The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths University of London

Research Centre run jointly between the Departments of Sociology and English and Comparative Literature at Goldsmiths University, London


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CPCT Research Seminar 2021-22: What is Global Critical Theory?

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought is pleased to announce the theme of this year’s Research Seminar: “What is Global Critical Theory?”

The history of critical theory is one of migration and displacement of ideas – of travelling and exiled theory – but to date it has all too often been written as a story of the afterlife of the European Enlightenment. There is a growing research interest in the global reach of critical theory but its emphasis has often been skewed towards the applicability of ideas to local contexts, or to regional and area studies of specific social and political phenomena. This seminar seeks to begin to pose the problem of a ‘global critical theory’ by undertaking a series of soundings of conceptual debates emerging in different locales and conjunctures that foreground the non-Western genesis of crucial problems of contemporary critical theory, as well as the situated problematisation of the forms of historical difference and unevenness that mark the travels of critical theory. The seminar will touch, inter alia, on Caribbean and Latin American debates on the short-circuits, ‘misencounters’ (desencuentros) and misplacements between critical concepts in Europe and the Americas, and their aesthetic figurations in the periodisation of the Baroque and the conceptual persona that is Caliban; explore the uptake by Levantine Marxist intellectuals of Said’s Orientalism; investigate the oft-overlooked contributions of Vietnamese philosophers Trần Đức Thảo to postwar phenomenology and deconstruction, and Nguyễn Khắc Viện to global Marxism; and inquire into the critical theories of fascism originating in interwar Japan. 

Free and open to the public, as always. Convened by Alberto Toscano (a.toscano [at] gold.ac.uk) and Julia Ng (j.ng [at] gold.ac.uk)

Register here: https://gold-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_t5RX4pGtQEiGxD9VthSSGg

For a detailed session plan including further readings and links to PDFS, please visit https://cpct.uk/2021-2022/.


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Goldsmiths Undergraduate Philosophy Circle 2021-22

Theme ’21-’22: Thinking through Nature & the Climate Crisis with
Non-Western Philosophies

The Goldsmiths Undergraduate Philosophy Circle is open to all Goldsmiths students interested in reading and discussing philosophical texts together. 

The first two terms will be devoted to exploring key readings on this year’s topic, while the third term will be reserved for participants to self-organise an event related to the theme. The format of the meetings is an open discussion for around 2 hours with a break in the middle. The discussion is usually introduced by a volunteer who speaks on the text and the author for around 5-10 minutes. Conceived as an informal gathering, everyone should feel free to contribute as much as they like.

To join the group and receive the materials in advance (shared via Google Drive), please email s.bromberg@gold.ac.uk.

Meetings: on Fridays, 4-6pm; 3 x Autumn Term; 4 x Spring Term (see dates below)

Location: TBD

Convenor: Svenja Bromberg (Lecturer in Sociology), s.bromberg [at] gold.ac.uk

For more information, please visit https://cpct.uk/ug-2021-2022/.


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PUBLICATION: Toward the Critique of Violence: A Critical Edition by Walter Benjamin, Edited by Peter Fenves and Julia Ng

We’re pleased to announce a new publication that might be of interest to you: 


Toward the Critique of Violence
A Critical Edition
Walter Benjamin
Edited by Peter Fenves and Julia Ng


If outside the Americas (UK/Europe/Middle East and Africa/Asia-Pacific), apply the code CSV21TTCOV to receive a 30% discount when ordering from combinedacademic.co.uk or use this link

* * *
“This translation places before English readers for the first time the most comprehensible version yet of Benjamin’s compelling and demanding essay.”—Kevin McLaughlin, Brown University

Marking the centenary of Walter Benjamin’s immensely influential essay, “Toward the Critique of Violence,” this critical edition presents readers with an altogether new, fully annotated translation of a work that is widely recognized as a classic of modern political theory.

