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Tags: critical, ethnic, queer, performance, animal

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Art and Ethics: Shifts from Biopolitics to Necropolitics

Event Details

Art and Ethics: Shifts from Biopolitics to Necropolitics

Time: September 24, 2014 at 10am to September 26, 2014 at 5pm
Location: Ghent University research center S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts & Media
Street: Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Gent
City/Town: Ghent
Event Type: intensive, specialist, course, workshop
Organized By: Aneta Stojnic, Ghent University research center S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts & Media
Latest Activity: Sep 11, 2014

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Event Description

Art and Ethics: Shifts from Biopolitics to Necropolitics
24-26 September 2014
Ghent University research center S:PAM - Studies in Performing Arts & Media

S:PAM organizes a three day intensive specialist course with guest lecturer Prof. Dr. Marina Grzinic (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, and ZRC SAZU-Scientific and Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Art) during which we will examine the political and ethical dimensions of contemporary art in the present times of neo-liberal global capitalism and migration. This involves rethinking the notion of sovereignty (imperium) of Fortress Europa and an analysis of the prevailing discourses on identity, migration, integration and globalization. We will discuss how the transition from biopolitics to necropolitics relates to the questions of art, politics and ethics; what it means for contemporary performing art practices and production.

Course will consist of a theoretical introduction, three workshop sessions and a presentation by a guest artist Marissa Lobo (Vienna) followed by a discussion. Participants in the workshop will be invited to present their past, ongoing or planned projects (artistic and/or research) to be discussed in the group and in relation to the topic of the doctoral school.

In his famous essay ‘Necropolitics' (2003) the African philosopher and political scientist Achille Mbembe argued that Michael Faucault's concept of biopolitics is no longer sufficient to explain contemporary relations of power. Unlike biopolitics that governs from the perspective of the production and regulation of life, necropolitics regulates life from the perspective of a production and regulation of death. Mbembe observes how life is actually regulated within the extreme conditions of a war machine and of global capitalism. The notion of ‘necropolitics’ refers to life reduced to its bare existence, in other words, to life at the verge of death. While, as suggested by Marina Grzinic, Foucault's biopolitics as mode of governmentally can be described in an axiomatic way as “make live and let die”, in Mbembe' s necropolitics this expression is rephrased as to "let live and make die".

In this specialist course, we study the following research questions along the paradigm shift from biopolitics (Foucault) to necropolitics (Mbembe):

What does the implementation of Mbembe’s notion of necropolitics mean with regard to art studies and migration studies?

How does necropolitics account for the ways in which the political, under the guise of the fight against terror, or the normative theories of democracy, demarcate the border of Fortress Europa? How does necropolitics account for the ways in which the ‘migrant as other’ is divested of political status and is reduced to what the Italian philosopher Girorgio Agamben would call “bare life”? How is their state of exception inscribed along normative theories of democracy and neo-liberalism?

How are these questions inscribed in contemporary works of art? How do these works of art trigger issues that invite the spectator to reflect on the residing necropolitics of Fortress Europa?

This course is for doctoral students in art theory and practice but also for other doctoral students whose research is situated within or relates to philosophy, post-colonial theory, gender studies, social science and performance studies as well as advanced MA students and practicing artists who's work relates to the course topic and/or who wish to further their theoretical knowledge in this direction.

To register for the course please send an email to

The course is free of charge, but registration is obliged. We cannot offer any compensation for travel and/or accommodation in Ghent.

For full corse program as well as any further question please contact

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