Judith Butler, Amelia Jones, Achille Mbembe, and many more, at the VU

by Katja Kwastek

Next week, 5-7 April 2017, our big international conference ‘Critical Theory in the Humanities: Resonances of the Work of Judith Butler,’ will take place.  Together with colleagues from philosophy (Wouter Goris, Annemie Halsema) and literature studies (Roel van den Oever), we organized this conference to encourage discussion amongst scholars from various disciplines (art history, philosophy, literature studies, cultural studies, media studies, theology, law…) about the role of the humanities when it comes to pressing issues of contemporary society as well core questions of the human condition. I got to appreciate Butler for her research on performativity, but she also engages with issues of the public sphere, gender and sexuality, and inclusing and exclusion.
Judith Butler will speak on “Bodies That Still Matter” at Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamNext to Butler, who will speak on “Bodies That Still Matter,” there will be keynote lectures by
Adriana Cavarero, Amelia Jones, Achille Mbembe, Aagje Swinnen, Iris van der Tuin, and Charlotte Witt. The conference will close with a performance by the German artist Johannes Paul Raether at Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. There will also be a pre-conference program organized by LIMA on April 4th, with artists and screenings about Performativity and Gender.

So this is really a not to miss opportunity… Registration for the whole conference is 70 Euro for students (including lots of coffee breaks and two receptions with food…), but you can also by day-tickets or separate tickets for the evening lecture by Achille Mbembe or the closing discussion with Butler. I especially recommend the Wednesday, with the opening lecture by the feminist art historian Amelia Jones on queer performativity, a lecture by literary scholar Aagje Swinnen on age as a performative categorie, discussing, amongst others, the photo series “Mumbling beauty” consisting of 81 pho­tographs of Louise Bourgeois taken in her final years by Alex Van Gelder, and the evening keynote by the famous African political philosopher Achille Mbembe, who will speak about “Negative Messianism and the Ethics of Consequences”.

“Why do we find ourselves dangerously skating on what increasingly looks like thinner and thinner political, cultural and ethical ice?” Mbembe asks, seeing the present as threatened by what he calls ‘Negative Messianism’ a hopeless pessimism regarding the future of humankind, paired with a readiness for violence, the “will to kill, as opposed to the will to care” (for students, a Wednesday ticket incl. coffie & reception is 35 Euro).

And if your main desire is to see Butler appear in person (while separate tickets for the  evening lecture of hers on Thursday evening are sold out), you can still book a single 10 Euro ticket for Friday afternoon, a keynote conversation of Judith Butler with Monique David-Ménard.

For the full programme and registration, see http://www.butleramsterdam.com.

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