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?

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?

NICA Electives: Ecologies of Curation (Utrecht University)

Block 2 (13 November 2017 – 26 January 2018) – Utrecht University
Ecologies of curation entails the trans- and interdisciplinary study of the interaction between spectators, artworks/performances and the spatial, social and media environments wherein the objects and acts are staged, produced, situated. Taking the etymological roots of curating as ‘care-taking’ into account, we will explore how curators can and should respond to transformational practices that increasingly cross and bend institutional borders.

John Lysaker & Paul Lysaker: Disordered Self

Public lecture, May 31 | How can we approach self-experience, and how can we understand the disordered self? What are the conceptual and existential challenges of taking care of (or managing and directing) this disordered self? What can the humanities – or art and literature – tell us about mental illness, and how can we further develop theories of the self by building on experiences from clinical practice? During this special event, John Lysaker, Professor of Philosophy, and Paul Lysaker, Psychiatrist and Professor of Clinical Psychology, will tackle these and other questions.

Fashion and National Identity

Seminar, June 19 | The central question of this seminar is the relation between fashion and national identity. Clothes have served in different ways to represent a nation, often in ambiguous and paradoxical ways. But what connects clothes to a nation: the designer’s nationality, the production of clothes, or what people wear? Historians, cultural scholars, museum curators and journalists reflect on how clothes reproduce, shape and question national identity.

PhD Work in Progress

Graduate workshop, June 9 | In preparation of drinks and fingerfood, NICA PhDs Thijs Witty, Olga Krasa-Ryabets, Jan Overwijk, Florian Goettke, and Sandra Becker present work in progress. Yolande Jansen and Murat Aydemir reflect on Cultural Studies ‘now.’ Everyone is invited.

Stuart Elden: Urban Territory, Early Foucault

May 23 and 31, reading session (2 EC) and public lecture | Stuart Elden is Professor of Political Theory and Geography at the University of Warwick, UK. He is the author of seven books, including works on territory, Michel Foucault, Martin Heidegger, and Henri Lefebvre. Elden will present a public lecture, titled “The Early Foucault and the Politics of European Intellectual History.” In addition, he will participate in a joint reading session on urban territory.

Videocontemplation, with Lata Mani and Nicolás Grandi

23-24 May 2017, Film Screening and Masterclass, 1 EC |The Poetics of Fragility is a kaleidoscopic bilingual exploration of the texture, vitality and aesthetics of fragility. It interweaves stories of bodily frailty with optical vignettes of nature’s delicacy to reclaim fragility as intrinsic to existence, not something to be bemoaned or overcome. The masterclass inquires whether and how the camera can act as a tool for philosophical inquiry. How might mystery be restored to word and image in context of the transactional instrumentalism that characterizes neoliberal excess? What forms and genres facilitate an opening out of perception? Given the simultaneous avowal and disavowal of matter and of embodiment in our time what might we propose as constituting a hermeneutic of the senses, or to put it another way, an aesthetics of the sensible?