currently a fellow in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Her research in film and media studies focuses on violence, affect, sexuality, aesthetics, and ethics in texts ranging from the horror film to gonzo pornography, from structuralist film to the visual and temporal forms of terrorism. Her articles have appeared in the journals Angelaki, Camera Obscura, Criticism, differences, Discourse, film-philosophy, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, qui parle, and World Picture. Recent work includes articles on irrumation and the interrogatory in violent pornography and the formal affectivity of no longer being loved in Blue is the Warmest Color. Her first book, The Forms of the Affects, was published with Duke University Press in 2014.

Tomáš Jirsa (*1983) is a postdoctoral researcher in comparative literature and cultural theory at Palacký University, Olomouc, Czech Republic. His work traces the relations between modern literature and visual arts; affect studies, media theory, and contemporary music video. After pursuing his doctoral studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Paris-Sorbonne University, he received his Ph.D. in 2012 from Charles University. In 2015 and 2017, he was awarded a junior fellowship from The International Research Institute for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy (IKKM) at Bauhaus University, Weimar. He is the author of two books in Czech, Physiognomy of Writing: In the Folds of Literary Ornament (2012) and Facing the Formless: Affective and Visual Figures in Modern Literature (2016); and most recently, he co-edited (with Ernst van Alphen) the book How to Do Things with Affects: Affective Triggers in Aesthetic Forms and Cultural Practices (Brill, 2019). Currently, he is preparing a special issue of the journal Music, Sound, and the Moving Image (with Mathias Bonde Korsgaard), entitled “The Music Video in Transformation,” and co-editing a special issue of the journal World Literature Studies, “(Inter)Faces: Thinking the Face in Literature and the Visual Arts ” (with Rebecca Rosenberg). In spring 2019, he is Visiting Scholar at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis.

Asbestos Towns

ASCA Cities Public Talk by Dr. Arthur Rose (University of Bristol) | Friday 17 May, 15.00 – 17.00 hrs., room 101A, Universiteitstheater (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16-18)

In this talk, I want to introduce, by way of Patrick Chaimoiseau’s Martinquean epic, Texaco (1992), the ‘asbestos town’: an identification that allows us to consider how asbestos develops, through its involvement in habitation, a strange and complicated relation to community, ecology and environmental toxicity. ‘Asbestos town’ is a term that should be understood dialectically. While it might refer to communities from asbestos mining towns, it might also refer to communities whose involvement with asbestos is less obvious. In the first instance, these single resource towns often prefer decontamination procedures to the dissolution of the community: the needs of the community, to form itself as a community, are often balanced against the risks from asbestos. However, in contexts where asbestos is brought into the home in unexpected ways (either in the construction of the home or through unsuspecting work practices), there is frequently no immediate community with whom to develop meaningful solidarity. My talk turns around those ways in which “asbestos towns”, in this second, less obvious way, come to shape a particular consciousness of asbestos in the built environment. Since I am a literary scholar, my attention will often turn to works of fiction that consider asbestos in the home, whether as a construction material (as in Chaimoiseau’s Texaco) or as a trace of work (Lionel Shriver’s So Much For That), to think about how asbestos features within homes (the asbestos heater in Samuel Beckett’s Murphy), of homes (asbestos roofs in Yvonne Vera’s Butterfly Burning and The Stone Virgins) and surrounding homes (the asbestos environment of Ken Yates’ Dust). But the consequence of these fictions permits a more general insight into the role asbestos plays in infrastructures across the built environment: a failed modernist project to protect individuals from harm in the home.


  • Gregson, Nicky, Helen Watkins and Melania Calestani. Inextinguishable Fibres: Demolition and the Vital Materialisms of Asbestos. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space 42.5 (2010): 1065-1083.
  • Abeysundara, Yasantha, Sandhya Babel, and Shabbir Gheewala. A Matrix in Life Cycle Perspective for Selecting Sustainable Materials for Buildings in Sri Lanka. Building and Environment 44.5 (2009): 997-1004.
  • Rose, Arthur. In the Wake of Asbestos: Ship-building and Ship-breaking in Ross Raisin’s Waterline and Tahmina Anam’s The Bones of Grace. Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 49.4: 139-158.

Readings available by emailing: , ,  or


Climate Realism – Aesthetics and Politics of Climate

May 10 15.00-18.00 | Goethe Institute Amsterdam, Herengracht 470

Climate Realism is an ongoing research project consisting of international colloquiums, conference panels, and both a forthcoming journal issue of Resilience (2020) and book on Routledge (2019). The concept names the challenge of representing and conceptualizing climate in the era of climate change. Climate has traditionally referenced the weather it gathers, the mood it creates, and the settings it casts. In the era of the Anthropocene – the contemporary epoch in which geologic conditions and processes are overwhelmingly shaped by human activity – climate indexes not only atmospheric forces but the whole of human history: the fuels we use, the lifestyles we cultivate, the industrial infrastructures and supply chains we build, and the possible futures we may encounter. In other words, with every weather event, we have become acutely aware that the forces indexed by climate are as much social, cultural, and economic as they are environmental, natural, and physical. By starting with this fundamental insight, this book intervenes in the well-established political and scientific discourses of climate change by catalyzing and consolidating the emerging aesthetic and conceptual project of mediating the various forces embedded in climate.

Climate Realism is an occasion to rethink the aesthetics and politics of climate in its myriad forms; to capture climates capacity to express embedded histories; to map the formal strategies of representation that have turned climate into cultural content; and to index embodied currents of past and future climates. How is realism – in both the aesthetic history of representation and the philosophical tradition that underwrites it – transformed by contending with our new experience of climate in the Anthropocene? What, if anything, separates first and second nature in an age contoured by climate crisis, and what does this mean for a history of philosophy premised on their difference? In order to temper climate change – to apprehend its complexity, to address its short- and long-term consequences, to mitigate its many sources – Climate Realism boldly claims we must develop new aesthetic theories and projects.

The speakers all have forthcoming essays in Climate Realism (Routledge 2019). The panel will be followed by a screening of Shezad Dawood’s ongoing film cycle, Leviathan, and a roundtable discussion with Dawood and the panelists on the politics and aesthetics of climate.


15.00-15.20 Introduction by Jeff Diamanti (University of Amsterdam)
15.20-16.50 Panel discussion Amanda Boetzkes (University of Guelph) and Graeme Macdonald (University of Warwick)
16.50-17:00 Break
17.00-17.20 Film screening of Leviathan
17.20-18.00 Roundtable discussion with Jeff Diamanti, Amanda Boetzkes, Graeme Macdonald, Shezad Dawood

About the speakers:

Amanda Boetzkes is Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Guelph.  Her research focuses on the intersection of artistic practices with the life sciences and global systems of energy use. She is the author of Plastic Capitalism: Contemporary Art and the Drive to Waste (MIT Press, 2019), The Ethics of Earth Art (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), and is co-editor of Heidegger and the Work of Art History (Ashgate, 2014). She has published in the journals Postmodern CultureArt HistoryReconstruction: Studies in Contemporary CultureRACARAntennae: The Journal of Nature and Visual CultureEflux; and She has contributed chapters to numerous books and catalogs, including Marxism and the Critique of Energy (MCM’, 2018); Petrocultures: Oil, Politics, Culture (McGill Queen’s Press, 2017),  Fueling Culture: 101 Words for Energy and Environment (Fordham University Press, 2016); The Edinburgh Companion for Animal Studies (Edinburgh University Press, 2017); West of Center: Art and the Countercultural Experiment in America, 1965-77 (University of Minnesota Press, 2011). Her current project, Ecologicity, Vision and Art for a World to Come considers modes of visualizing environments with a special focus on Arctic landscapes. She is currently a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich, Germany.

Graeme Macdonald is Associate Professor at the University of Warwick, and teaches on the English and Comparative Literary Studies program. MA (Jt Hons in Literature and Sociology) Aberdeen; PhD (Glasgow); (PGCHE) Warwick. He recently edited a new edition of John McGrath’s play The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil (2015) and is currently preparing a monograph, Petrofiction – Oil and World Literature. He is a member of WreC (Warwick Research Collective), whose members work on new ways to think about World Literature/Literature in the World. They have published a co-written monograph on peripheral modernism and world literature: Combined and Uneven Development – Toward a New Theory of World Literature (Liverpool University Press, 2015). He is at present co-investigator on the RSE Research Network, Connecting with a Low Carbon Scotland (2016-18).

