corona cancellation

Seminar at Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

22 - 23 Apr, 2020

Online, obviously. Frames of Reference, Coexistence and Planetary Dimensionality, a seminar over two-days, April 22 & 23, 2020. For those enrolled in the PhD program.

As the epistemic diagnosis of ‘planetarity’ deals a blow to the logics of globalization, how can such (propositional) knowledge come to transform social practices (know-how) at the level of lived coexistence? How can the consequences of ‘planetarity’ be narrated as an object of political and aesthetic contestation? Since, as Gayatri Spivak infamously quipped, we do not live on a globe (an abstraction), inferring rather that we can only live in worlds, how can and ought ‘planetarity’ to be worlded?

The underlying context of this seminar is that worlds are historically, geographically distinct spaces of inhabitation – ones constituted by particular frames of reference from which logics of behaviour, perception, epistemologies, and certain relational qualities derive. Frames of reference operate as perspectival constraints on any social system, evolving operations in adaptive conformity to them, meaning that engaging with the prospect of building otherworlds, entails constructing other frames of reference for that world.

Extending from Sylvia Wynter’s conclusion that as post-nuclear creatures now facing climate emergency – not to mention in the throes of a pandemic, for the first time in human history we are confronted with the demand to commit to a project of ‘the human’, and interspecies coexistence, made to ‘the measure of the planetary’. As societies become exponentially complex and interdependent, the problem of how to access this scale of reality in order to begin imagining how it could be configured otherwise. What other frames of reference does this scale of coexistence open up, including understandings of what and where the human is, within this configuration? How can we imagine maneuvering at this scale without subordinating localised differences to homogenizing forces (typical of globalization); how can we preserve the particular while upholding the planetary? What consequences does this scale bear on aesthetic practices, ones that hold a potential to render these new perspectives sensible, and amenable to localised experience?

Thematic Keywords (either explicit or adjacent to the seminar): Universality, Conceptual Alienation, Schematics, Navigation, Human Self-Conception, Episteme, Multi-Scalar Dimensions, Sociogeny, Gluing Operations, Cosmology, Scientific Image / Manifest Image, Perspectivalism, Situated Knowledge(s), Counterfactual Worlds, Discrete and Continuous, Copernican Trauma, Inhumanism, Artifactual Mind, Post-Westphalian Conditions, World-Building / Worlding, Species Being (Marx)


Sylvia Wynter Interviewed by David Scott, “The Re-Enchantment of Humanism,” in Small Axe 8, 2000. Read Scott’s preface 2-5 on the PDF; and 74-82 (book page numbers 191-199).

Cinzia Arruzza, “Capitalism and the Conflict over Universality: A Feminist Perspective,” in Philosophy Today, Vol. 61, Issue 4 (Fall 2017).

Ato Sekyi-Otu, “Is She Not Also a Human Being,” chapter in Left Universalism: Africacentric Essays, (New York: Routledge, 2019), 1-57

Ernesto Laclau, “Constructing Universality,” in Contingency, Hegemony, Universality, (New York: Verso, 2000) – Deconstructing Classes section until the end pages 17-27 (book pages 296-306)