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.



Decomposition and Deformation: Literature, Film, Philosoph

Double Lecture: Eugenie Brinkema (MIT) and Julius Greve (University of Oldenburg)

Lecture Series in Media | Arts | Politics. Convened by Pepita Hesselberth, Yasco Horsman (Film and Literary Studies, Leiden University), Monday May 6,  15.00-17.30, Eyckhof 1 / 003C / Leiden University

On Monday May 6, Professor Eugenie Brinkema of MIT and UvA and Dr. Julius Greve of the University of Oldenburg will present paired lectures—one focusing on literature and one focusing on film—exploring decomposition, decay, deformation, and plasticity in relation to torture, geotrauma, aesthetic form, and ethics.

Professor Brinkema’s lecture, “The Fascinations of Violence: Martyrs and the Ethics of Deformation,” focuses on Pascal Laugier’s 2008 new-extremist horror film Martyrs, arguing that the film generates a formal violence that is coextensive with the very aesthetic fascinations that structure it, rendering an account of violence that is monstrative and creative, cinematically demonstrating not the violation of body but the impersonal, non-embodied violence of a fascination with formal possibility, one shared by horror and metaphysical philosophy.

Dr. Greve’s lecture, “Geotrauma and Narrative Form: Decomposing Nature in Cormac McCarthy’s Early Fiction,” asks: How to rethink trauma in the context of today’s turn to the question concerning materiality in the humanities? What is the role of narrative form in the delineation of concepts of nature that resonate with, but are partially independent of, those forged in and by philosophical discourse? How to come to terms with the difference between decomposition as a literary theme, on the one hand, and decay as a process in and by fiction? Dr. Greve traces the concept of nature in the early work of American writer Cormac McCarthy, as it is construed by literary rather than philosophical means, rendering visible a transhistorical and transatlantic constellation, including schools of thought such as Schellingianism and speculative realism.

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.

Julius Greve is a lecturer and research associate at the Institute for English and American Studies, University of Oldenburg, Germany. He is the author of Shreds of Matter: Cormac McCarthy and the Concept of Nature (Dartmouth College Press, 2018), and of numerous articles on McCarthy, Mark Z. Danielewski, critical theory, and speculative realism. Greve has co-edited America and the Musical Unconscious (Atropos, 2015), Superpositions: Laruelle and the Humanities (Rowman & Littlefield International, 2017), and “Cormac McCarthy Between Worlds” (2017), a special issue of EJAS: European Journal of American Studies. He is currently working on two edited volumes that deal with weird fiction, media studies, and cultural ecology, and is working on a manuscript on the relation between modern poetics and ventriloquism.

Urban Crisis-Scapes: On Walks and Ruins

Workshop organized by Eva Fotiadi and Maria Boletsi, in collaboration with Ipek Celik (Koç University), Amsterdam, Belle van Zuylenzaal, 16-17 May 2019

The workshop will focus on city-scapes that have recently been radically reconfigured through pervasive frameworks of crisis – financial, political, humanitarian etc. We want to explore alternative experiences of urban space, new artistic imaginaries, and innovative cultural initiatives emerging from such urban crisis-scapes by centering on two distinct but interrelated thematic lines:

Ruins (day one)


Sadia Abbas (Rutgers University), Ipek Celik-Rappas (Koç University), László Munteán (Radboud University of Groningen), Dimitris Papanikolaou (Oxford University), Dimitris Plantzos (National & Kapodistrian University of Athens), Daan Wesselman (University of Amsterdam)
Recent crisis-frameworks have produced new material ruins and transformed the functions of past ruins. The workshop will explore the new meanings and the sociopolitical and affective functions of ruins in crisis-scapes, as well as figurations of such ruins in cinema and art: ruins that range from monuments or antiquities to vestiges of disaffected zones such as derelict factories, deserted buildings, and abandoned construction sites. Images of ruins often exemplify the material consequences of crisis. But ruins are not only markers of decay and desolation. They often become the ‘canvas’ for creative projects and artistic interventions (e.g., through street art) that mobilize ruins to articulate alternative modes of being in a present of crisis and of envisioning the future. Ruins may thus be involved in subaltern narratives, suppressed histories or radical imaginaries that challenge crisis as “judgment of failure.” But they can also become commercialized and fetishized (e.g., in crisis-tourism or ‘ruin porn’) or revamped as fashionable objects. In cities with a dominant presence of ancient and historical ruins – such as Athens or Istanbul – new ruins interact with ruins of the past, reconfiguring the traditional functions of the latter. New artistic and cinematic languages seek innovative ways to explore the relation of material ruins and precarious subjects afflicted by crisis. What new meanings and operations do ancient and modern ruins assume against the backdrop of pervasive crises? Can ruins and their cinematic, literary or artistic figurations contribute to alternative narratives of modernity, the nation, crisis and futurity?

