On May 21st, 2020 at 10 AM we held our first “CAS SEE Weekly Seminar with Guests”, where we welcomed Adriana Cavarero who spoke about her latest work “Resurging Democracy”.

The Italian philosopher Adriana Cavarero is among the most influential feminist theorists in the international debate. Her latest book “Democrazia sorgiva. Note sul pensiero politico di Hannah Arendt” (Raffaello Cortina, 2019) draws the attention on the crucial notion of democracy, entering in a debate with several scholars, such as Zola, Canetti, Pasternak, and, particularly, Arendt. Using Arendt’s philosophical vocabulary, Cavarero identifies democracy as the primal experience of politics itself: “common space of mutual appearance where a plurality of unique human beings acts in concert”. Cavarero’s idea of democracy as a “source”, an “origin”, differs from Arendt’s account of vita activa, as it is grounded on the bodily presence of political subjects who depend on material facilities and on the reciprocal support of other subjects.

In the current times of populist politics, is there any room left for a truly democratic experience of political participation (the Arendtian “public happiness”)? Cavarero revisits several philosophical interpretations, interrogating democracy in light of recent political events and discussing also contemporary issues such as the idea of digital democracy.

The following extracts from the seminar were noted by our communications interns, Magdalini Spyridon, and Eleni Maria Sifaki, University of Crete.

  • Cavarero is an advocate of Hannah Arendt’s notion of democracy. Democracy is for her a procedure which can take place in the physical social space where every human being can express her/his uniqueness.
  • Another point discussed at the seminar was the notion of “felicita” or “felicity” which happens when we participate in collective actions and events like uprisings or demonstrations. Cavarero describes active participation as a truly bodily experience instead of the representation which is the most dominant political action and choice. This feeling of happiness is connected with natality, (re)birth, of creating something new from scratch.
  • For Cavarero, “Democrazia Sorgiva” or “Spring Democracy” is a concept correlated with the feelings of growing and blossoming. In this sense, the social space is fertile enough to bring new hopes and possibilities for our future. Her term “Pluryphony” is the way of collectively undertaking the performative exercise of politics.
  • Using Hannah Arendt’s quote “Public space is a space of appearance”, Adriana Cavarero stresses out the public space as essential because there, the development of democracy will take place in a vocative, bodily and emotional way.

Watch the CAS SEE Seminar with Adriana Cavarero:

[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilwU8o7QwzQ[/embedyt]