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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Singularity’s -abilities: In Celebration of Samuel Weber’s 80th Birthday (1 Dec 2020)

Please join us for Singularity’s -abilities: In Celebration of Samuel Weber’s 80th Birthday this Tuesday December 1st at 9am CST. Speakers, agenda, and registration info below.

Presentations will be in English and German. All times are local to Chicago, USA.


9:00am – 10:00am — Singularity’s Inscriptions

Isabelle Alfandary – Learning to Read with Sam Weber
Julia Ng – Whistling Lillabullero
Hans-Jörg Rheinberger – Schreiben und Experimentieren
Bernard Geoghegan – Theatricality and AI
(Moderator: James Martel)

10:15am – 11:15am — Singularity’s Philosophy

Peter Fenves – Singularity, Again
Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky – The Ever New Angel
Diego Rosello – The Task of Thanking: Thanking as Thinking with Samuel Weber
Laura Chiesa – tba
(Moderators: James Martel, Julia Ng)

11:45am-12:45pm — Singularity’s Politics

Marian Hobson – How can classification be violent? Weber and Derrida
Javier Burdman – Sam Weber’s Response to Lyotard’s Just Gaming and the Elusive Link between Deconstruction and Politics
James Martel – Singularity and the Commandment: another form of law
Héctor Castaño – Singularity in Translation and the Economy of Cultural Difference 
(Moderator: Julia Ng)

1:00pm – 1:30pm Response by Samuel Weber

Organized by Jörg Kreienbrock, James Martel, Julia Ng, and generously co-sponsored by Northwestern University, San Francisco State University, and the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London

REGISTER HERE for Zoom link

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CANCELLED: Elsa Dorlin – The Police and the Violence of the Democratic State (Dec 2)


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

The Police and the Violence of the Democratic State 

Elsa Dorlin (Paris 8)

Wednesday, 2 December 2020 

4:00-6:00pm GMT


(please visit to register)

In my book Se défendreUne philosophie de la violence (Defending Oneself: A Philosophy of Violence), a major reference is missing: Walter Benjamin’s text, Toward the Critique of Violence (1921). Not that the text was not relevant, nor that Benjamin’s work and the thought were not familiar to me. It was by following the theses On the Concept of History that I initiated my genealogical approach to the notion of constellated time; but it was by tacitly shadowing Benjamin, grasping in the breaches of history for what belongs to an ontology of divine violence – of which revolutionary violence is like the replica and imprint – that I made explicit my intention to turn to muscle rather than law in order to think self-defense, because “there is something rotten in the law”.  

Toward the Critique of Violence is never cited in Se défendre, and yet this reference is there as a foundation, an inaugural starting point: all of its tragic protagonists – the state, natural law, positive law, the working class, the concept of property, the critique of the contract, life and death, the revolution, but also the mystical part of the carnal gesture that saves – are reanimated in the book I wanted to write. As a hidden reference, it is the fictitious dialogue between Walter Benjamin (but also Sorel) and Frantz Fanon that is deployed there. The critique of state violence, of the state itself – of right, of law, of the legal contract – and of their attendant mythologies is at the heart of my reflection.  

In this presentation, I would like to unfold this silent reference and extend the reflections of Se défendre by attempting to write what could be the last “missing” chapter of the book. A ghost chapter on the present, on the immediate reality from which I had deliberately kept myself at a distance, so difficult it is to think when our thoughts are glued to the present. At the crossroads of the present, I find Benjamin facing the democratic state, its police and their founding or constitutive violence; I find the French State and its police and the question: how to depose them? 

About the speaker: 

Elsa Dorlin is Professor of Social and Political Philosophy at the University of Paris 8 Vincennes/Saint-Denis. She is the author of several books, including La Matrice de la race. Généalogie sexuelle et coloniale de la nation française (Paris: La Découverte, 2006) and Se Défendre. Une philosophie de la violence (Paris: Zones, 2017; Suhrkamp, 2020; Verso, forthcoming), Frantz Fanon Book Prize from the Caribbean Philosophical Association 2018.


