Panel 1 . Queer Theory & Geopolitics
Antke Engel, Silvia Posocco, Rahul Rao; Moderation: Victoria Browne
Panel 2 . Pedagogization
David Blacker, Matthew Charles, Nora Sternfeld; Moderation: David Cunningham
Queer Theory & Geopolitics
The canon of queer theory has been questioned recently as a conceptual and interpretative framework that has become a “mandatory” reference point in European and Anglophone discourse. How are queer theorists from various localities confronting regimes of citizenship, rights, colonialism, imperialism, nationalism, imprisonment and war from within different geopolitical contexts? How is queer theory itself being transformed in the process?
In the early 1990s Gerald Graff predicted a “redirection of theoretical attention to issues of education and pedagogy,” a movement beyond the “cultural turn.” To what extent does the emergence of what has been characterized as an “educational turn” in art and art theory belatedly relate to this? Are we witnessing a “pedagogical turn” today? If so, does this indicate a capitulation to the process or rather the site of a potential resistance?
Rahul Rao: Capitalism and Homophobia
The links between capitalism and homophobia have been undertheorized in recent work on homophobia, which has tended to focus on nation/empire, race, religion and other forms of identity. This talk begins by revisiting the well-known debate between Nancy Fraser and Judith Butler over the relative priority of redistribution and recognition in struggles against heterosexism, with a view to criticising Fraser's continued failure to acknowledge the salience of maldistributive injustice in heterosexism. It then turns to contemporary discourses of homophobia in Uganda to demonstrate the salience of material precarity in motivating homophobic affect. In conclusion, it considers whether recent efforts to think through the links between homophobia and economic growth by leading institutions of contemporary global capitalism, such as the World Bank and The Economist, take seriously the links between capitalism and homophobia in ways that might have progressive potential.
Antke Engel: The Sexual Political: Desiring queer politics of paradox
Rather than feeding into a legitimizing discourse and explaining why queer theory is political, I will turn the tables and argue that we need a political that is queer. ‘The sexual political’ claims to revise the political through the constitutive role of desire. Queer theories of desire undermine the subject/object distinction that commonly introduces the gendered or racialized hierarchy of desire, and instead open up space for irreducible difference, ecstatic selves, and queer socialities. Drawing on what I call the queer politics of paradox, I connect desire and the political through a paradoxical dynamic of irresolvable tension. These abstract ideas will be put to the test by reflecting upon the project ‘Gender, Violence, and Visual Activism’, which engages artists and activists from South Africa and Germany in figuring out queer modes of fighting violence.
Silvia Posocco: Queer Necropolitics: Everyday Death Worlds and Shifting Domains of Struggle
In the Prologue to the collection of essays Queer Necropolitics (2014), Sunera Thobani argues that ‘The Empire of Terror offers a stark choice to its objects of power: incorporation or extermination. Its forms of sovereignty intend the taking of no survivors: loyalty or death. From a range of geopolitical locations, the analytics of ‘queer necropolitics’ foreground the importance of interrogating claims to queerness in the context of ongoing processes of colonization, occupation, dispossession and genocide. They bring into focus regimes of attribution of liveliness and deadliness of subjects, bodies, communities and populations and their instantiation through performatives of gender, sexuality and kinship, as well as through processes of confinement, removal and exhaustion. They connect the queerness of everyday death worlds to shifting domains of struggle.
David J. Blacker: Educational Hysteria
The contemporary tendency to advance educational solutions to large and apparently intractable societal problems (e.g., poverty, environment, public health, crime) may itself be treated as part of a symptomatology. There is a rule of thumb in media criticism that whatever the advertising message, the truth of the matter is most likely the opposite, otherwise, why the need to advertise? (See: BP presented as an eco-friendly ally of Gulf of Mexico communities.) Education seems to function much the same way, as a marker of social futility where hands are essentially thrown up and answers are unforthcoming. This paper explores the legitimation role played by education in modern societies – an at times near-hysterical attempt to manage an internal rationality that patrols the borders of "responsible" discourse. The political Left has often played unwittingly into this "educational hysteria" as much as anyone else, until recently. There are hopeful signs pointing, at long last, toward the de-legitimation of this strategy. Amidst the enormity of it all, this is a hopeful development.
Matthew Charles: The Pedagogization of Politics or…? (Benjamin Reloaded)
Recent work in the history of education has described how a process of pedagogization was central to the modernizing projects of capitalist imperialism. Yet whilst today the ideal of public education seems under increasing threat in the Global North, aspirations to achieve a “totally pedagogized society” (Bernstein) – now associated with privatized forms of mass, flexible, distant and lifelong learning – have not diminished. How might these contemporary conditions reconnect with the stark alternative diagnosed in the conclusion to Walter Benjamin’s ‘Work of Art’ essay, framed in response to the attended crisis of mass politics and culture as a choice between the aestheticization of politics or the politicization of aesthetics? Conversely, how should Benjamin’s notion of “politicization” be read today, in the era of a realization of productivism, not in the service of egalitarian politics, but rather the business model of new social media in the creative economies of cultural capitalism? Connecting Benjamin’s philosophy to contemporary accounts of pedagogization, this paper suggests that answering these questions requires the construction of a transdisciplinary concept of pedagogization.
Nora Sternfeld: What’s the Point? Unruly Agencies in Education, Art and Research
Paulo Freire refers to a fundamental decision with regard to every educational project, of the need to take a stand, to introduce a set of beliefs and, rather than assuming their disinterested neutrality, consciously take them through the process of education. He locates this process as “tactically inside and strategically outside” the system. However, while Freire could still assume it was possible to work like this, today, within a globalized neoliberalism, we have to ask ourselves what that could mean if we can no longer assume any form of “outside". One concept that is definitely related to both sides – the capitalist one and the anticapitalist one – is change. Rather than denying the emancipatory value of "changing society" as a basis for radical knowledge production under those circumstances, we have to come to terms with the fact that it might be both critical of and complicit with capitalism. This means that even if key words such as ‘artistic knowledge production’ or ‘practice based research’ have become ubiquitous in the artistic and curatorial field, there is a long tradition of dissident knowledges. This paper will have a look at different artistic strategies, practices and processes of radical education that confront the canon.