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'Queering desire through serendipity and a_sociality'

Keynote Lecture by Antke Engel

28 May 2020, 19:00-20:30

The aim of this paper is to outline from a queer philosophical perspective four elements that shift desire from a hierarchical subject-desires-object model into a dynamics of queer connectivity. These elements are: multiplicity, serendipity, care and the paradoxical tension of a_sociality. Since none of these elements captures in itself a queer understanding of desire, the challenge consists in understanding their dynamic interplay. Such interplay inevitably occurs under conditions thoroughly permeated by relations of power and inequality as well as histories of personal and structural violence. Nonetheless, queer desiring dynamics carry the potential of opening up space for the other as well as the other of the Other and the other of oneself. 

'Queer Diaspora: Intimacy, Desire & Refusal'

Keynote Lecture (Interactive) by Chandra Frank

29 May 2020, 16:15-17:30

This session will explore the aesthetics of queer diasporic cultural production and question in which ways selected audio-visual works generate gendered and racialised forms of intimacy and desire. Bringing together insights on archives, queer and feminist visual cultures and temporality, we will consider non-western modes of sexuality, pleasure and expression. By foregrounding the importance of the everyday and mundane, this session tunes into aesthetic ruptures and the notion of refusal embedded within queer diasporic work. 


'The Vicissitudes of Pleasure: Between the Machines of Desire and the Politics of the Good'

Keynote Lecture by Keti Chukhrov

29 May 2020, 18:00-19:30

Since the 1960-s pleasure and enjoyment had been linked to liberation and emancipation—be it in art, critical theory, gender studies, or philosophy. Even now, many would insist that communism is rather a site of accomplished desires and not the hard work of organizing the politics of the common good. This Platonic notion itself—the “common good”—has been split into the “common” and the “good.” Critical discourse and subversive practices always embraced the “commons”, whereas ‘the good’ acquired connotations of a controlled governing order. Even Lacanian psychoanalysis and post-structuralist thought fell prey to the defiance of the good in apologizing for desire and its creative potentials. The commons, consequently, was understood as a collective enjoyment, whereas labor and discipline could only stand for authoritarian subjugation. Instead, perverting and subverting practices become the primary form of embodying the commons. This tearing away of the commons from the good leads ever deeper into an exploration of individual desire, generating ever more innovative, alienated, estranged forms of odd and unconventional enjoyment. As a result, we get the diversification of desires under the auspices of liberating hidden traumas or perverse imaginaries, when their public exposure stands for freedom and resistance against power. Meanwhile the history of despotism and authoritarianism shows that indulging in surplus pleasure is not at all counter-authoritarian; paradoxically, it is power itself that is the principal subject of halting the law, and indulging in surplus enjoyment.



‘Realistically Impossible: the Magic of Social Change’

Keynote Lecture by Mijke van der Drift

30 May 2020, 12:00-13:30

In this talk I will address social change as losing one’s logic. This loss of logic opens possibility for the emergence of new worlds of sense. María Lugones offers that such change comes at the cost of dissolving meaning and comprehensibility. This leads to a question of what is entailed in the craft of making relations while not knowing who one is and having lost all sense of meaning. Cedric Robinson suggests that revolutions are magic, because they are impossible. Oscillating between the necessity of impossibility and what is realistically the loss of comprehensibility emerges the craft of making relations to the unknown and the creation of new worlds of sense. While these relations cannot emerge within existing structures of meaning, it is love that guides one towards new ethics. Losing logic, I will argue, creates space for the loving perception of incomprehensible futures.  

‘Queer desires, queer Marxisms’

*Workshop by Nat Raha

30 May 2020,  14:30-16:00 


What is the relationship between queer desires and racial capitalism at the turn of the 2020s? How have forms of LGBTQ social and legal inclusion (such as gay marriage), accompanied by the decking of corporations, banks and border agencies with rainbow flags, transformed (or failed to transform) the conditions of queer desire? This workshop will consider how changing social and material conditions affect the desires of LGBTQ people across our intersections, in positive, negative and contradictory ways. 

We will study Rosemary Hennessy’s essay ‘Queer Visibility in Commodity Culture’, a foundational essay for Queer Marxism. Hennessy discusses how commodification influenced queer ‘lifestyles’ and affects in the 1990s amid a wider ‘Aestheticisation of Daily Life’, consolidating perspectives, politics and forms of expression rooted in commodity fetishism and obscuring capitalist social relations. The essay suggests how Marx’s analysis of the value form of the commodity, when read through an anti-racist, Marxist feminist perspective, might inform queer praxis. 

We are at the precipice of a world transformed by the coronavirus, capitalist crisis and climate crisis, in a context of proliferating technology and right wing populist governments. The drive of queer desires to love, envision and (re)make the world otherwise, and to love and raise up people facing social and economic abjection (itself rooted historically) remains urgent: but what does this look like? How are these desires felt and lived, and what of their conditions of possibility? How do changes in capitalist social relations affect how are desires are borne, bared and manifest, and the worlds and communal forms we envision and attempt to create?

Suggested reading in advance: Rosemary Hennessy, ‘Queer Visibility in Commodity Culture’, in Profit and Pleasure: Sexuality Identities in Late Capitalism, London: Routledge, 2000/2017; or Cultural Critique No. 29 (Winter, 1994-1995), pp. 31-76. (Either version is fine!)


The workshop will involve large group and small group discussions. 

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