2017 Events

  • CRITICAL THEORY WORKING GROUP | Global Networks

    • 15 November, 2017, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    • 340 Moffitt Library, UC Berkeley
  • Please join us for the third meeting of the 2017-18 Critical Theory Working Group, which takes up the topic of “Global Networks.” The meeting will be co-facilitated by Bay Area artist and UC Berkeley PhD candidate Christian Nagler (Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies) and CUNY Graduate Center PhD candidate Elizabeth Sibilia (Department of […]

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  • This multi-day conference runs from November 7-9. The rise of populist movements in recent years raises questions about the challenges for liberal democracy and its basic institutional forms. For instance, what are “the ends” of democracy in a double sense: what are the ends of democracy, that is, its purposes and promises, but also, what […]

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  • Where Have All the Leaders Gone?

    Michael Hardt, Professor of Literature, Duke University

    • 26 October, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • We continue to witness each year the eruption of “leaderless” social movements. From North Africa and the Middle East to Europe, the Americas, and East Asia, movements have left journalists, political analysts, police forces, and governments disoriented and perplexed. Activists too have struggled to understand and evaluate the power and effectiveness of horizontal movements. Why […]

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  • Tissue of the World: On Stoic Sympathy

    Brooke Holmes, Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Classics, Princeton University

    • 24 October, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • The concept of cosmic sympathy, highly developed by the Stoics, is at once deeply foreign to us in its claims regarding a mind fully immanent in the world and intriguing, as we struggle anew with imagining communities that bring together humans and non-humans. This talk investigates the contours, the stakes, and the internal tensions of […]

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  • Foucault’s Enlightenment: Islamic Revolution and the Perils of Universal History

    • 19 October, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi examines Foucault’s writings on the Iranian Revolution as an attempt to write the history of the present without binding commitments to a teleological historiography. Is it possible for a people to envision and desire futures uncharted by already existing schemata of history? Is it possible to think of dignity, justice, and liberty outside […]

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  • CRITICAL THEORY WORKING GROUP | COLLABORATIONS, CO-OPERATIVES, COALITION-BUILDING | Questions of State

    • 18 October, 2017, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    • 340 Moffitt Library, UC Berkeley
  • Please join us for the second meeting of the 2017-18 Critical Theory Working Group, which takes up the topic of Questions of State. The meeting will be co-facilitated by Jasper Bernes (English, UC Berkeley) and Keith Feldman (Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley). These two scholars bring a wide range of expertise, from Marxist theory to comparative […]

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  • The Scandal of the Human

    Christopher Peterson, Associate Profesor, School of Humanities and Communications Arts, Western Sydney University

    • 14 September, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • According to many scholars of the nonhuman turn, the scandal of theory lies in its failure to decenter the human. The real scandal, however, is that we keep trying. Do we not risk denying the human—or rather the persistence of its phantasm—in our enthusiasm to mark a decisive “turn” toward the nonhuman? I argue that […]

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  • Critical Theory Working Group | Collaborations, Co-operatives, Coalition-Building | Collaboration Thinking

    • 13 September, 2017, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    • 340 Moffitt Library, UC Berkeley
  • Please join us for the first meeting of the 2017-18 Critical Theory Working Group, which takes up the topic of Collaboration Thinking. The meeting will be co-facilitated by UC Berkeley Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, Erin Greer, and Berkeley faculty in the Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies, Dr. Angela Marino. Between […]

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  • What Now? Political Thought at a Moment of Crisis (Day Two)

    • 08 September, 2017, 9:30 am - 6:00 pm
    • 223 Moses Hall
  • We are facing today extraordinary and unprecedented political challenges. To name the most pressing: an unchecked growth of the human population with its potential for large-scale migration, global displacement, and disruption; technological advances that are upending all our existing economic, political, and social arrangements; a merger of economic and political power that comes with a […]

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  • What Now? Political Thought at a Moment of Crisis (Day One)

    • 07 September, 2017, 9:30 am - 5:25 pm
    • 223 Moses Hall
  • We are facing today extraordinary and unprecedented political challenges. To name the most pressing: an unchecked growth of the human population with its potential for large-scale migration, global displacement, and disruption; technological advances that are upending all our existing economic, political, and social arrangements; a merger of economic and political power that comes with a […]

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  • Dancing in a Posthuman World: Material Bodies and New Alliances

