Judith Butler

Round Table “In Tribute to Saba Mahmood” with Judith Butler

Round Table with Judith Butler “In Tribute to Saba Mahmood” took place at the Art-kino Croatia in Rijeka on June 20th 2018,  within the summer school “Critique of Violence Now: from Thinking to Acting against Violence” program.

The round table discussion, entitled In Tribute to Saba Mahmood, was dedicated to the recently deceased anthropologist from the University of California, Berkeley who dedicated her scientific research career to studying the relationship of different religious forms and sexual practices, in particular as regards women. At the conversation in Art-kino Croatia, guests from the region joined Judith Butler in evoking Saba Mahmood’s book Religious Difference in a Secular Age. A Minority Report, focusing specifically on aspects directly relevant to the regional context. Participating in the conversation: Rebeka Anic (Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar – Split), Zilka Spahic Siljak (University of Stanford, TPO Foundation Sarajevo), Sanja Potkonjak (University of Zagreb), Adriana Zaharijevic (IFDT, University of Belgrade), Senka Bozic (University of Zadar), with moderation by Sanja Bojanic (CAS SEE, APURI). The discussion was held in Croatian and English. The round table was followed by the projection of Martha Rosler’s film Semiotics of the Kitchen (USA, 1975).

Organizers: University of Rijeka, Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe (UNIRI CAS SEE), Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (University of Belgrade).

Partners: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Zagreb, Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc, Erste Stiftung, European Fund for the Balkans, Institut Francais Croatia, Consulato generale d’Italia – Fiume, Goethe Institute Zagreb, Art-kino Croatia and the City of Rijeka. The Summer School program was part of the “Kitchen” and “Seasons of Power” Flagships of the project “Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture.”

Photo credits: Art-kino Croatia

“Critique of Violence Now. From Thinking to Acting Against Violence” with Judith Butler

The CAS SEE 2018 Summer School “Critique of Violence Now. From Thinking to Acting Against Violence” (June 18 – 22, 2018) opened with at inaugural lecture by Judith Butler, entitled “Interpreting Non-Violence”. The event took place at the Croatian National Theater “Ivan pl. Zajc” in Rijeka on Monday, June 18th 2018. During the lecture Butler posed a question: who is the “we” that gathered at this occasion? Whoever we were, she said, we are all different, and conflict, is surely already among us. The challenge is to live with the conflict without (any) violence.

Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, reminded us how our society stems from a powerful foundational fiction that is based on a conception of the human as masculine, self-sufficient, adult individual. This fiction inaugurates a societal structure that sustains ideas of individualism. But, what would happen if we tried another story?

We are all born into a condition of radical interdependency. Judith Butler advocated for changing our focus on interdependency against the self-sufficiency fantasy that is deeply rooted in our societies. Coming to the realization of our mutual interdependency is the condition of equality that can lead towards the understanding of our global obligations (toward our fellow humans, other animals, other living processes, and the environment). Butler argued against the mechanisms that cause that some lives are more grievable than others and some lives are more precarious than others. This is why an ethics of non-violence has to do with an equal distribution of the conditions of livability. In her final words, she concluded that arguing for non-violence is usually regarded as unrealistic, but maybe those who claim this are too enamored with reality.

On Tuesday 19th 2018, the City of Rijeka Town Hall hosted the public debate “Political Violence: is counterstrike possible?”, moderated by Manuela Bojadžijev (Humboldt University). In this debate, Donatella della Porta (Scuola Normale Superiore, Firenze) argued for the need of analyzing violence at different levels: macro (economic injustice and ethnic discrimination), meso (incapsulation of ideology), and micro (through acts of intolerant identities). Peter Fenves (Northwestern University) used Immanuel Kant’s fantasy of perpetual peace to argue that we do not have a fantasy of the state that can lead towards a theory of right. Do we, then, need new fantasies? Also, he presented Walter Benjamin’s idea of the connection between the state and criminality: criminality is an alibi to the State foundation – all States are organized violent organizations, and violent syndicates have pretensions of taking over the State.

