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Monatsarchiv für August 2016

Summer School 2016 – Abstracts Morning Lectures
12. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

Visible and invisible borderlands – art history’s unresolved epistemic frontiers

Monica Juneja

My talk takes its cue from Etienne Balibar’s designation of a border as something that goes beyond being a mere boundary between two states, rather performs a “world-configuring function”. In what ways does the notion of a border become a “condition of possibility” for the proliferation of boundaries as modes of producing authoritative knowledge? One important domain of such knowledge has been art history that, participating in and even constitutive of processes of nation building, was conceived of as a path to understand and account for the particularities of “national cultures”. My talk engages with these epistemic foundations and early histories of the discipline at a profoundly global conjuncture as it negotiated a dialectic of crossing and redefining boundaries. From the strivings of early “world art histories” (Weltkunstgeschichte) to encompass a new and ever-increasing diversity of objects that had made their way from regions of the world to Europe and confronted museums, curators, publics and not least a discipline fixated on Classical Antiquity with fresh challenges, I look at the way concepts of modernist art history get appropriated, re-configured and also reaffirmed as the discipline migrates beyond Europe to colonies and young post-colonial nations. I argue that this exercise assumes an urgency in contemporary times as art history strives once again to become “global”, carried by the euphoria of dissolving borders and a shared art world generated by contemporary art and the “excess visibility” (Jean Fisher) it accords to cultural difference. To what extent does the “intimate proximity” (Okwui Enwezor) induced by the global contemporary eschew an engagement with art history’s unresolved epistemic frontiers and what would be the logical consequences of a transcultural art history that worked to replace inherited notions of culture and the art historical apparatus that rests on them with more dynamic models of identities constituted through transborder relationships?


Summer School 2016 – Abstracts Morning Lectures
8. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

Global Borders

Sandro Mezzadra

Many studies have mapped in recent years the proliferation and the increasing relevance of borders in the contemporary world. Far from taking this sheer fact as an argument against “globalization” the lecture will show that borders are currently crucial devices in the articulation of really existing global processes. The point will be made that the border itself provides a privileged angle on the production of global space and time, as well as on the nature of contemporary capitalism and the production of subjectivity that characterizes it. The lecture will start by highlighting the constitutive role played by borders in the origin and development of a world system dominated by state and capital. I will then analyze from the point of view of the shifting shape and functions of the very institute of the border the multiple transitions characterizing the present. I will elaborate upon some key concepts forged in critical border studies to make sense of these transitions – ranging from “differential inclusion” to “internal borders”, from “border regime” to “border struggles”. Against the background provided by these concepts the lecture will end with a discussion of the current developments of the crisis of the European border regime since the “summer of migration” in 2015.


Summer School 2016 – Abstracts Morning Lectures
8. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

The Tides of Babylon: The Apocalypse of Territoriality in Melville and D’Annunzio

Bernhard Siegert

Babylon is the name of the triangle between the founding (and the stabilizing) of a collective, the symbolic (as law), and the elementary space of the sea. In the Revelation of John Babylon is called the “the great harlot who sits on many waters”, who will be annihilated by the coming of the New Jerusalem. At the beginning of modernity – in Herman Melville’s Confidence Man – as well as around 1900 – in Gabriele D’Annunzio’s La Nave (but also in authors like Kafka et al.) – the Apocalypse is revisited in different ways, which represent alternative models of reflection of what Carl Schmitt diagnosed in 1950 as crisis of the European Nomos.

The thesis from which I depart is, that the construction of meaning is dependent on the historical conditions of possibility to operationalize the distinction between land, sea, and air (and the “ether”), to translate that distinction in anthropological, religious, and political knowledge, to transgress it, to negate it, and to re-enact it within technical media. In so-called “modernity” the constructedness and contingency of meaning becomes a part of culture; referentiality appears as mediated by technology; the coupling between signifiers and signifieds is no longer guaranteed by the Great Other but is related to a technical process of articulation and hence to some original formless, which discovers its own cosmological prototype by revoking the distinction between land and sea.

Both, Melville and D’Annunzio, depart from a crisis of the land-sea-distinction when conceiving of the frontier society or the political community – a crisis which gives rise to an immense movement of deterritorialization. Melville’s last novel interprets the frontier between the territory of the US and the terra nullius as the limits of an ontologically secured territoriality, which once guaranteed the stability of sign relations and identities; whereas D’Annunzio’s literature pursues the program of an imperial re-territorialization in the name of a renovated Mare Nostrum.

The reflection of the culture-technical backgrounds of these apocalyptic models, which are so deeply rooted in Western culture, appears to be exigent in our present times as we are told that Europe’s external borders have stopped to exist, and old legal- and geo-political concepts loom in the background of the current discussion on the Decline of the West: mare nostrum, res omnium, terra nullius and the New Nomos of the Sea.


Summer School 2016 – Abstracts Morning Lectures
8. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

Who are “we”? A global text in 1600

Mary Fuller

I will be speaking about Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1600) –an enormous and diverse collection of travel writing and related documents published at the end of Elizabeth I’s reign. The contents of the collection document movement into regions and contact with populations that were new to participants, authors, and contemporary audiences: Africa, the Arctic, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific. They evidence the translation of practice into discourse, and theory into practice. Finally, the editor’s delineation of spatial regions as discrete paratextual categories offers evidence of the ways spaces and populations were being conceptualized, in a work that has long been regarded as among the founding documents of an English national identity grounded in an imperial relation to the rest of the world. My work explores how literary methods can most productively be applied to materials emerging from in historical experience and from non-narrative practices of writing as recording: how can we best read this collection, as textual analysts? I’m especially interested at present in the ways collective identities are shaped, reshaped, and articulated in and across the documents that make up the book, from the micro-level of individual ships’ companies to the macro-level of nation and confession; this topic will be the focus of my talk.


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