In this course, participants investigate the problem of representational violence broadly understood. Initial inspiration is drawn from Jacques Derrida’s description of the violence of naming and the exclusion that all descriptive acts perform. The selected readings focus on the ways that even the best-intentioned acts of social and political engagement can lead to oppression and marginalization. At the same time, they probe the ways in which we might, then, “speak for others” at all? If the negative impact of representation both in descriptive as well as practical attempts at recognition and “understanding” is indeed unavoidable, how do we – even within our academic task of representing others – deal with unwanted rhetorical appropriations and more concrete colonizing moves? What might be suitable approaches for “speaking truth to power” when unitary identities are problematized in favour of more complex descriptions and the detailed accounting of differences? And to what extent will such problematics always defy any putatively non-violent solutions?
The course will be carried out as a block seminar on Tuesday, January 30th and Wednesday, January 31st, 2018. Emphasis will be on discussion and short, informal introductions to the key texts, with responsibility for presenting each text assigned to one of the participants. Participants are expected to read all six key texts closely in advance of the seminar and to also familiarize themselves with the supplementary reading.
Those wishing to take part are asked to contact Kalle Pihlainen (X-B2-241, firstname.lastname@example.org) by Tuesday, January 23rd; presentation assignments can be discussed and set on enrolment.