Marc Crepon (Ecole Normale Superiore, Paris) added that there is a murderous consent as a dimension to our belonging to this world. Ignorance is also a part of murderous consent to violence and we need legal action of lawmakers to withhold certain forms of violence. Child labour, slavery, political violence, death penalty, domestic violence/masculine domination, are examples of violences that have to be tackled through legal actions. The media theorist Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky (Ruhr University Bochum) used the example of the Counter-Strike videogame to reflect on the politics of the game against terrorism.

Judith Butler reflected on the title of the debate: Is counterstrike possible? What is a strike? Is it violent or non-violent, or is it perhaps both? Is a non-violent counter-strike possible? We often think about violence as a physical blow, but is it the case for political violence? Political violence seems to act at the level of the state (police, army, prisons), of the violent laws (permitting genocide or femicide), of institutions (abandoning the migrants, for example). States also fail at taking political stances against these violences. And this, she argued, is not a physical blow, but it is violence. This passive way of failing to provide sanctuary fosters particular ways of circulating violence. In her final words, Manuela Bojadzijev claimed that nowadays it is more than ever necessary that institutions take an affirmative stance by pronouncing themselves as sanctuaries for migrants and for marginalized people. This positive act of taking positions in favor of human rights can maybe become the affirmative counterstrike that helps us face contemporary violences.

On Wednesday afternoon, June 21th, the Summer School rendered a tribute to Saba Mahmood, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley who passed away on March 10th, 2018. This tribute took form of a round table, moderated by Sanja Bojanić (UNIRI CAS SEE/Academy for Applied Arts), with participation by Judith Butler, Rebeka Anić (Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar – Center Split), Zilka Spahić Šiljak (Standford University/TPO Foundation Sarajevo), Sanja Pontonjak, (University of Zagreb), Adriana Zaharijević (IFDT University of Belgrade), and Senka Božić (University of Zadar). Together, they reflected on Mahmood’s important contribution to contemporary debates on secularism, feminism, ethics and politics, with viewpoints that contested Western ideas on pious Muslim women.

For Saba Mahmood, secularism can be an instrument for intolerance and leads towards conflict because of its own ambiguity: it advocates equality while imposing inequalities and producing minorities. In this sense, the participants of the table deliberated on the features of a state that considers itself as secular, specifically reflecting on the Croatian context.

Regarding feminism, there was an interesting reflection on the relationship between secular and religious feminisms. It was stated that an entirely secular (or religious) feminism would be provincial; thus, it would be wise to overcome the secularism/religion divide in order to escape the reactive cycle that is often established and to work towards a cooperation between secular and religious feminisms.

Summer school organizers: University of Rijeka, Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe (UNIRI CAS SEE), Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (University of Belgrade).

Partners: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Zagreb, HNK Ivan pl. Zajc, Erste Stiftung, European Fund for the Balkans, Institut Francais Croatia, Consulato generale d’Italia – Fiume, Goethe Institute Zagreb, Art-kino Croatia and the City of Rijeka.

The 2018 Summer School program is part of the “Kitchen” and “Seasons of Power” Flagships of the project “Rijeka 2020 – European Capital of Culture.”

"Non-violent resistance works." A Talk Europe! interview with Judith Butler

Talk Europe!Is non-violent resistance able to end aggression and wars? And are there times when violence is, in fact, necessary? Judith Butler believes that non-violent resistance can be a strong and forceful instrument to undermine sources of state power and bring about change.Special thanks goes to the Center for Advanced Studies – South East Europe for making this interview possible. #cassee #uniri

Objavljuje ERSTE Foundation u Srijeda, 29. kolovoza 2018.

The “Non-violent resistance works.” A Talk Europe! interview with Prof. Judith Butler, brought to us by ERSTE Foundation at the UNIRI CAS SEE in June 2018.