Walks (day two)


Angeliki Avgitidou (University of Western Macedonia), Efi Giannetopoulou (University of Amsterdam),  Sigrid Merx (Utrecht University), Asli Ozgen-Tuncer (University of Amsterdam), Kathrin Wildner (HafenCity University Hamburg)
Initiatives that use walking as a medium – springing from art projects to architectural research and crisis-tourism – have become increasingly popular. Some walks aim to observe and reflect upon the transformed urban space: vacant housing and commercial spaces, the new homeless, waves of migrants and refugees or the graffiti on derelict buildings. Others show interest in forgotten layers of a city’s turbulent history, which re-emerge through such initiatives and assume new meanings and affective functions in a turbulent present. In other cases – as for example in Athens – guided tours are organized by homeless people or by theatre makers, who set up performative walks aiming to reconcile citizens with the new poor and with districts considered dangerous or ‘migrant ghettos.’ Many of these walks and tours could be considered as crisis voyeurism or as unsolicited quasi-anthropological inquiries that produce (new) social and cultural alterities. However, some of them can also be seen as attempts by locals to make sense of their own situation beyond dominant and over-mediatized crisis narratives. When artists adapt ethnographic methodologies in such initiatives, are they inescapably trapped in a “realist assumption” about the “Other” or in their own “presumptions of ethnographic authority” (Hal Foster)? Can such initiatives contribute to opening up alternative futures for cities in crisis and their inhabitants?

By thinking walks and ruins together, the workshop will address the following topics, among others:

  • Walking as methodology in artistic, architectural, urbanist and other research
  • Revisiting “the artist as ethnographer” discourse
  • Tours around ancient, modern and contemporary historic sites and ruins and spaces of daily life; graffiti tours; “torture and freedom tours” (Documenta14 in collaboration with ASKI, Athens)
  • New significations and functions of ancient and modern ruins against the backdrop of crises
  • Literary, photographic, cinematic and other representations of ruins and narratives of walking within crisis-scapes
  • Alternative uses of ruined, derelict, empty spaces and their relation to subjects who squat, reside and interact with such spaces.
  • New collectivities and social practices emerging from walking and engaging with ruins
  • The role of ruins in shaping alternative narratives of modernity, the nation, crisis and futurity.
  • The (ir)relevance of established theoretical approaches to walking as a cultural practice, from Benjamin’s flâneur to Michel de Certeau’s tactical consumer

To Apply:

RMA and PhD students who wish to attend the workshop may apply by sending an email to NICA (nica-fgw @ uva.nl) by March 1, 2019, with the subject line: Urban Crisis-Scapes: On Walks and Ruins. The workshop will be limited to 25 participants.


RMA students and PhD candidates can earn 1 ECT for their participation in the workshop.

Credit requirements: Participation in a preparatory session of the ASCA research group Crisis, Critique and Futurity (15:00-17:00 Friday afternoon, date and room t.b.a.) and preparation of key readings common for preparatory research group session and workshop by selected workshop speakers; attendance of both workshop days.

The workshop is open to scholars or artists interested in the topic. The workshop is already full for graduate students and Ph.D. candidates wishing to earn EC points, but anyone who wishes to attend (part of) the workshop (not for credits), can register by sending an email by May 6, 2019 to: m.boletsi@uva.nl  and s.e.fotiadi@gmail.com

We will accept registrations for attending the workshop on a first-come-first-served basis, taking into account the seats available in the workshop venue, so don’t wait too long!


May 15 (Wednesday)

(location: OT301, Overtoom 301)

19:30 – 21:00                       Film Program curated by Geli Mademli

A compilation of shorts from the recent Greek film production reveals the agency of urban landscapes and human geographies that resist the obvious taxonomies of crisis, and invites the viewers to wander through newly established archaeological sites, preserving alternative narratives for future presents.

