The fifth series of ReadingRoom was running from October 2018 to June 2019, engaging CPC: the interlocking systems of capitalism – patriarchy – colonialism.
ReadingRoom – Fifth Series
Reading Rosa, pink & other colors
In a lecture that Boaventura de Sousa Santos gave in Utrecht in May 2018 and that resonated with our fourth ReadingRoom series, he emphasized that the key oppressive vectors of our current world-habitat must be thought in conjunction. These key vectors are: capitalism – patriarchy – colonialism (CPC). To only critically engage and try to un/learn one, or even two of those dimensions while disregarding the third, is insufficient. They form a systemic weave. Hardly any work is better suited to explore those interwoven powers than that of economist, philosopher and anti-war activist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919). As this fifth series of ReadingRoom moved into 2019 – the centennial of her violent death – we embarked on an exploration of her thought and its afterlives. Luxemburg analyzed how a capitalist economy cannot sustain itself without simultaneous colonial expansion as well as a patriarchal societal foundation – an analysis that both builds on and transforms more classical Marxist or Leninist traditions. Her way of “reading capital” is a most powerful critical intervention, and thus we also see her as a model for enacting the practice of reading so dear to ReadingRoom.
The series closely looked at Rosa’s and other resonating writings to delve into a critical, collective, careful reading of the interlocking system of CPC. (Feminist) critical analyses of CPC are alive and future-looking, and we wanted to learn tools of resistance for the present from them. The fifth series of ReadingRoom was co-curated with Tjalling Valdés Olmos.
Session One: Wednesday, 31 October 2018
The first session embarked on reading Rosa, as the series’ title announced. We read Rosa Luxemburg’s analysis of capitalism – patriarchy – colonialism (CPC) and one of her thought’s contemporary echoes today. Readings for this session were:
- Rosa Luxemburg, chapter 26 “The Reproduction of Capital and its Social Setting” from her The Accumulation of Capital (1913) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/ (with recommended background: The Accumulation of Capital chapter 1 “The Object of our Investigation”)
- Silvia Federici, “The Reproduction of Labor Power in the Global Economy and the Unfinished Feminist Revolution (2008)”, in Revolution at Point Zero (2012)
Session Two: Tuesday, 11 December 2018
After reading Rosa Luxemburg together in our first session sparked great discussions, we continued with her also for the second session to dig a little deeper, but also include her more poetic voice as well as its resonances in art and activism. The session engaged with these readings:
A selection of her Letters from Prison
- Wronke Jan 15 1917
- Wronke April 19 1917
- Wronke May 2 1917
- Wronke May 19 1917
- Wronke July 20 1917
- Breslau, Mid Nov 1917
- Breslau mid Dec 1917
We also watched Margarete von Trotta’s biopic Rosa Luxemburg (1986, 1:58’’) @ https://archive.org/details/RosaLuxemburg and read Sean O’Toole’s piece from South Magazine @ https://www.documenta14.de/en/south/25212_memory_image_on_rosa_luxemburg_s_prison_letters_and_gender_violence.
Session Three: Tuesday, 19 March 2019
This session engaged with texts coming from thinkers of Black feminism and queer of color critique. With their help, we tackled the interlocking system of what we dubbed CPC. Readings for this session were:
- Cathy Cohen’s 1997 text “Punks, Bulldaggers, and Welfare Queens: The Radical Potential of Queer Politics?” in GLQ 3 (4): 437-465.
- Audre Lorde’s “Age Race Class and Sex” from Sister Outsider
- Chapter 23 from Audre Lorde’s Zami, a new spelling of my name
- Tourmaline’s Atlantic is a Sea of Bones (https://vimeo.com/245608125) – part of the Visual AIDS ALTERNATE ENDINGS, RADICAL BEGINNINGS 2017 exhibition.
Session Four: Wednesday, 24 April 2019
As CPC is our concern this year, this session looked at and critiqued “family” as one of its incubators. We selected the following readings to guide our discussion:
- Terre Thaemlitz, “Deproduction Part II: Admit It’s Killing You (And Leave) Sound/reading for Gay Porn”
- Rosa Luxemburg “Women’s Suffrage and Class Struggle” (1912) @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1912/05/12.htm
- Hortense Spiller Lecture “shades of intimacy” (to listen to beforehand)
- Gowri Vijayakumar, “There Was an Uproar: Reading the Arcane of Reproduction Through Sex Work in India” @ https://www.viewpointmag.com/2015/10/31/there-was-an-uproar-reading-the-arcane-of-reproduction-through-sex-work-in-india/
Guest session @ SALT Beyoglu Istanbul, 10 May 2019
in collaboration with Bogaziçi University and Eco-Ethical Encounters
This guest session was held in resoncance with the international conference Eco-Ethical Encounters, held at Bogaziçi University 7/8 May 2019. We exchanged thoughts about the fragile resistances & critical practices that are possible today, locally and in translocal solidarity. Based on shared readings, we thought collectively what these might teach us for our critical practices of living on a damaged planet. During the session, we watched clips from the film Nuclear alla Turca, a documentary film project by Can Candan. The readings for this session were:
Bengi Akbulut, Fikret Adaman and Murat Arsel “The Radioactive Inertia: Deciphering Turkey’s Anti-Nuclear Movement” in Fikred Adaman, Bengi Akbulut and Murat Arsel (eds.), Neoliberal Turkey and Its Discontents. Economic Policy and the Environment under Erdogan, London/New York: I.B. Tauris 2017, 175-190.
Karen Barad, “Troubling time/s and ecologies of nothingness: re-turning, re-membering, and facing the incalculable” New Formations 92 (2017): 56-86.
Kate Brown, “Marie Curie’s Fingerprint: Nuclear Spelunking in the Chernobyl Zone” in Anna Tsing, Heather Swanson, Elaine Gan and Nils Bubandt (eds.), Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet. Ghosts, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 2017, G33-G50.
Session Five: Tuesday, 18 June 2019
To round off our discussions of CPC for the season, we want to look at the following readings together, spanning reflections on the intersections of capitalism – patriarchy – colonialism from the 1890s to today:
- Koleka Putuma, selection from Collective Amnesia (uHlanga 2017)
- Anna Julia Cooper, “What are we worth?” (1892) from Cooper’s A Voice from the South (Oxford UP 1988), pages 228-286.
- Denise Ferreira da Silva, “Fractal thinking” (2016) in aCCeSsions @ https://accessions.org/article2/fractal-thinking/
- recommended reading: Rizvana Bradley’s response to Denise Ferreira da Silva’s text, “Poethics of the Open Boat” (2016) also in aCCeSsions @ https://accessions.org/article2/poethics-of-the-open-boat/