Haus der Kulturen der Welt: Now is the Time of Monsters

Photo: Lonneke van der Palen – Souvenir 

Now is the Time of Monsters – What Comes After Nations?

The present moment is marked by one central political idea: the nation-state. It installs itself through a system of nation-states and a corresponding global framework that originated from a new world order after the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. Since then, it has become so deeply embedded in our thinking that alternative forms of political organization have become practically unimaginable. By laying bare the framing conditions of the nation-state, their exclusionary mechanisms and the structural violence anchored within them, Now is the Time of Monsters picks up a phrase from Antonio Gramsci’s prison notebooks to open up a space for the decisive question: How can one think beyond the limits of the nation-state system? From March 23-25, 2017 international artists, theorists, and writers will expose the structural inadequacies of the nation-state system in presentations, lecture-performances, discussions, and conversations, tracking down opposing movements and drawing a portrait of how the state is currently conceived.

Four thematic sections structure the three days: The Nation-State System. The Abandoned Futures in the Era of Nations asks how the nation-state managed to replace all other ideas of political organization and what has gone lost in this process. The historian Cemil Aydin looks at the transition from empire to nation from a non-Western perspective. Writer Ann Cotten asks which language one might use in order to speak about the nation-state. In a performance devised by the artist Kudzanai Chiurai, he takes up the synchronized past and present of (post) colonialism, looking for possibilities for an emancipatory future. The historian Marcus Rediker and the playwright Naomi Wallace examine how struggles from below have been a source of creativity and power for an order beyond the nation-state for centuries.

The Standard of Civilization. Asymmetries of the International System addresses inequality and global power asymmetries in international systems of state and law. International law scholar Antony T. Anghie, artist and cultural theorist Brigitta Kuster, and anthropologist David Scott provide close readings of this History of Continuity. An installation by the artist Christian Nyampeta allows the audience to experience the historical process while making room for opposing ways of reading. War and Law, with the writer Slavenka Drakulić, the sociologist Avery F. Gordon, and the legal scholar and lawyer Ramzi Kassem aims to fundamentally challenge the humanitarian project claimed by the law on war by laying bare the asymmetry and violence that is reproduced within its legal frame. In From “the Right to Trade” to “Good Governance” author In Koli Jean Bofane, legal scholar and writer Lawrence Liang, and globalization critic Susan George examine the institutions of the international system that have been maintaining unequal economic relations for centuries–today through stipulations for development aid, debt systems, and the exploitation of resources.

What does it mean to speak of migration today? How are rights - the right to have rights- treated in contrast to (national) law? And how does migration allow us to call political structures into question and to think about them in radically different ways? In Migration. A Political Movement these questions are tackled by political scientists Sandro Mezzadra and Kim Rygiel, writer and jazz pianist Zoran Terzić, and artists Patrick Bernier and Olive Martin.

State Technologies. A Portrait of Contemporary Power deals with contemporary transformations of the nation-state system due to the growing influence of technology and global financial circuits. In six in-depth explorations the participants will focus on the state technologies infrastructure, finance, data, management, violence, and democracy. Author Samar Yazbek speaks about Syria, which has, like so many countries, internalized the conflict as history. The sociologist and legal scholar Boaventura de Sousa Santos looks at the legacy of the European nation-state from the Global South. What new solidarities and commonalities, parties and movements are emerging from this perspective?

In a series of Conversations the participants expand the current questions on the nation-state system: Which humans have human rights? What are the state’s constituencies: the demands of international finance or the concerns of the population? How can the future be liberated from the past – and vice versa?

With: Antony T. Anghie, Arjun Appadurai, Cemil Aydin, Patrick Bernier & Olive Martin, In Koli Jean Bofane, Kudzanai Chiurai, cinéma copains (Arne Hector & Minze Tummescheit), Ann Cotten, Slavenka Drakulić, Keller Easterling, Susan George, Avery F. Gordon, Bernd Kasparek, Ramzi Kassem, Brigitta Kuster, Lawrence Liang, Charles Lim Yi Yong, Sandro Mezzadra, Christian Nyampeta, Marcus Rediker, Kim Rygiel, Isabelle Saint-Saëns, David Scott, Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Felix Stalder, Hito Steyerl, Zoran Terzić, Naomi Wallace and Samar Yazbek. Curated by Rana Dasgupta, Nanna Heidenreich and Katrin Klingan

Tickets and events:
Opening: March 23, 2017, 7:00 pm, Auditorium. Admission free
March 24/25, 2017 12:00–11:00 pm, Auditorium and Foyer, day pass 9€/6€, afternoon pass (12:00-5:00) / evening pass (5:00-11:00) each 6€/4€
March 24/25.3.2017, Conversations, Foyer. Free admission

Part of 100 Years of Now
Haus der Kulturen der Welt is supported by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media as well as by the Federal Foreign Office.

Further info.

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