Entrance: free


May 16 (Thursday)  – Ruins

(locations: Panels I & II: Belle van Zuylenzaal / Panel III: De Doelenzaal; both venues in the University Library)


10:00-10:15                         Introduction and welcome

10:15 – 12:15                      Panel I (Belle van Zuylenzaal, UB)

  • Dimitris Plantzos, Ruin-Scapes: Rebranding the Classical Present in Post-crisis Athens
  • Sadia Abbas, “Transcreation:” Quratulain Hyder’s English Rewritings of Her Urdu Novels, the Discourse of Ruins and Colonial Taxonomy

12:15 – 13:15                      Lunch

13:15 – 15:15                      Panel II (Belle van Zuylenzaal, UB)

  • László Munteán, Ruin, Rubble, Wreckage: The Afterlife of the Ruins of the World Trade Center
  • Dimitris Papanikolaou, Dancing on the Ruins of Modernism

15:15 – 15:45                      Coffee break

15:45 – 17:45                      Panel III (De Doelenzaal, UB)

  • Ipek Celik-Rappas, Shooting in the Ruins: Producing Space and Value on Screen
  • Daan Wesselman, Aesthetic battlegrounds in Amsterdam Nieuw-West

17:45 – 19:00                      Borrel

May 17 (Friday)  – Walks

(location: Belle van Zuylenzaal, University Library)

10:00-10:15                         Introduction

10:15 – 12:15                      Panel I

  • Angeliki Avgitidou, Walking Art Methodologies and the Public Space
  • Asli Ozgen-Tuncer, Walking as Cinematographic Labour: The Aesthetics and Politics of the Embodied Long-take

12:15 – 13:15                      Lunch

13:15 – 15:15                      Panel II

  • Sigrid Merx, From Actual Walking to Imaginary Walks: Between Realities #Athens
  • Efi Giannetopoulou & Thomais Dermati, Athens Calling: The Commodification of a Landscape in Crisis

15:15 – 15:45                      Coffee break

15:45 – 17:00                      Panel III

Kathrin Wildner, Walking  Spaces –  A research Tool in Urban Ethnography

17:00 – 17:40                      Final discussion & closing remarks

Moving the Colour Line

Moving the Colour Line

Session #5 of the Race in Philosophy and Media Seminar* introduced by Sudeep Dasgupta. BG1 0.16, 5 April, 15.00 – 18.00. Contact: tessa.devet@student.uva.nl.

What is “Blackness”? And who is asking? To answer the first question, one would also have to answer the second. Why? Because “Blackness” is and has been many things in different times and at different places: a target to be aimed at violently, for enslavement, exploitation and extermination; a weapon of political resistance crafted to combat those who target it; a moving resource of intellectual and political engagement exposing the lines of power that cleave social formations historically and geographically. Instead of an object of distanced academic contemplation, these three dimensions convert “Blackness” and the study of race into a disruptive force through which the prevalence of racist domination is considered intrinsic to both society and its study.
Keeping all three dimensions of “Blackness” in sight, this seminar session will argue that “movement” marks the political and intellectual force of the politics of race. The power of “Blackness” resides in how it has continually moved historically and geographically, and how every formulation exposed the politics of race, gender, sexuality, caste and nation. The three readings locate the politics of race at specific historical moments and in specific spaces to flesh out how “Blackness” was formulated, what it revealed about forms of power, and how it intervened in specific struggles.
W.E.B. Du Bois’ first formulation of the “Colour Line” exposed the impossible fit captured in the syncretic term “American Negro” after Emancipation. The assumption of equality in citizenship was undermined by the inequality maintained by a racist nation-state. What were the consequences for the “Souls of Black Folk” post-Emancipation and in the midst of Jim Crow? How did these Souls experientially live the contradictions of this failed transition from enslavement to emancipation? What did it say about progressive notions of historical development and the racialized bases for thinking the Nation? And how might it expose the continuing deformations of subjectively-felt identities in contemporary politics which demands assimilation, integration and the dissolution of alterity?