The volume includes twenty-one notes and fragments by Benjamin along with passages from all of the contemporaneous texts to which his essay refers. Readers thus encounter for the first time in English provocative arguments about law and violence advanced by Hermann Cohen, Kurt Hiller, Erich Unger, and Emil Lederer. A new translation of selections from Georges Sorel’s Reflections on Violence further illuminates Benjamin’s critical program. The volume also includes, for the first time in any language, a bibliography Benjamin drafted for the expansion of the essay and the development of a corresponding philosophy of law. An extensive introduction and afterword provide additional context.

With its challenging argument concerning violence, law, and justice—which addresses such topical matters as police violence, the death penalty, and the ambiguous force of religion—Benjamin’s work is as important today as it was upon its publication in Weimar Germany a century ago.
 

Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) was a German Jewish philosopher.

Peter Fenves is Joan and Serapta Harrison Professor of Literature, Northwestern University.

Julia Ng is Lecturer in Critical Theory and codirector of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought, Goldsmiths, University of London.



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TRAGEDY AND PHILOSOPHY: CPCT Annual Conference 2021 (2-4 and 9-11 June, online)

TRAGEDY AND PHILOSOPHY

Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought
Annual Conference 2021
Goldsmiths, University of London

2-4 and 9-11 June, 2021
3:30-7:30pm BST, online

Keynotes: Miriam Leonard (UCL), Manfred Posani Löwenstein (Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici), Tina Chanter (Newcastle), Jeremy Glick (Hunter College, CUNY), Rebecca Comay (Toronto)

Register here for each session.

[**NB: Scroll down to see all 6 dates on the registration page.]

DESCRIPTION:

Pivotal for the history of aesthetics are the encounters between philosophy and tragedy that span from Ancient Greece to the decolonizing Caribbean. Ever since its infamous exclusion in Plato’s Republic and its theorisation in Aristotle’s Poetics, tragedy has played a number of often contrasting roles in philosophy’s own self-understanding. Tragedy has variously been conceived as an origin of philosophical (and dialectical) thought, as a limit to philosophy’s efforts at intellectual sovereignty, as well as a constant source of ethical exemplification and conceptual instruction. While conscious of the stakes of philosophy’s image of tragedy, this conference will try to expand its purview to look beyond and beneath a late-eighteenth early-nineteenth century idea of the tragic which has often come to saturate reflection on this relationship. Tragedy and Philosophy will therefore also seek to consider a variety of themes that transcend the equation between tragedy and the tragic, including: the contribution of anthropology and history to an understanding of the specificity of Greek tragedy; the place of femininity, lament and conflict in ancient Greek tragedies; the relation between music and words in tragedy, and its philosophical significance (including in tragedy’s repetition by modern opera); the early modern emergence of a poetics of tragedy irreducible to Aristotelian and Idealist or Romantic variants; tragedy as a reflection on sovereignty; tragedy as an art intimately linked to moments of crisis and transition.

This virtual conference is organised in sessions distributed over six days. Each panel will take place from 3:30-5:30pm BST and each keynote address from 6:00-7:30pm BST. Sessions will be followed by a discussion. A concluding roundtable will close the conference.

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Donna Jones (Berkeley) — The Promise of Decline: Race and the Rhetoric of Historical Pessimism in the Interwar Years (17 May 2021, CPCT “Critiquing Violence Today” series)

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London cordially invites you to its Lecture Series 20/21 on “Critiquing Violence Today”:

The Promise of Decline: Race and the Rhetoric of Historical Pessimism in the Interwar Years

Donna Jones (Berkeley) 

Monday, 17 May 2021

4:00-6:00pm BST, Zoom

(To register please visit https://gold-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_G5SHSXsMQgenm_PsYeYdeg

Donna Jones is Associate Professor of English at UC Berkeley and the author of The Racial Discourses of Life Philosophy: Négritude, Vitalism and Modernity (Columbia UP, 2010). She is currently working on two two projects, The Ambiguous Promise of European Decline: Race and Historical Pessimism in the Era of the Great War and The Tribunal of Life: Reflections on Vitalism, Race and Biopolitics. 

