Terra Critica's 10th Anniversary Conference

Critical Transformations: Terra Critica 2.0

The conference marks the 10th anniversary of Terra Critica. Since 2012, the network examines the methodological stakes of critique. We work toward critical modes that take entanglement – messy and ongoing – as critique’s foundational condition today. Building on the past decade of work, but also resuming our meetings again after the pandemic-induced interruption since 2020, this conference starts us off into a new decade of Terra Critica, into new demands for thinking critique and for actively engaging in critical matters. We are compelled by a pressing question: How to go on as critical scholars in the once more changed academic landscape of the 2020s? But also, how to go on in a world altered by the pandemic, an accelerating climate catastrophe and the continued realities of war? What is the purpose of critical work in such a world and who is it done for? Yet, we also note, positively, that critique is in a different position today than it was a decade ago. Terra Critica‘s founding drive was to keep critique and the critical humanities on the agenda, at a time when the intensified neoliberalization of higher education and of societies at large seemed to be pushing any concern for critical interventions to the side. That is no longer the case. Critique is back as a core term and concern in contemporary debates.

With that momentum, we want to take Terra Critica forward into the 2020s and develop once more new forms of critique in the face of the urgencies that are felt pressingly. “We” (and we continue to ask, with Derrida and Wynter, “but who, we” (workshop 2015)) tentatively but more and more viscerally understand by now that we live in planetary systemic relationalities, co-dependent within ecologies of existence and extinction. The relational, ecological matters of living challenge once more the very practice of critique. Terra Critica has amply shown that critique is an entangled practice (Symptoms of the Planetary Condition 2017; The Ends of Critique 2022). But on that footing, we now have to ask: How does it move “us”? How can it bend (toxic) habits? Which moves to make in the face of critical urgency? Can critique help to carefully disentangle demagoguery and propaganda and imagine less destructive collective transformations?

Critical Transformations – Terra Critica 2.0 will combine workshop sessions in the mornings with public events in the afternoons. The morning sessions are based on shared readings and the position papers everyone contributes beforehand.


Participants (workshop sessions)

Michela Borzaga (Utrecht University)
Mercedes Bunz (King’s College London)
Valeria Campos Salvaterra (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso)
Ritu Chaudhuri (West Bengal State University)
Anirban Das (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta)
Kári Driscoll (Utrecht University)
Leila Essa (Utrecht University)
Susanne Ferwerda (Utrecht University)
Birgit M. Kaiser (Utrecht University)
Vicki Kirby (University of New South Wales)
Sophie LeGrain (Éditions D’Une)
Jacques Lezra (University of California, Riverside)
Sam McAuliffe (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Leonard Lawlor (Penn State University)
Jamila Mascat (Utrecht University)
Timothy O’Leary (University of New South Wales)
Müge Özoglu-Molenaar (Utrecht University)
Esther Peeren (University of Amsterdam)
Anna Poletti (Utrecht University)
Francesca Raimondi (Kunstakademie Düsseldorf)
Melanie Sehgal (University of Wuppertal)
Kathrin Thiele (Utrecht University)
Tjalling Valdés Olmos (University of Amsterdam)
Rolando Vasquez Melken (University College Utrecht)
Sybrandt van Keulen (University of Amsterdam)
Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor (Penn State University)
Shannon Winnubst (The Ohio State University)

Conference Programme

June 8, 2022

10.00-13.00 Terra Critica workshop – day I: Whose visions, and who are “we”?

position papers by Mercedes Bunz, Len Lawlor, Esther Peeren, Francesca Raimondi, Melanie Sehgal, Sybrandt van Keulen, and Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor
moderated by Kathrin Thiele

13.00-14.30 lunch break

14.30-15.45 Plenary meeting “Theory/Practice” (hybrid event)

an ongoing collaboration between Terra Critica and the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences Calcutta (CSSSC); moderated by Anirban Das (CSSSC)

16.15-18.00 Book launch (hybrid event) followed by reception

The Ends of Critique: Methods, Institutions, Politics, edited by K. Thiele, B.M. Kaiser, and T. O’Leary (R&L 2022)

with discussion contributions by Kiene Brillenburg Wurth (Utrecht University), Rosemarie Buikema (Utrecht University) and Ritu Chaudhuri (West Bengal State University)

moderated by Timothy O’Leary (University of New South Wales)

June 9, 2022

10.00-13.00 Terra Critica workshop – day II: How to inflect (infect, defect, deflect, refuse)?

position papers by Michela Borzaga, Valeria Campos Salvaterra, Ritu Chaudhuri, Kári Driscoll, Jacques Lezra, Anna Poletti, and Tjalling Valdés Olmos
moderated by Birgit M. Kaiser

June 10, 2022

10.00-13.00 Terra Critica workshop – day III: Can we look up (down, inside, away) and move?

position papers by Susanne Ferwerda, Birgit M. Kaiser, Vicki Kirby, Sam McAuliffe, Timothy O’Leary, Müge Özoglu-Molenaar, and Shannon Winnubst
moderated by Kathrin Thiele

13.30-15.00 lunch break

15.00-16.30 public lecture (hybrid event)

Valeria Campos Salvaterra (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso)

Cannibalism and parasitology: speculative food and eating with/the other in philosophy

with a response by Jacques Lezra (University of California, Riverside)

The talk wants to ‘infect’ us with a ‘defective’ figure, very unusual in traditional continental philosophy: that of eating, specially, of eating the other. Following some ideas that Jacques Derrida developed between the 70’s and the early 90’s, in published and unpublished works, Valeria Campos Salvaterra led us toward a certain ontology of relation present in Western philosophy of all times. This idea, according to which being is being-in-relation, can be extensively explained by a rare form of analogy, which relates the incorporation of food into the body to the process of idealization of the world, including the idealization of the other that is at the base of every form of community. From some kind of cannibalism present in Hegel’s system, signed by Derrida with the term ‘dialectophagie’, to a form of communion based on the biological model of the parasitic relation, the talk showed how eating is not just one metaphor among others for philosophy, but the performance of the very movement of metaphorization within philosophical discourse. Valeria Campos Salvaterra invited us to her table to see the critical threats, but also some very interesting opportunities, that follow from these ideas.

16.30-17.30 reception / closing of conference