Saidiya Hartman’s poetic rendition of “Wayward Lives” defiantly articulates the lived realities of Black women in the U.S. to counter the ways they have been targeted in political, intellectual and media discourse. From being objects of sociological study, racist media discourse and political discourse of the U.S. state, Hartman makes them resistant subjects by voicing the affective, intellectual and political dimensions of gendered and raced subjects. Who decides what the “straight” line is from which these raced and gendered bodies drift? What queer trajectories of defiant speech and aesthetic invention do they draw, and how does this waywardness expose the racist assumptions dividing society and (en)gendering hate? Hazel Carby’s article situates the continuing necessity for the work Hartman produces by providing a genealogy of black women’s articulation of the intrinsic links between race, sexuality and imperialism within feminist thought.
Kamala Visweswaran emphatically reminds us that Un/common cultures were formed precisely through the transnational exchange of intellectual and political resistance to forms of racism. Tracing Du Bois’ dependence on caste theory from India in his conceptualization of race in the U.S., she tracks its repercussions today as Western racism, Indian caste oppression and sexist domination everywhere intersect in the relay between the U.S., South Africa and India.
The readings move the colour line between different geographical spaces and historical periods to flesh out the often-emaciated notions of “Blackness” which circulate in the academy. By giving substance to this term, both the political importance and intellectual wealth of anti-racist engagements outside and in the academy emerge as “Blackness” is understood as target, weapon and moving resource.


W.E.B. Du Bois, “Of Our Spiritual Strivings”, The Souls of Black Folk (Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2007); 7 – 14.
Saidiya Hartman, “The Terrible Beauty of the Slum”, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval (W.W. Norton & Co., London and New York, 2019).
Hazel Carby, “‘On the Threshold of Woman’s Era’: Lynching, Empire and Sexuality in Black Feminist Thought”, Critical Inquiry 12(1), 1985, pp: 262 – 277.
Kamala Visweswaran, Un/Common Cultures: Racism and the Rearticulation of Cultural Difference (Duke University Press, Durham, 2017) 68 – 72; 131 – 159.

*Change of Name of the Seminar to Race in Philosophy and Media.
The title of this year’s seminar is now changed to Race in Philosophy and Media. This results from the strong, but fair and convincing criticism we received from several colleagues including members of the University of Colour whose work we very much appreciate. We must admit that we have not been careful enough considering the name and the organization of the first half of the seminar, that therefore contributed to further marginalization of people of colour. This was not our intention, and we want to apologize for that. With the new title and the topics of the next meeting, we want to continue to engage in a much-needed discussion in a hopefully productive and inclusive manner.

ASCA Workshop 2019: Realities and Fantasies: Relations, Transformations, Discontinuities

ASCA Workshop 2019:

Realities and Fantasies: Relations, Transformations, Discontinuities

10-12 April 2019, University of Amsterdam

Organized by Divya Nadkarni, Alex Thinius, and Nadia de Vries


Keynote speakers:

Keynote lectures:

  • Jonathan Culler (Cornell University): Fantasizing Narrators for Novels and Speakers for Poems
  • Annabelle Dufourcq (RU Nijmegen): Do we have to be Realistic? The imaginary dimension of the real: a phenomenological approach to imagination, images and the imaginary field.
  • Nkiru Nzegwu (SUNY Binghamton): Dancing the In-Between: The Immense Power of Madness
  • Susanna Paasonen (University of Turku): Thinking Sex, Thinking Play

What are the contemporary ways in which reality and fantasy relate, how do they contrast, and how, under what conditions, can one transform into the other? In the workshop, artists and scholars from a range of approaches, cases, and places, discuss the kinship between realities and fantasies and its contemporary use. Papers focus on love and desire in the time of tinder, AI, authenticity, narrative selves, enactment, transliminality, futurism, utopism, nationalisms, absurdity, oppressive regimes, trauma, ‘grotesque’ bodies, animal sanctuaries, magical realism, sound, intentionality, discovery between arts and science, and the normative use of art and literature. Next to paper presentations, there is an exhibition and a workshop performance.

Keynote lectures will take place in Doelenzaal, Singel 425, the concluding keynote panel will be in the VOC zaal, Bushuis. Everyone is welcome to the keynotes and panels. If you would like to receive the texts of the panels in advance, please write to realitiesfantasies2019@gmail.com. For more details on the program, venues, and the keynote lectures, please visit https://realitiesfantasies.wordpress.com/.