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Symposium: Individuality/Dividuation: An Epistemological Perspective

As today's critical epistemologies teach us, the contemporary becoming-world needs to be understood by an expanded »principle of relativity« which constrains us to adopt perspectives of different scales and to observe shifts on the biological, sociological, cultural and artistic level. While microscopic instruments report that non-human organisms contribute to our psycho-physical constitution, on the macroscopic level, we participate as intensely as possible in technological and social media and inevitably intersect with composite-cultural societies. These are some of the reasons why we want to reflect on the question if we can still consider ourselves as individuals, as undivided entities. Wouldn't it make more sense to conceive of ourselves as intersections of different sorts of participation, i.e. as specific dividuations? Dividuation then means an ambivalent concept pointing at our voluntary participation as well as our unvolontary captures and asking for new modes of moderation of ourselves. In our symposium, we want to reflect on these twofold processes from the points of view of cultural studies, media anthropology, human rights and art issues.

Tuesday, 11. July 2017

11.00 h
Michaela Ott (Professor of Aesthetic Theories, HFBK Hamburg)

11.15 h
Foucault, Race, and Racism
Keynote lecture by Rey Chow (Professor of Literature, Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, Duke University, Durham)

When it comes to Foucault and questions of race, the challenge is the ready charge of Eurocentrism—that is, that Foucault’s perspectives, bound as they are to European cultures, are negligent of other parts of the world. This lecture proposes ways of coming to terms with Foucault’s relevance to race studies without following the geopolitically overdetermined direction of this familiar line of criticism. Instead, an attempt will be made to address Foucault’s important question »What in fact is racism?«
Moderation: Ulrike Bergermann (Professor of Media Science, Hochschule für bildende Künste Braunschweig)

12.30 h
I Is Another. The End of the Individual
Lecture by Martin Burckhardt (Author and Cultural Theorist, Berlin)

The project of individuality that goes back to central perspective, has come – together with the dominating code of Representation - to an end. Based on a formula that the creator of binary logic, George Boole, has emitted in the midst of 19th century, Martin Burckhardt analyzes the metempsychosis the contemporary self-conception passes through.
Moderation: Michaela Ott

13.15 h

14.30 h
To name and to claim: human rights beyond the individual
Lecture by Thomas Keenan (Director of the Human Rights Project, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature, Bard College, New York)

Human rights are better thought of as claims we make than as things we have. Any critical account of rights therefore must begin with the act of claiming, which is to say, of naming and comparison. When we declare our rights, we name not just ourselves but who we are together, and what we have in common. Like you, I am a human being; or, Aren't we human? Obviously, this does not go without saying, and so evidence always needs to be presented -- to others, for their counter-signature. This allows for a different approach to the contested notions of »individualism« and of »universality.« When I claim a right, I cannot claim it only for myself — human rights are always shared with others too, which is also to say, always divided and without guarantee.
Moderation: Peter Müller (Scientific Assistant at the postgraduate study program Aesthetics oft he Virtual, HFBK Hamburg)

15.30 h
SFAI – from inside out. Art, education, individual experience, collective adaptation
Lecture by Gordon Knox (Social anthropologist, President, San Francisco Art Institute)

This conversation takes a concrete and historically specific sociological object and disassembles its core values, purposes and perceptions as they relate to the tension between concepts of individuality and the reality of our species-wide reliance on the collective. The object is a 146-year-old art school in California. As a sociological object it serves to deliver the generational transmission of knowledge, the empowerment of individual ways of knowing, and the collective impact of communicating complex understandings. Participants in such institutions must recognize that we are suspended in, and generators of, the webs of meaning that define us individually and allow us collectively to adapt to a changing planet. We are our future, and art schools are central to that.
Moderation: Michaela Melián (Professor of Mixed Media / Akustik, HFBK Hamburg)

Venue: HFBK Hamburg, Lerchenfeld 2, Aula

Idea + Concept: Michaela Ott

Presentations in English