Critique of Violence Now: From Thinking to Acting against Violence

2018 CAS SEE Summer School
Rijeka, June 18 – 22, 2018

Guest lecturers:

Judith Butler (Berkeley University)

Hervé Le Brass (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris)

Peter Fenves (Northwestern University)

Alexis Nuselovici-Nouss (University of Aix-Marseille, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme)

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky (Ruhr University Bochum)

Marc Crepon (Ecole normale supérieure, Paris)

 

Rationale and background:

The 2018 CAS SEE Summer School examines one of today’s most pressing topics: how to think and what to do with violence in our present society. To what extent is it possible to deconstruct and name emerging mechanisms of violence? What are the kinds of phenomena that escalate coercion and violence, making it difficult to either contain them or to work out feasible alternatives? Assuming that violence in the various social contexts is not a self-contained, but rather a relational/social phenomenon (across various social entities and institutions such as families, associations, corporations, nations, states, religions), is there any social purpose of violence, and is there any productive alternative to violence? Is violence a form of communication, and are there substitutes in terms of strategies of communication that might non-repressively reduce the recourse to violence?

Southeastern Europe has seen more than its share of violence, as well as of anti-violence ideology over the past several decades, propagated both by the states and governments and by civil society organizations and various sections of the society. The region has seen the adoption and implementation of various EU laws and policies to a far greater and more extreme level than they were implemented in their countries of origin. The trend is partly a symptom of identity crisis and identity insecurity, where policies are designed to curtail all kinds of violence in society, shifting power towards every increasing prerogatives of the administration. Every instance of violence tends to be interpreted as a systematic social degeneration, which needs to be uprooted by draconian control and repressive policies. The results include an extremely powerful police force and state institutions with sweeping authority over individual citizens, and an increasing apathy and defensiveness by the ordinary people. Thus the study of violence as well as anti-violence policy addresses a core issue for the quality of life in Southeastern Europe.

“Critique of Violence Now” will:

  • Provide a framework for exchange of views and insights among activists and academics on following topics: Political Violence, Administrative Violence, Legal Violence, Domestic Violence, Collective Violence in the regional and global context, Countering (discourses of) violence through social engagement, Social inequalities and neoliberal conquest of state and society;
  • Inspire and build capacity of participants through stimulating topical and theoretical input by renowned academics, creating opportunities for building networks and joint cooperation actions in the field;
  • Provide workspaces for the participants to discuss and work on short papers (app. 3 pages) dedicated to four major clusters: “Political Violence: Revisited”; “Administrative Violence: Migration”; “Ethnicized and Racialised Violence”; “Deconstructing Misogyny and Patriarchy”. Papers (in English) would be further refined immediately after the Summer School and published in a volume edited by the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory University of Belgrade.

Technical information and application procedure:

The official language of the Summer School is English.

The Program Committee of the 2018 CAS SEE Summer School will select the presenters based on the submitted abstracts responding to four Clusters:

  • “Political Violence: Revisited”;
  • “Administrative Violence: Migration”;
  • “Ethnicized and Racialized Violence”;
  • “Deconstructing Misogyny and Patriarchy”

We kindly ask you to put the following title in your email subject: ‘Name: title of the paper’. The complete application should be submitted in.doc or .docx format, and must contain: the title of the presentation, an abstract of up to 200 words, key words and a short biography in English.

Summer School applications should be sent only via e-mail to the following address: cas@cas.uniri.hr

Deadline for abstracts is 31st March 2018.

It is expected that the participants submit their full papers before 1st June 2018.

2018 CAS SEE Summer School Full Registration Fee is 125 Euros; Student Registration Fee is 50 Euros.

Payment is due before 1st June 2018.

The Summer School hosts offer reception and the ticket entrance for the theatre performance on June 18th in the evening, and provide refreshments throughout the duration of the Summer School program.

Important dates:

Application deadline: 31st March 2018

Notification of acceptance: 30th April 2018

2018 CAS SEE Summer School dates: 18th–22nd June 2018

Program Committee:

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky; Ruhr University Bochum

Petar Bojanic; IFDT University of Belgrade / CAS SEE University of Rijeka

Vedran Dzihic; oiip / CAS SEE University of Rijeka

Manuela Bojadzijev; Humboldt University

Sanja Bojanic; CAS SEE/CWS, University of Rijeka

Adriana Zaharijevic; IFDT, University of Belgrade

Gazela Pudar Drasko; IFDT, University of Belgrade

Organization Board:

Mónica Cano Abadía, Kristina Smoljanovic (CAS SEE University of Rijeka)

For information on the time schedule, organization and future events, please follow us at the official website and the Facebook page.