    Marta Segarra, Research Professor, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France; Professor of Gender Studies and French Studies at Universitat de Barcelona, Spain; Visiting Scholar, the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, UC Berkeley

    • 05 September, 2017, 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    • Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley
  • Marta Segarra’s lecture will consider how some beings are relegated to the external margins of the community and reduced to an anonymous mass, which is often more related to animality than to humanity. From an ecofeminist and posthuman perspective, it will also examine the possibility of a reformulation of the human community beyond the “family.” […]

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  • Between the Scholar and the Public Intellectual: The University in the Contemporary African Context

    Mahmood Mamdani, Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research, Makerere University, Uganda; Visiting Scholar, the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs

    • 10 May, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley
  • Mahmood Mamdani is Director of Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR) at Makere University in Uganda. He received his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University. Mamdani is Herbert Lehman Professor of Government in the Department of Anthropology and Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where he was also […]

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  • Critical Theory in Times of Crisis Working Group | Asian Socialism, Magical Realism: What was Global Maoism?

    Colleen Lye, Associate Professor English, UC Berkeley

    • 27 April, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • In an Arrighi-inspired model of literary history, Jed Esty has recently argued that periods of imperial crisis have also been periods in literature of “realism wars.” This account forces us to reconsider not only the question of whether postmodernism was the ascendant aesthetic of the 70s but also the question of whether postmodernism was in […]

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  • A Critical Theory of Justice

    Rainer Forst, Professor of Political Theory and Philosophy, Goethe Universität, Frankfurt

    • 13 April, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley
  • In this lecture, Forst will reflect on some of the basic issues for a critical theory of justice. What are the basic normative concepts for such an approach, and does it proceed by way of immanent critique? What kind of social realism is required for it to be sociologically grounded? What notion of emancipation is […]

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  • Critical Theory in Times of Crisis Working Group | Historical Gestures in the Cinematic Present | A Talk by Noa Steimatsky

    Noa Steimatsky, Visiting Associate Professor of Italian Studies, UC Berkeley

    • 12 April, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • In the flexible realms of cinematic time and movement, in oceans of contingent detail and the overwhelming expressivity of bodies and gestures—does history risk drowning in sensory response, in ritualistic absorption, in pleasure or in shock? The experience of presentness of the screened, time-based moving image can be maneuvered and intensified in ways that cut […]

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  • Recognition and Affirmation of Afro-Brazilian History and Culture through Rap: a Debate on the Emancipation of Consciousness and the Identity Formation of Black Youth in Brazil

    Mônica Amaral, Associate Professor of Psychoanalysis, Education and Culture at the Faculty of Education, University of São Paulo, Brazil

    • 16 March, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • I have recently revised this talk to better engage recent discussions among the faculty and graduate students of The Program in Critical Theory. Rather than presenting the results of my research into the schools of São Paulo, Brazil, I will consider the potential emancipation of rap music and music videos, inspired in this reflection by […]

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  • Spinoza’s Tragic Resources

    Russ Leo, Assistant Professor of English, Princeton University

    • 13 March, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • D37 Hearst Field Annex
  • Russ Leo will present his research on the intersections between poetic and philosophical experiments in Anglo-Dutch contexts across the 1650s, 60s, and 70s, particularly the ways one might place Milton and Spinoza in conversation. This involves attention to Spinoza’s contributions to literary culture in Amsterdam and the Netherlands at large, as well as his debts […]

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  • Critical Theory in Times of Crisis Working Group | Critical Theory and Sociopolitical Crisis: Then; and Then; and Now?

    Robert Kaufman, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley

    • 06 March, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 3401 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • A discussion initiated by the Critical Theory in Times of Crisis Working Group, considering how Frankfurt School and related currents in critical theory have approached, adapted, and rethought the intellectual and practical aspects of their work in, and on, crises generated by authoritarian, fascist, and fascist-oriented movements (paying particular attention to the 1930s-40s; the late […]

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  • To Be the Owner of My Own Person: Toward a Concept of Freedom as Heteronomy Without Servitude

    Vladimir Safatle, Professor and Director of Research, Department of Philosophy and Institute of Psychology, Universidade de São Paulo

