New Materialism, Politics and Design Cultures in the Humanities

Workshop, April 12 | The humanities has recently undergone a paradigm shift in its turn to ‘new materialism’. This new materialist perspective has had profound implications for humanities’ understanding of politics not as delimited to a specific domain of human activity but as a complex and scattered reality where power is thoroughly distributed between different entities. How can the humanities, by engaging with this new materialist understanding of politics, be relevant to urgent societal and scientific questions today?

Richenel Ansang: Critical Thinking in Curacao

Lecture and masterclass, 2 EC, April 3 and 6 | Richenel Ansano is the UNESCO Facilitator on Intangible Heritage in Curaçao and an expert on heritage and memory. The lecture examines the landscape of 20th century critical thought in Curaçao in relation to regional, Kingdom and global developments, its own unique traditions, and how this vital thought-action culture is forgotten by a society marked by a history of slavery, colonialism and rapid industrialization. The masterclass discusses various concepts of opposition, repression, romanticization, decontextualization and appropriation in the Curaçaoan context, and dives into the contentious relationships among critical Curaçaoan thinkers. Additionally, the active construction of forgetting in Curaçao will be taken into account.

(In)Human Time: Artistic Responses to Radiotoxicity

CFP, deadline March 26 | Radiotoxicity – the toxic effects of a radioactive substance on living cells or tissue – is notoriously intangible. Not only is ionizing radiation imperceptible to the unaided human senses, diseases caused by radiation exposure often develop only years or decades later, making it hard to make juridical claims. To complicate matters, radiotoxicity does not only rupture human time, but opens the inhuman perspective of a deep future, forcing thousands of future generations to live with the radioactive contaminants released today. What role does art and visual culture assume in debates on radiotoxicity and its complex temporalities? How have artists responded historically to the phenomenon of radiotoxicity and how has this changed with major ‘nuclear events’ like the detonation of the atomic bomb, the Three Mile Island accident or the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters? And what aesthetic strategies do artists develop to make radiotoxicity tangible? These and related questions shall form the frame for this workshop.

Greta Olson: The Pornification of Culture

Seminar, 1 EC, March 21-22 | Porn has gone mainstream. Its tropes and narratives increasingly appear as unmarked in everday culture. The seminar shall analyze specific texts in which porn tropes and narratives are carried over into mainstream culture to better comprehend why porn has become so ubiquitously visible that its presence is rendered invisible due to its regularity. 

Mari Mikkola: Humanist Feminism, Injustice, and Pornography

Workshop and Masterclass, April 11 and 12, 1 EC | In her 2016 book “The Wrong of Injustice”, Mari Mikkola defends and reframes a humanist approach to feminist analyses of injustice such as sexism: arguably, sexism involves systematically treating women in dehumanizing ways, where it is the dehumanizing moment that makes these injustices wrong. This way Mikkola aims to circumvent the thorny problems of debates around ontological commitments of gender terms and identity categories, while at the same time offering a sense in which feminism is both for everyone and for women in particular. The workshop aims at a constructive and critical discussion of crucial steps in Mikkola’s argument. In the masterclass, we discuss Mikkola’s current and forthcoming work on feminist metaphysics and pornography (“Beyond Speech”, 2017, OUP; “Pornography: A Philosophical Introduction”, forthcoming, OUP).

Sound Heritage

Elective, offered by the VU, 6 EC, starting February 6 | Sound Heritage explores what sounds and sound concepts have been approved in the past; under what conditions these might be considered heritage today; and what saving such concepts for future generations actually means.

Memory and Protest Cultures in Postcolonial and Post-Socialist Contexts

January 22, Platform for Postcolonial Readings, 1-3 EC | In recent years, ‘protest’ has become one of the keywords in describing and fashioning forms of resistance that addresses the nexus of social, political and economic injustice locally and globally – from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, from Gezi Park to Euromaidan, anti-corruption protests in Russia to #FeesMustFall in South Africa. In all these events and movements, re-actualisations of the past and contestations of present-day memory politics have played a prominent role. As this feature deserves more attention, particularly in a comparative frame, this meeting of the Platform for Postcolonial Readings seeks to address the mentioned processes at the interfaces of postcolonial and post-socialist studies and at the interstices of (former) ‘East’ and ‘West’.

The Icon as Cultural Model: Past, Present and Future

25-26 January 2018, Amsterdam | Journalists, artists and scholars, among others, tend to refer to iconic events or images from the past in order to better understand present-day developments. For example, in the wake of the American elections media repeatedly referred to the iconic ‘years of crisis’ of the thirties of the last century. Also, they recalled George Orwell’s iconic depiction of a dystopian society from his novel 1984 to contextualize the use of ‘alternative facts’. In this respect, the icon functions as a model that generates cultural meaning by connecting past and present. But the icon not only shapes our (collective) image of the present, nor does it merely re-evaluate our image of the past. It also opens up potential scenarios for the future – be it brilliant or gloomy.

