Please us for a two-day conference entitled Conspiracy/Theory where we'll be discussing the theoretical in conspiracy and the conspiratorial in critical theory. Participants will explore the conditions for knowing in a world where there is often too much information but not of the right kind to judge evidence, ascertain the nature of truth claims, or resolve issues of agency and intent. And, we'll be examining how and when intuition, experience, and judgement become marked as either conspiratorial or theoretical and trying to understand the elective affinities between conspiracy and theory while appreciating the seductions of each.
For our fourth episode of the DeSigning Praxis dialogue series, two architectural theorists, teachers and practitioners -- Shiben Banerji from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), and Nora Akawi from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) -- will explore the relationship between Design and Globality. In so doing, Banerji and Akawi will add to the DeSigning Praxis’s ongoing consideration of Design as a world-imagining, and thus world making or “worlding” enterprise -- a social practice that makes the cosmological into the praxiological.
This Theorizing the Present lecture argues that the redefinition of sovereignty as responsibility dangerously reduces sovereignty to a functional role and casts the relationship between a state and its citizens in a paternalistic form. The functionalism and paternalism of sovereignty as responsibility renders it conditional and reproduce structures of international hierarchy. In response to these problems, Getachew calls for a return to and rethinking of sovereignty as autonomy.
The fourth installment of the DeSigning Praxis series brings together a lawyer/anthropologist -- Alejandra Azuero -- and architect and architecture theorist -- Francesco Marullo, to discuss the coming into being of a world of total design as a historical process of alignment of epistemologies, practices, and theories of design with modes for producing economic and legal order.
This symposium asks what are the stakes of naming violent domestic conflict civil war rather than revolution, or the Greek stasis, or tumult, sedition, insurgency, or guerilla warfare? At what point do we call conflicts civil wars and when do we stop doing so? The recent disturbance in Syria, for instance, goes by civil war in the Western media, but it raged for a full year before earning that appellation. Arabists, however, prefer to characterize it as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran and therefore feel civil war is off the mark—a terminological-conceptual controversy that hearkens back at least to the “Spanish Civil War.” Some might choose to designate the Syrian conflict rather a religious war within Islam. Depending on one’s stakes, the name of civil war can legitimate one side or condemn all of the warring parties.
Lecture: Excavating contemporary capitalism: toward a critique of extraction writ large // Sandro Mezzadra
Beginning with the question of globalization's persistence in the age of Trump, Mezzadra will attempt to shed light on the specific “rationality,” or “logic” underlying operations of capital in strategically important “sectors” of economic activity – such as extraction, logistics, and finance. He examines the relationship of such operative logics with the nation state form and argues for an expended notion of extraction and its impact upon contemporary capitalism before turning to a set of questions regarding a politics capable of effectively confronting this increasingly extractive capitalism and opening up new vistas of liberation and life beyond the rule of capital.
Political theorists Robert Meister and Sandro Mezzadra have uniquely advanced the study of capitalism and politics, but their considerable bodies of work have not often been placed in direct conversation with each other.
Beginning with the “operations of capital” (Mezzadra/Neilson 2015) and the “option form of value” (Meister 2016), this graduate student designed workshop proposes to initiate this conversation by asking how these analytics resonate and differ in their shared aim to further our understanding of the abstract and material nature of global technologies of capital accumulation, and by inquiring into the political practices highlighted in and perspectives afforded by each approach.
Lecture: The President’s Body and Other Missing Matters: “Conspiracy Culture” in Cyprus // Lisa Davis
This lecture begins with the theft of the corpse of controversial Cypriot president, Tassos Papadopoulos, from his grave in a south Nicosia cemetery in December 2009. Working through the intense public speculation surrounding the theft, Davis examines the intersections between “conspiracy theory” and social theory on epistemological and ethical grounds, and asks what kinds of knowledge are enabled and what kinds of politics are empowered by “conspiracy theories” as well as by their debunking.
For the third installment of the DeSigning Praxis Dialogue series, a UChicago anthropologist -- Julie Chu -- and an architect, urban designer and architecture theorist -- Neeraj Bhatia -- will discuss the intersection and implication of design and infrastructure.
This is a one-day conference theorizing the entanglement of gender, nation, sexualities and secularism in contemporary Europe.
Roz Morris explores the withdrawal of electricity in the de-industrializing spaces of South Africa's gold economy, many of which are are subject to the state only via the threat of violence. Here, popular tribunals nonetheless try to mimic the sovereign state and economic life attempts a rationalized form. What conspires here - what brings together otherwise distinct bodies (of discourse and power), Morris argues - is not so much theory as forms of existence that are determined and determining in the mode of resemblance.
In our second DeSigning Praxis dialogue, DeSigning Cosmology, Keith Murphy and Taylor Lowe will discuss the intersection of Design and Cosmology in their own research on Swedish and Thai politics, respectively. Their work on the place of design in political cosmologies (or cosmopolitics) will frame a discussion of the contemporary politics of cosmology.