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CPCT Research Seminar 2020-21: Critiques of Violence

Paul Klee (From the Song of Songs) Version II ((Aus dem hohen Lied) (II. Fassung))

CPCT Research Seminar 2020-21:
Critiques of Violence

We’re pleased to announce the programme for this year’s Research Seminar, which is convened by Andrea Mura and Julia Ng. A detailed session plan including further readings and links to PDFs is available at

Wednesdays from 4:00-6:00pm UK time on Zoom

=> Register here:

2021 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of two texts that were seminal for the development of the modern critique of the state: Walter Benjamin’s “Toward the Critique of Violence” and Sigmund Freud’s Mass Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. The years around 1921 were not only the immediate aftermath of a number of revolutionary events in the environs of “Europe” (Russia, Germany), however; they were also coincident with the abolition of the world’s last widely recognized caliphate, the reshaping of the Arab Middle East, and the creation of the first Islamic mass movement of the twentieth-century: the Muslim Brotherhood. Taking this triple anniversary as its point of departure, this seminar will investigate what it means to “critique violence” and what being a “state” stands for during the long decade around and in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, both for contemporaries of the time and for us today who are the heirs to some of the most influential writings in political and legal thought resulting from this period. Alternating between close systematic readings of the texts in question and a genealogical approach to their historical and intertextual contexts, the seminar will seek to return the conceptual and practical stakes of a critique of violence to their full complexity, reconsidering them as articulations of implicit and explicit debates on anti-imperialism, nationalisms old and new, the value of constitutionalism, and the ambiguous role of religion in the modern world.

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Call for Papers: “Tragedy and Philosophy,” a CPCT conference (3-4 June, 2020; submission deadline 1 April, 2020) **POSTPONED TO AY2020-21**

Tragedy and Philosophy


3-4 June 2020
Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought
Goldsmiths, University of London

Deadline for submissions: 1 April 2020 **New deadline: 1 September 2020

Tina Chanter (University of Newcastle)
Rebecca Comay (University of Toronto)
Jeremy Matthew Glick (Hunter College)
Bonnie Honig (Brown University)
Miriam Leonard (University College London)
Manfred Posani Löwenstein (Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici)

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Publication of Werner Hamacher’s Two Studies of Friedrich Hölderlin (Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics. Stanford UP, 2020)

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CPCT is pleased to share with you the news of a publication that may be of interest to you: Werner Hamacher’s Two Studies of Friedrich Hölderlin, edited by Peter Fenves and Julia Ng, and translated by Julia Ng and Anthony Curtis Adler, has just appeared with Stanford UP. Werner Hamacher was an external affiliate of CPCT. In October 2015, he delivered a lecture on “Now, History” at Goldsmiths in inauguration of the Walter Benjamin London Research Network.

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Murderous Consent — A Symposium with Marc Crépon (25 Oct 2019)

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Murderous Consent — A Symposium with Marc Crépon

Friday 25 October 2019


Richard Hoggart Building 137

Marc Crépon (École Normale Supérieure, Paris) is joined by 5 panelists in discussion of his newly translated work on the violence in which we are structurally complicit.

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Primitivism Now – a workshop (29.10)

in collaboration with The Writing and Society Research Centre, Western Sydney University

29 October 2019


Deptford Town Hall Council Chamber 

[please note the venue change from a previous announcement]

PRIMITIVISM NOW is a one-day workshop featuring speakers from a range of disciplines, from literary theory to philosophy, politics to art history. They will consider whether it is possible to think anew about primitivism, a field whose theoretical underpinnings have largely lain dormant since the poststructural and postcolonial critiques of primitivism in the 1980s and 90s. Continue reading

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Report: Two CHASE-funded events celebrating the work of Walter Benjamin at Goldsmiths — 10-11 May, 2019

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Screenshot from ‘A Berlin Childhood around 1900—A Project in Progress.’ © ‘A Christmas Angel’ (2016), Aura Rosenberg

On May 10-11th 2019, PhD Candidates Sofia Cumming (University of East Anglia, 2017 Cohort) and Federica Murè (Goldsmiths, 2018 Cohort) put together a programme of events centred on the work of Walter Benjamin (1892–1940). Continue reading