May 22: Night of Protest

May 22 | For the third time, Humanities Rally is organizing a Night of Protest. As in 2014 and 2015 we will come together because unfortunately we still face the same problems. There are still cutbacks, different studies are being combined and the workload among teachers is too high. Room for choice disappears, lecturers are being fired and the representative advisory bodies can’t do anything about it. Invite all your friends and co-worker to come to Oudemanhuispoort on May 22 at 19:00h for a Night of Protest!

Thinking Through Things

Exhibition, June 1 and 2 | How can analysis take shape? The many different artefacts collected in Thinking Through Things together answer this question. As projects accompanying the theses of eleven rMA Cultural Analysis students from the University of Amsterdam, these artworks, images and objects are each products of individual thought processes, labour and archives: research in practice. Heterogeneous in both subject matter and form, the exhibition includes video essays, textiles, performance poetry, visual works, sculpture and photography — on topics as diverse as astrology, alt-right camp, smart cities, Islam Nusantara and drone cinematography.

Vanessa Agard-Jones: Decolonial Desires

Lecture and masterclass, June 6 and 7, 2018, 2 EC | In this lecture and masterclass, we reflect upon the meaning of decolonization in Caribbean contexts where political sovereignty is not the anticipated nor desired outcome. As we consider bitter contests over the etiology of same-sex desire in the region and the consistent framing of gender transgression and same sex desire as colonial imposition, we explore the forms of political maneuver that make desire the terrain for proxy debates about sovereignty, freedom, and decolonial futures.

Gina Dent: The Idea of Africa

Lecture and masterclass, May 16, 2018, 1 EC
THE MASTERCLASS IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail with your name, university and research school to NICA-fgw@uva.nl. We will put you on our waiting list.
Scholar and organizer Gina Dent will give a masterclass at the University of Amsterdam called The Idea of Africa (May 16). Besides a masterclass, she will present from her forthcoming book Anchored to the Real: Black Literature in the Wake of Anthropology (Duke University Press) in a lecture at the Black Archives (May 16) and participate in the Public Dialogue: Radical Solidarity and Intergenerational Coalitions at the Tropenmuseum (May 13). The masterclass, lecture, and public dialogue are part of the weeklong program Moving Together: Activism, Art and Education – A Week with Angela Davis. The masterclass —the title of which is taken from V.Y. Mudimbe’s classic text of the same name—will focus on the epistemological and political position of Africa in cultural studies, the role of anthropology,  and the simultaneous processes of over- and under-representation of the continent that mark enunciations of the global and the local.

The Energy Commons, with Ashley Dawson and Jeff Diamanti

Public event, May 24, 2018 | The struggle for democratic control over energy production, distribution, and use is consequently a key front in the fight for a better, sustainable world. In order to make this power shift, we need to stop thinking of energy as a commodity and instead conceive of it as part of the global commons, a vital element in the great stock of air, water, plants, and collectively created cultural forms like music and language that have traditionally been regarded as the inheritance of humanity as a whole.

Ashley Dawson: Can New York Be Saved?

Masterclass, 1 EC, May 24, 2018 | Taking New York City as a paradigmatic example, this masterclass explores the question of the urban condition in the Anthropocene Age. If the urban communities that will face the gravest threats are those already coping with entrenched forms of economic, social, and environmental injustice, what role do urban movements for just adaptation have to play in an era of climate chaos? And how can such movements best challenge the disasters brought on by a capitalist system run amok?

Elvis Lives in Amsterdam

CFP, deadline May 21, 2018 | We aim to have an interdisciplinary discussion about the various ways in which our understanding of musicians taps into the imaginary, and what case studies about musicians can teach us about the imaginary constitution of our everyday experiences. Our interest will not be to debunk myths, but to understand what role imaginary representations of musicians play in our personal lives, in society and the arts in general.

Moving Together: Activism, Art and Education, with Angela Davis

Week-long programme, May 12-17, 2018 | Artists, educators and activists have often been at the forefront of challenging social and cultural hierarchies within society. Events of the past decade have highlighted a noticeable increase in authoritarianism, racism, sexism, environmental disasters and economic hardship at local and global levels. This turbulent climate has prompted significant responses in the form of social movements calling for more inclusion, decolonization, and liberation within cultural and educational institutions. Moving Together aspires to amplify ongoing conversations on refugee, anti-racist, feminist, queer, trans*, anti-border, anti-nationalist, prison abolition, and environmental justice struggles through sharing knowledge and strengthening connections between arts, activism and education.

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?

As Slowly As Possible: Entangled Temporalities

Workshop, May 24, 3 EC | In a comparative analysis, we will discuss the four keynotes’ different approaches towards the interrelation of the temporality of media on the one hand, and human temporality on the other. We will analyze how the different media these scholars and artists scrutinize (sound, moving image, literature, performance) are related to different approaches towards mediated, embodied, and experienced time, as well as towards natural, human, and technological concepts of time.

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.

Florian Cramer: Weaponization of the Carnivalesque

Public Lecture, April 20 | Florian Cramer is a reader in 21st Century Visual Culture at the Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam. This lecture will map the network and history of the large white suprematist subculture of the “Alt-Right” along with related currents and subcultures, break down its deliberately hermetic linguistic and visual codes, and explain their relation to popular visual culture on the Internet.

(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. 

Interpretation Today

May 16, Conference | Increasingly in the last decades, scholars have written about the limits of interpretation. Recent forms of ‘distant reading’ in Digital Humanities, experiments in machine reading, critiques of historicism, and narratives of the ‘turn away from the linguistic turn,’ all foreground the epistemological restrictions inherent to the practice of interpreting individual texts. We will critically assess these orientations and try to rethink the uses and misuses of hermeneutics in the present moment.

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).

Techno-Performance in a Knowledge Culture in Transition

Masterclass, May 22, 1 EC | In this masterclass we take Lyotard’s report on knowledge as a historical point of reference for a closer look at the performance of technology in our current knowledge culture, and the onto-epistemological implications of this role. We do so together with Jon McKenzie, who with his groundbreaking Perform or Else: From Discipline to Performance (2004) draws attention to technological performance, or Techno-Performance, as key to understanding performativity as legitimizing force.

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.