** PLEASE NOTE LOCATION HAS CHANGED TO SWIFT HALL **
This one-day participatory event co-organized by faculty fellows at 3CT and University of Chicago students provides an opportunity to think through the phenomenon of Trumpism, reactions to it, and its reverberations upon the institution of the university.
Co-Sponsored Event: New CHS Journal Issue + Global Intellectual History and the History of Capital: toward a social history of concepts // Andrew Sartori
We're thrilled to announce a newest issue in our journal, Critical Historical Studies! In conjunction with this latest issue, CHS editor and author Andrew Sartori will discuss how forms of economic practice help illuminate social imaginaries and asks to what extent writing the history of ideas is also a task of economic and social history or a task of critical theory.
This workshop examines the concept of Locke's metallism which is widely condemned today as a theoretical regression. However, it allowed him to conceive money as a medium of commercial social interdependencies that were distinct in constitution from political determinations.
For the inaugural conversation of the “DeSigning Praxis” dialogue series 3CT brings together Robert Somol, director of the school of architecture at UIC, and Orit Halpern, historian of science and scholar of mid-twentieth century pedagogies of design, for a discussion on their current critical engagements with the praxis and theory of teaching architecture and design.
Please join us for a round table discussion on the critique of political economy in light of contemporary economic, social, and political crises. We’ll be using Postone’s re-reading of Marx as a point of departure for this discussion and will examine recent crisis-ridden developments in light of that critique.
Please join us for a discussion of Patrick Jagoda's new book Network Aesthetics which, in exploring how popular culture mediates our experience with interconnected life, reveals the network’s role as a way for people to construct and manage their world—and their view of themselves. Jagoda will be introduced by Lauren Berlant, and Bill Brown will comment on the text.
This talk explores the workings of contemporary forms of neoliberal ideology in counter-distinction to earlier philosophical conceptions of the human being (as radically open and fundamentally historical). Schuster argues that within neoliberalism, the very openness meant to combat reification has itself become a vector for reification. Not only does neoliberalism exploit this openness or ontological precarity, it also mobilizes a powerful apparatus for interpreting the subject, giving it a specific form: namely, debt.
This two-day symposium, held in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago, brings together leading practitioners in conservation and collection care for presentations and demonstrations, to explore how knowledge of industrial materials and processes can inform art historical interpretation. (For more information, including venues, please click on the event)
Timothy Melley examines the mushrooming U.S. discourse on conspiracy and argues that conspiracy discourse marks an epistemological crisis in which a desire for democratic transparency seems paradoxically impeded by the growing availability of information.
In this lecture, Rabie will give a political economic history and a city report on Ramallah, and argue that when viewed from a different perspective, the newness of the Ramallah market does not index instability, but instead points towards a set of practices that attempt to bound instabilities into possibilities for accumulation. In various ways, debt, falling wages, and PA wage instability control the dynamics of consumption and manage the market; and the political economic relationship of the PA to Israel keeps the West Bank, as both a territorial unit and a market, subordinate to Israel’s.
Co-Sponsored Event: Writing as Archival Practice: A Lecture/Writing, Theory/Practice Workshop Hybrid // Ann Cvetkovich
Ann Cvetkovich asks what happens when a grassroots lesbian feminist archive finds its way to the collections of a major university research library. Does it lose its counverarchival aura, or can it carry its powers of critical intervention into new spaces? Please join us as Cvetkovich explores this and other questions within the broader context of her research on queer archival politics.
Panel: The Concept of Capital and the Current State of Capitalism // Étienne Balibar & Verónica Gago
This half-day panel will feature presentations by Étienne Balibar (Columbia University) and Verónica Gago (University of Buenos Aires) followed by responses from Robert Meister (3CT Visiting Scholar, UCSC) and Moishe Postone. Kaushik Sunder Rajan will act as panel moderator.
In the context of the ongoing Syrian civil war and its accompanying news cycle, Prof. Weiss explores reflections of an ethics of immediacy in Syrian literature through the concept of the “slow witness,” a figure that is both represented in specific literary texts but also embodied by the practice of writing and reading fiction itself in a time of extreme human suffering and dislocation.
Please join the Political Theory Workshop and Prof. David Scott who will present his reading of of the problem-space of political will in Michael Manley’s first book, The Politics of Change (1974). He seeks to clarify the conceptual connections through which Manley sought identify the political conundrums of the aftermaths of colonial rule, and map a path toward their resolution.
Fashions of dress are paradigmatic drivers of material obsolescence. Yet at the same time, fashion is the marginal aesthetic practice where ‘salvage’ is most on the surface. In part, the ubiquity and ordinariness of the vintage, the retro, and the cyclically recurrent in fashion put the oppositional charge of the act of salvage in question.
Through a mentorship program with SAIC (MDesign) graduate students, University of Chicago MODA students have been working on the concept of 'salvaging' in fashion design, theory and construction. This workshop will discuss their ongoing salvaged garment projects, which will then be exhibited at the Salvage 3.1 Symposium on May 13.