Visual Activism, with Zanele Muholi

Conference workshop, December 13-15, 2017, 1 EC | Acclaimed visual activist Zanele Muholi is the first black womxn to have a solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum (July-October 2017). The workshop with Muholi will be a part of the conference Art & Activism: Resilience Techniques in Times of Crisis taking place December 13-15, 2017 in Leiden. For this event, Muholi will present with the researcher Lindiwe Dhlamini who volunteers with the Inkanyiso media collective. In the workshop, Muholi will show images and discuss her perspective on visual activism, a term she coined in the late 1990s-early 2000s to describe her practice of documentary photography of black lesbians in South African townships.

Masterclass: Ann Laura Stoler

Masterclass, 3 EC, 7-9 December 2017 | Ann Laura Stoler is Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research in New York. She has worked for some thirty years on the politics of knowledge, colonial governance, racial epistemologies, the sexual politics of empire, and ethnography of the archives. During this masterclass, Stoler will address the trajectory of her work and how subjects change both the form and content of the writing process. How do words, concepts, and style matter?

ASAP: As Slowly as Possible

CFP, deadline November 17 | Contemporary ideas of slowness, as introduced by such movements of the 1980s including Carlo Petrini’s “slow food” and other projects, have gained increasing relevance in our ever-accelerating present. Far from denoting merely a claim to slow down, slowness encourages us to address the complexities of contemporary production and reception processes with a heightened sensibility to multi-layered interrelations from the economic to the ecological.

Erez Tzfadia: Colonization and Space in Israel/Palestine

Public Lecture and Masterclass, November 9-10, 1 EC | Erez Tzfadia teaches and researches spatial policy and politics at the department of public policy and administration at Sapir College, Israel. The lecture will address practices of territorial control and dispossession, based on ‘gray spacing’: temporal and informal development of land in which the logic of ethno-nationalism, and not the logic of law, determines the future of development – formalization or eviction. The masterclass will include a screening of a recent documentary that reveals the story of Israel’s “development towns” – 30 new localities that were planned and built in 1950s as part of colonization and present the price that immigrant-families often pay for colonial projects. A short introduction on frontiers and periphery will precede the film, and a discussion on colonialism, territory and cultural hierarchies will follow.

Dutch-Caribbean Reading Group

Reading group/tutorial, 4-6 EC, starting October 20 | This reading group engages with Caribbean (feminist) scholarship focusing on the Humanities and explores questions around gendered and sexual citizenship in relation to the Dutch Caribbean.

Worlding the Brain

Conference workshop, 3 EC, October 12, November 2-4 | The conference explores the ‘worlding’ of the brain, the mutual influence of the extra-cerebral world on the brain and the brain on the world. The themes of affect, care and engagement indicate that the interaction between world and brain is never neutral but always mediated by concerns, interests and emotions in different ways.

Fatties: Politics of Volume

CFP, deadline November 20th, 2017 | We call for researchers, activists and artists that problematize, analyze and reflect on the ways fatness is experienced, marginalized, and represented both within mainstream media and institutions as well as within body positive/fat acceptance spaces.

Playstation Dreamworld, with Alfie Brown

Lecture and masterclass, 1 EC, January 10, 2018 | As the phenomenon of Pokémon Go made clear in 2016, videogaming now takes place not in a separate sphere, isolated from the mainstream of modern capitalist society, but at society’s very centre. The structure of dream consciousness promoted by gaming inescapably shapes our world, arising from the multitude of screens that surround us and mediate the way we perceive the everyday world, as well as its possible futures and our role within them. Alfie Bown’s new book argues that such ubiquity should not be understood purely in terms of ideological control however, or as merely another way in which leisure time is commodified for the benefit of narrow economic interests; rather, drawing on Lacanian dream analysis, we can find videogaming to be a subtle and even subversive space, which holds the potential to reshape the politics of the Left even as it serves the domination of a hegemonic capitalist consensus. Drawing on insights from Bown’s work, this event provides a chance to explore the link between videogaming, psychoanalysis and capitalism, and to reconsider the relevance of what we might call ‘capitalist dream analysis’ for cultural analysis and practice more widely.

The Spectral Turn

Leiden PhD Seminar, starting September 28 | The seminar will be devoted to the contemporary fascination with ghosts and haunting, the so-called spectral turn, a fascinating and complex topic because of its many manifestations.

Interpretation Today

Seminar, 5 EC, starting September 20, 2017 | How can we assess the status of interpretation in the Humanities today? Increasingly in the last decades, scholars have written about the limits of interpretation. We discuss various orientations toward reading that oppose some of the hallmarks of the hermeneutic tradition—such as depth, consciousness, the primacy of language, humanism, interpretation, mediation, epistemology, and historicism. Instead, these theories value surfaces, description, cognition, affect, materiality, nonhuman entities, the natural and social sciences, and speculative thought.

Dissecting Violence

CFP ASCA/NICA Graduate Workshop, deadline October 17, 2017 | Violence is all around us. In Dissecting Violence, we will take on violence and its structures, its imaginaries and representations, as well as the multiple ways it can be resisted.

Cultural Studies Now

NICA Core Course, 6 EC, November-December 2017 | 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, and culture. How did Cultural Studies start out? What can it now be?