Contact: centreforphilosophyandcriticalthought@gold.ac.uk


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Goldsmiths Annual Philosophy Lectures 2021: Monique David-Ménard (Paris), 25 and 27 May 2021, online

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought cordially invites you to the

Goldsmiths Annual Philosophy Lectures 2021

Monique David-Ménard (Paris)

(Register here for both events)

Part I
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
6-8pm BST, online

Objects of Desire, Objects of the Drives, and Jouissance in Transference

Respondent: Darian Leader (CFAR)

For an analyst, expounding a clinical example is no mere illustration of a pre-existing theory. Rather, the exposition serves as a laboratory for the formation of concepts and thus of the capacity for critiquing previous theories. In my presentation, I will put this claim to the test by examining the significance and function of “The Thing” (das Ding), “desire,” “the objects of the drives,” and “jouissance” in the field of transference. Lacan wrote in L’Étourdit that “formalisation is our goal, our ideal” because there is something indeterminable directly in the analytic act due to the infinite equivocity of language. But do we only have a choice between an “integral transmission” by virtue of a matheme, and non-knowledge?

Part II
Thursday, 27 May 2021
6-8pm BST, online

Animism of the Unconscious: On the Animism of Property in Modern Right

Respondent: Alain Pottage (Law, Sciences Po, Paris)

Instead of seeking the connection of the social and the sexual in the mode of how subjects of desire are involved in forms of power and in relation to rights, what if we focused our attention on the various regimes of things? As anthropologists Marilyn Strathern and Maurice Godelier have demonstrated, things in the social are objects of exchange, of production, and of transmission. Our relations to things, especially to inanimate things, are not as rational as we generally suppose: things and objects condense the unknown in social relations. How is this unknown articulated with the unconscious objects of our desires? In my presentation, I will attempt to approach this animistic layer of socio-political existence from three angles: Hegel’s philosophy of abstract right, Freud’s account of the animism of the unconscious, and the comparison, made by Marilyn Strathern, between the role of mask-statues in New Ireland and patent rights and intellectual property in modern societies. The question is this: how do political struggles in democracies put into play animistic components of social relations?

ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:

Monique David-Ménard is professor emerita of philosophy at the University Paris-Diderot (Paris 7) where, as the Director of the Centre d’études du vivant, she established the field of research on “Gender and Sexualities.” She is also a practicing psychoanalyst and vice president of the Société de Psychanalyse Freudienne. Additionally, she is a co-founder of the ISPP (International Society for Psychoanalysis and Philosophy), an associate of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (Berlin), and a member of the International Network of Women Philosophers (UNESCO). She is the author of L’hysterique entre Freud et Lacan: corps et langage en psychanalyse (1983; English as Hysteria from Freud to Lacan: Body and Language in Psychoanalysis, trans. by Catherine Porter, 1989); La folie dans la raison pure: Kant lecteur de Swedenborg (1990); Les constructions de l’universel: psychanalyse, philosophie (1997); Tout le plaisir est pour moi (2000); Deleuze et la psychanalyse: l’altercation (2005); Éloge des hasards dans la vie sexuelle (2011); and, most recently, La Vie sociale des choses. L’animisme et les objets, Editions du Bord-de l’Eau, collection Totem et tabou (2020).

Darian Leader is a psychoanalyst working in London and a founding member of the Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research (CFAR). A major contributor to the field of psychoanalysis, his books include What is Madness?, Strictly Bipolar, Hands and Why Can’t We Sleep? He also regularly contributes articles on psychoanalysis to The Guardian.

Alain Pottage is Professor of Law at the Sciences Po, Paris. His research focuses on questions in the history and theory of intellectual property, and on the question of law in the Anthropocene.

Co-sponsored by The Centre for Freudian Analysis and Research, London.

