VIOLENCE: Dictionary of Now #6

How is violence inscribed in practices and languages of postcolonial societies? What does the illusion of a “post-racial” age reveal about the effect structures and camouflage tactics of racist hierarchies of violence? In Dictionary of Now #6, three leading thinkers of post-colonial theory, philosopher David Theo Goldberg, political scientist and philosopher Achille Mbembe and author Taiye Selasi, will discuss the term VIOLENCE. Against the backdrop of historic developments, continuities and rifts, they will analyze the increasing normalization of racial violence and the correlations between systemic violence and racist ideologies.

A short story developed for the evening by Taiye Selasi on mechanisms of “othering” and rebellion against this form of racist demarcation is the starting point of the discussion and basis of the contributions by Goldberg and Mbembe. Her novel Ghana Must Go (2013), a cosmopolitan family saga about young Afropolitans, made her world-famous. Using a narrative image series, at HKW (Haus der Kulturen der Welt) Selasi interconnects personal and societal experiences of violence. David Theo Goldberg examines persistent structural violence in post-colonial societies, exploring the deceptive paradox of a “post-racial” age. He is the Director of the Humanities Research Institute, and the Executive Director of the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California and a member of HKW’s Program Advisory Board. His analyses reveal the close interweaving of racism and systemic, hierarchic, social structures. The outbreak of violent conflicts within the nexus of capitalism and decolonization is the subject of the analysis of Achille Mbembe, who traces a genealogy of racial violence. He is one of the most influential pioneers of post-colonialism and teaches at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg after professorships at Columbia University, the University of California, Yale University and others. He has spoken on previous occasions at HKW, such as the 2012 exhibition ‘Chronicle of a Revolt’.

At the event, the legitimation patterns of violence will be discussed as well as the question of the existence of “legitimate” violence in the context of emancipation movements such as Négritude and Black Lives Matter. The concept of Afropolitanism co-conceived by Mbembe and taken up by Selasi will be considered against the backdrop of “violence” as a concept of racist structures and practices of post-colonial societies.

In the Dictionary of Now series (2015-2018) well-known representatives of the sciences and the arts, from theory and practice, question established meanings of words and update them based on their respective fields of expertise. For each term, various positions will have their say and then be discussed in depth in a conversation with Bernd Scherer, director of HKW. A publication will compile the key words and contributions of each edition and will be issued at the end of the 100 Years of Now project in 2018.

The Dictionary of Now is part of 100 Years of Now. Haus der Kulturen der Welt is funded by the German Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media and the German Foreign Ministry.

Reading, talks and discussion
Dictionary of Now #6 VIOLENCE
Thursday, May 11, 2017, 7 pm
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
with David Theo Goldberg, Achille Mbembe, Taiye Selasi

Press Contact:
Anne Maier
Head of Press
Haus der Kulturen der Welt
John-Foster-Dulles-Allee 10
D-10557 Berlin
tel. +49 (0)30 39787.153/196
fax +49 (0)30 3948679

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