Jeff Diamanti teaches Literary and Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. In 2016-17 he was the Media@McGill Postdoctoral Fellow in Media and the Environment where he co-convened the international colloquium on Climate Realism. His work tracks the political and media ecology of fossil fuels, and has appeared in the journals Radical Philosophy, Postmodern Culture, Mediations, Western American Literature, Krisis, and Reviews in Cultural Theory, as well as the books Fueling Culture (Fordham UP) and A Companion to Critical and Cultural Studies (Wiley-Blackwell). Diamanti has edited a number of book and journal collections including Contemporary Marxist Theory (Bloomsbury 2014), Materialism and the Critique of Energy (MCM’ Press 2018), and the forthcoming Energy Culture (West Virginia University Press 2019) and Bloomsbury Companion to Marx (2018), as well as a special issue of Reviews in Cultural Theory on “Energy Humanities” and a double issue of Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities on “Climate Realism.” He is working on a book called Terminal Landscapes: Climate, Energy Culture and the Infrastructures of Postindustrial Capital.

Shezad Dawood works across disciplines film, painting, neon, sculpture and more recently virtual reality to deconstruct systems of image, language, site and narrative. Using the editing process as a method to explore both meanings and forms, his practice often involves collaboration and knowledge exchange, mapping across geographic borders and communities. Through a fascination with the esoteric, otherness and science-fiction, Dawood interweaves histories, realities and symbolism to create richly layered artworks.

The event is free of charge but please register beforehand via

Goethe-Institut Niederlande i.s.m. de Universiteit van Amsterdam, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis en het Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis.

A date with destiny: racial capitalism and the beginnings of the Anthropocene

Session #6 of Race in Film and Philosophy

Location: BG1 0.16, Turfdraagsterpad 9  | Time: May 3, 15.00-18.00

In this seminar we will discuss some key ways the Anthropocene is inexorably racial. The capitalist system  requires racializing populations and environments from early modernity to the present and into the future.  The focus will be on investigating whether it makes sense to take the European discovery of the Americas and the genocide against its original inhabitants as threshold of a new geological epoch. Comparing the radicalization of Marx in the philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari with some recent work in critical race studies, we will suggest that though colonization and slavery were essential for modern globalization to emerge, capital could only embark on its self-perpetuating trajectory through the industrial revolution and mass consumption.


  • Christina Sharpe (2016). “The wake”, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being. Durham, Duke UP
  • Françoise Vergès (2017). “Racial Anthropocene”, in Futures of Black Radicalism eds Gaye Theresa Johnson and Alex Lubin. London, Verso

Arun Saldanha (to be resubmitted). “A date with destiny: racial capitalism and the beginnings of the Anthropocene”, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, special issue “Race and the Anthropocene”, eds. Bruce Erickson and Andrew Baldwin

Optional watching (a quick mainstream intro if you’re totally new to the Anthropocene concept)
The Smithsonian, “What is the Anthropocene?”
(surprising erratum – If modern humans evolved some 200,000 years ago that’s only 0.00004% of Earth’s history not 0.01%)


Arun Saldanha is Associate Professor at the Department of Geography, Environment and Society at the University of Minnesota. He is author of Space After Deleuze (Bloomsbury 2017) and Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race (Minnesota 2007), and coeditor of Deleuze and Race (Edinburgh 2013), and Sexual Difference Between Psychoanalysis and Vitalism (Routledge 2013), and Geographies of Race and Food: Fields Bodies Markets (Ashgate 2013). As NWO-funded Visiting Scholar at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry at Utrecht University he is working on a theoretical book blending geohumanities, Marxism, and evolutionary theory to rethink race as planetary process. Arun organized a symposium called “Prince from Minneapolis” last year and is preparing an edited collection on the event.