Contact: centreforphilosophyandcriticalthought@gold.ac.uk


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Murad Idris (Virginia) — Idealizations of Peace in Islamic Political Thought: The Case of Sayyid Qutb (28 April 2021, CPCT)

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London cordially invites you to its Lecture Series 20/21 on “Critiquing Violence Today”:

Idealizations of Peace in Islamic Political Thought: The Case of Sayyid Qutb

Murad Idris (Virginia)

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

4:00-6:00pm BST

Zoom

(To register please visit https://gold-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_hK3LRdI9QUuIQlBUpercEg

 “Before us today is the problem of universal peace,” Sayyid Qutb declares in the prologue to his much-neglected Universal Peace and Islam (1951). “Does Islam have an opinion on the matter? Does Islam have a solution?” Albeit popularly considered the ideologue of “Islamic jihad,” the Muslim Brotherhood’s leading theorist designed a plan for universal peace. Qutb’s plan pegs the emergence of universal peace to an immanent organization of individual states with laws in common. Its promise of peace is embedded in an Enlightenment script that claims to correct unjust savagery through the state and the law. This is a script that calls up Immanuel Kant and Thomas Hobbes, specifically their predications of peace on law and statehood. Drawing attention to Kant’s discussions of “the Arab” and Hobbes’s references to empire, this talk unpacks the unacknowledged salience of denials of law, political economy, and settler colonialism for theorizations of peace. Qutb’s adaptations of that familiar logic unwittingly expose its limits, culminating with perpetual war against enemies whose laws and form are ‘wrong.’ 

This talk draws on a chapter of Idris’s book, War for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought (Oxford University Press, 2019), which recently won the David Easton Award from APSA’s Foundations of Political Theory Section (2020). The book deconstructs dominant formulations of peace in the writings of Plato, al-Farabi, Aquinas, Erasmus, Grotius, Gentili, Hobbes, Ibn Khaldun, Immanuel Kant, and Sayyid Qutb.

Murad Idris is Associate Professor of Political Theory at the University of Virginia and the author ofWar for Peace: Genealogies of a Violent Ideal in Western and Islamic Thought (Oxford University Press, 2019).

Contact: centreforphilosophyandcriticalthought@gold.ac.uk


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Eric Santner — Canine-ical Theory: On Kafka’s ‘Researches of a Dog’ (17 March 2021)

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London cordially invites you to its Lecture Series 20/21 on “Critiquing Violence Today”:

Canine-ical Theory: On Kafka’s ‘Researches of a Dog’

Eric Santer (University of Chicago)

Wednesday, 17 March 2021
4:00-6:00pm GMT
Zoom
(Click https://gold-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_g7WM5YjsQo-ObbbG6sVAlA to register)

In the paper I will present a reading of Kafka’s story about a dog’s effort to develop a new science. I will argue that this science has not only much in common with Freud’s innovation but also that it shares a great deal with what Foucault was after in his engagement with the Cynics, the stray dogs of philosophy.

Eric L. Santner is the Philip and Ida Romber Distinguished Service Professor of Modern Germanic Studies. He is the author of a number of books that explore the boundary zones between philosophy, literature, and psychoanalysis.

Contact: centreforphilosophyandcriticalthought@gold.ac.uk


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Rocío Zambrana — On Debt: Neoliberal Coloniality in the Colony of Puerto Rico (25 Feb 2021)

The Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London cordially invites you to its Lecture Series 20/21 on “Critiquing Violence Today”:

On Debt: Neoliberal Coloniality in the Colony of Puerto Rico

Rocío Zambrana (Emory University)

Thursday, 25 February 2021
4:00-6:00pm GMT
Zoom
(Click https://gold-ac-uk.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_EV-rUCRuTPug_Ncz8JKh_g to register)

Debt functions as a form of coloniality in the colony of Puerto Rico. It operates not only as an apparatus of capture and predation, intensifying a neoliberalism reconfigured by the financial crisis. It also operates as a form of coloniality, actualizing a race/gender norm installed and updated throughout an ongoing colonial history. Placing in conversation Marxist approximations to financial neoliberal capitalism, decolonial thought, and decolonial feminism in Puerto Rico, this talk considers the work of debt in updating modalities of gender and racial, particularly antiblack, violence. 

Rocío Zambrana is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Emory University. She is the author of Hegel’s Theory of Intelligibility (U Chicago Press, 2015) and Colonial Debts: The Case of Puerto Rico (Duke UP, forthcoming), as well as numerous articles on German Idealism, Marxism, and Critical Theory. She is the co-editor of Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy and a columnist for 80grados

Contact: centreforphilosophyandcriticalthought@gold.ac.uk