    • 28 February, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley
  • Today autonomy, defined as self-legislation and self-determination, appears to be a precondition of freedom. Autonomy is widely accepted as the normative horizon of claims for social emancipation and psychological maturity. Nevertheless, this understanding of autonomy depends on a fundamental metaphysical presupposition that must be submitted to criticism. This presupposition follows from the belief that the […]

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  • Workshop: Michael Ralph Discusses Forensics of Capital

    Michael Ralph, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU

    • 28 February, 2017, 1:30 pm - 3:30 pm
    • 820 Barrows Hall
  • In this workshop Michael Ralph will discuss his recent book Forensics of Capital (University of Chicago Press, 2015). This workshop is organized by The Townsend Center Working Group on Labour, Philosophy and Change with support from a Townsend Center for the Humanities Lecture Grant, the Center for African Studies and The Program in Critical Theory. […]

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  • The Origin of Convict Leasing: Slavery and Incarceration in Kentucky

    Michael Ralph, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Cultural Analysis, NYU

    • 27 February, 2017, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
    • 470 Stephens Hall
  • “I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game.” —President Abraham Lincoln In this talk, I suggest that convict leasing did not begin with formerly enslaved African Americans in the years following emancipation, as the scholarly consensus suggests. It began in the antebellum era with white inmates at the […]

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  • Syncing… Subject, Media, Society: 25th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference

    • 25 February, 2017, 10:00 am - 5:30 pm
    • 370 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • “Not all people exist in the same Now,” claimed Ernst Bloch in his seminal 1932 book Erbschaft dieser Zeit (“Heritage of Our Times”). The rhythms of modernity had fractured society into isolated temporal worlds. While individuals occupied the same space, he argued, they lived ungleichzeitig—out of sync. Synchronism speaks to a temporal relation, a shared […]

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  • Syncing… Subject, Media, Society: 25th Annual Interdisciplinary German Studies Conference

    • 24 February, 2017, 10:00 am - 7:30 pm
    • 3335 Dwinelle Hall, UC Berkeley
  • “Not all people exist in the same Now,” claimed Ernst Bloch in his seminal 1932 book Erbschaft dieser Zeit (“Heritage of Our Times”). The rhythms of modernity had fractured society into isolated temporal worlds. While individuals occupied the same space, he argued, they lived ungleichzeitig—out of sync. Synchronism speaks to a temporal relation, a shared […]

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  • Cleverness and Drive, or the Cybernetic Fantasy of Value: R.S. Hunt’s “Two Kinds of Work”

    Seb Franklin, Lecturer in Contemporary Literature, King's College London

    • 22 February, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 470 Stephens Hall
  • In January 1951, R.S. Hunt—a British technical editor and former chemist without any university degree or diploma—sent a manuscript titled “Two Kinds of Work” to the mathematician Norbert Wiener, who did not read it. Hunt’s manuscript promises to “put metaphysics within the scope of physics.” And it claims to do so by making “such quantities […]

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  • Designated Emphasis Open House and Information Session

    • 09 February, 2017, 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
    • 340 Moffitt Library, UC Berkeley
  • Join The Program in Critical Theory’s faculty and students for a panel discussion and Q&A about the Designated Emphasis (DE) in Critical Theory. All UC Berkeley Ph.D. students interested in applying to the DE are invited to attend. Refreshments and informal social to follow. The Program in Critical Theory’s DE enables graduate students already enrolled […]

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  • Towards a Romantic Anthropology: River Life and Climate Change in Bangladesh

    Naveeda Khan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University

    • 24 January, 2017, 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
    • 470 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley
  • There is a quality of the chimerical to the silt islands that form and dissolve within the Jamuna River. Life on the islands never quite settles; the ground is constantly turned up, shifting, moving, and reforming elsewhere, a condition which inevitably grounds a particularly striking relationship with Nature. In this talk, I want think with […]

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  • Benjamin, Kafka, and Theology

    • 24 January, 2017, 2:30 pm - 7:00 pm
    • Geballe Room, 220 Stephens Hall, UC Berkeley
  • This two-session conference explores theology in Benjamin and Kafka. The first session, moderated by Karen Feldman, includes paper presentations by Gilad Sharvit and Vivian Liska, with a response by Niklaus Largier. The second session is a conversation between Robert Alter and Chana Kronfeld. Program: 2:30-4:30 pm: Session 1 Moderator: Karen Feldman Gilad Sharvit, “Exile and […]

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