ReadingRoom – third series

The third series of ReadingRoom ran from September 2016 until May 2017, entitled WHO CARES? – Politics and Poetics in the Affirmative. The series explored affirmation as a poetico-political tool to pass from opposition and negation to space-opening refusal – a bending of powers in new ways and in hope for greater generosity and gentleness, staying engaged and implicated with-in the world. Our question was “Who cares?” – but in the affirmative and we studied spaces of education, activism and art, feminist, decolonial and aesthetic interventions, different pedagogies, poetics and politics. What are and could be the temporalities of affirmation in the here and now?

Session One: Wednesday, 28 Sept 2016

We started by studying the #FeesMustFall movement and read in that context Aimé Césaire’s “Poetry and Knowledge” (1948); Fred Moten and Stefano Harney’s “The University and The Undercommons” (Undercommons 2013); and Achille Mbembe’s “Decolonizing the University” (2016).

Session Two: Wednesday, 2 Nov 2016

We continued with a focus on radical pedagogies and alternative knowledge, especially looking at the project of the University of Paris-Vincennes in the 1970s and 1980s. Our readings were the interview by Constantin V. Boundas with Anne Querrien (“La Borde, Guattari and Left Movements in France, 1965–81” Deleuze Studies 2016), parts of Hélène Cixous’s Rootprints. Memory and Life Writing (1997) and the list of the students’ “21 conditions” for the university (1968). Our guests for that session were Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson.

A week before, we screened their film Facs of Life (2009). The screening was accompanied by their texts “What Lies Between” and the blog text they kept at the time of filming.

Session Three: Wednesday, 7 Dec 2016

Our readings were inspired by Alex Martinis Roe’s exhibition To Become Two @ Casco. Alex also joined us as a guest in this session and we looked into sexual difference feminism and the ‘unthought’ of racial difference. Readings were excerpts from The Milan Women’s Bookstore Collective’s publication Sexual Difference, A Theory of Social-Symbolic Practice (1990); Teresa De Lauretis foreword to this book; and Saidiya Hartman & Frank Wilderson “The Position of the Unthought” (Qui Parle 2003).

Session Four: Wednesday, 8 Feb 2017

This time we explored decolonial critiques of modernity, Andean philosophy and modes of archiving resistance, with our special guest Rolando Vázquez, Assistant Professor of Sociology at University College Roosevelt. We read Suley Rolnik’s “Archive Mania/Archivmanie” (dOCUMENTA (13) 22); Rolando Vázquez’s “Towards a Decolonial Critique of Modernity – Buen Vivir, Relationality, and the Task of Listening” (in Fornet-Betancourt’s Capital, Poverty, Development, Denktraditionen im Dialog: Studien zur Befreiung und Interkulturalität); and Josef Estermann’s “Andean Philosophy as a Questioning Alterity: An Intercultural Criticism of Western Andro- and Ethnocentrism” (in Note and Fornet-Betancourt’s, Worldviews and Cultures, Philosophical Reflections from an Intercultural Perspective).

Session Five: Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Our last session continued with decolonial critiques of modernity, this time more by route of its multi-sensory dimensions, questions of accountability and/as living “life in capitalist ruins”. Natasha Myers, Associate Professor of Anthropology at York University, Toronto, joined us as special guest and also accompanied our session with visual material on her work with the Oak Savannah, Toronto. Our readings were excerpts from Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins; Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s “Land as Pedagogy: Nishnaabeg Intelligence and Rebellious Transformation” (Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 2014); and Natasha Myers’s “Becoming Sensor in Sentient Worlds: A More-than-Natural History of a Black Oak Savannah” (in Gretchen Bakke and Marina Peterson’s Towards an Artful Anthropology).