If any further details are needed, please contact us at: cas@cas.uniri.hr

MONICA CANO ABADIA

The Re-Radicalization of Critical Thinking. Toward a Global Social Justice with Judith Butler and Rosi Braidotti

“The research project The Re-Radicalization of Critical Thinking: Toward a Global Social Justice intends to carry out a diffractive reading on Rosi Braidotti and Judith Butler. A diffractive reading is a methodology that tries to read important insights though one another. What Braidotti has called the ‘transatlantic disconnection’ shows that they belong to different traditions within post-structuralist feminist philosophy. Nonetheless, I would say that their (dis)connections can be seen more as a fruitful exchange –as Butler proposes in Undoing Gender– and an interesting overlapping of perspectives that enables thinking about social justice.

Several are the differences between Butler and Braidotti, and both have addressed them in many occasions. In this presentation, I will diffractively outline some of the points of friction that are of the most importance for me in order to think –with and through them– about global social justice –namely, questions about the decentering of the humanist subject, negativity and lack, vulnerability, agency, relationality, or activism.

Both highlight the necessity of calling for action towards social transformation. Thus, I will argue that their recent scripts are of the most importance to analyze the agents of new thinking within a contemporary Critical Theory beyond neoliberalism.”


Mónica Cano Abadía, current CAS SEE fellow, obtained her Ph.D. in Philosophical Studies at the University of Zaragoza. She wrote a Thesis Dissertation on Judith Butler entitled “Identities at Risk of Exclusion. Subversive Strategies of Social Transformation”. She has been an Assistant Professor at the University of Zaragoza (Spain), and is a member of the Research Group Justice, Citizenship, and Vulnerability (University of La Laguna, Spain). In addition to lectures and publications focusing on queer theory, she has written on new materialisms, global justice and posthuman critical theory.

HOW TO ACT TOGETHER? FROM COLLECTIVE ENGAGEMENT TO PROTEST

3rd International conference of the

Group for Social Engagement Studies, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory

Center for Advanced Studies in Southeastern Europe (CAS – SEE), University of Rijeka

How to Act together: From Collective Engagement to Protest

Belgrade, November 19-21, 2015

The conference explored the broad issue of action – in its various sociological and philosophical traditions – and the particular question of collective engagement in its contemporary forms of protest assemblies.

The question of action and human agency has been extensively debated in social theories of the 20th century. The pendulum moved many times from perspectives emphasizing social and economic determinants to those embracing human rationality, self-reflexivity and the ability to actively construct social reality. While some of the pioneer studies of action focused predominantly on micro-contexts and behavior of actors in concrete situations, the crucial question that social theory is facing today is how to once again shift the analysis from the level of individual action to the macrostructural one, i.e. the level of the ’behaviour of the social systems’ – a shift which would escape the simple structural determinism of action and offer at least a horizon of the possible synthesis of the two analytical planes. The issues that interest us most in this respect concern the prospects of articulating social critique and reconceptualizing the ’political’ from the perspective of individual and group action.

How does one conceptualize adequately the ’everyday’ action of individuals? What is the actual potential of concrete and engaged, albeit fragmented actions in bringing about general, systemic social change? Can social theory build on the actors’ own accounts of their action as the grounds for the critique of power and domination? Finally, could we say that social theory amounts to no more than a methodologically adequate description of the potential for social critique inherent in everyday social action, or can it be an independent constituent of social engagement that brings about progressive change?

The question of action and agency was given a new impetus with recent waves of popular protests ranging from the so-called Arab spring to Occupy movements to anti-austerity protests. We want to see how these acts of collective engagement could be analyzed and interpreted within different traditions of thinking about action. Reversely, we also want to explore different impacts these new forms of engagement may have on theories of action. In particular, we wishd to incite a debate on contemporary collective protests and theory of performativity, as it is advanced in Judith Butler’s forthcoming book (Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly), where it is revised to include “concerted actions of the body”. What are the ways in which physical bodies can act in politics? How are we (and are we?) transforming and influencing the public and the politics by employing embodied ways of coming together? Finally, is precarity (precarious bodies) becoming a dominant force of protest, as Butler argues, or, on the contrary, is it the very obstacle to systemic change (tantamounting to “reserve army of labour”)?

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