Vulnerable Bodies of the Political- Vulnerability Revisited

Lecture Series

Vulnerability has become a central topic of political debates in the 21st century. Political power and political resistance seem to articulate themselves increasingly in terms of exposure. The digital and hyperconnected age has transformed public communication, departing from media concepts as controllable instruments for processes of negotiation. It is also characterized by a continuous integration of emotions and affects, in the forms of affect communities or solidarities (#MeToo), but also in the distribution of postfactual and violent forms of exchange in social media platforms like Telegram or Facebook.
At the same time, the perspective of vulnerability has sparked a unique hope for connections between seemingly irreconcilable, traditional dichotomies - even between organic and inorganic beings (Haraway). Aiming to inspire new engagements with ethics (Butler), this hope centers on the realization or display of a shared vulnerability, which promises to transform (physical) borders between living beings into points of contact. Not coincidentally, existential fears of the present time focus on our exposure to uncontrollable powers (climate, pandemic, natural disasters), the loss of livelihood, active singling out, or death (Agamben).
The particular perspective of making the bodily inscribed experience of suffering the starting point of political empowerment and solidarization, as well as the epistemic mode which is characterized by mutual recognition and a different way of knowledge genesis (Lugones), connects the ethics of vulnerability with questions of a history of violence. In doing so, the lecture series focuses in particular on the connection between the ethics of vulnerability and questions posed by a history of violence that follows the traces of physical pain, death, and trauma.

Wednesdays, 4-6pm CET Online via Zoom

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Jana Storch: