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Ariella Aïsha Azoulay on how to unlearn imperialism and transform violence into the practice of shared care for our common world.

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay in a conversation with Ayesha Hameed and Astrid Schmetterling on how to recover the still present potentialities of the moment before imperial violence occurred and be with others, both living and dead, across time. The conversation will explore how to reorient our relations to history, citizenship, archives, museums and objects with regard to Azoulay’s recent book, Potential History (2019), as well as her current research focusing on the Maghreb.

This event is associated with the Culture, Memory and Futurity research cluster. In this cluster, we explore the ways in which the present is structured by a relation to the past and the future. We attend to memory as a collective as well as an individual faculty: something that, in a globalized environment, is produced across geographical, cultural and political borders. We also focus on the various ways in which memory might be blocked (by trauma, or by unconscious and/or political repression), an interest in how disavowed and blocked memories can function as ‘residual culture’ and ‘hauntological’ spectres and, indeed, how the past might itself be ‘re-fictioned’ within the present.

Some research approaches the future as another kind of spectre and fiction impinging upon the present. Where afro- and other new futurisms are concerned, a key preoccupation is the role that various projections and imaginations of the future can play to break us out of present delimitations.

Ariella Aïsha Azoulay is Professor of Modern Culture and Media and the Department of Comparative Literature, Brown University. She is also a curator and documentary film maker. Her books include Potential History – Unlearning Imperialism (Verso, 2019); The Civil Contract of Photography (Zone Books, 2008); From Palestine to Israel: A Photographic Record of Destruction and State Formation, 1947-1950, (Pluto Press, 2011); The One State Condition: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and the River (with Adi Ophir, Stanford University Press, 2012). Her films include Un-documented: Undoing Imperial Plunder (2019) and Civil Alliances, Palestine, 47-48 (2012) and her recent exhibition, Errata (2019) was shown at the Tapiès Foundation, Barcelona and HKW, Berlin.

Ayesha Hameed is Co-Programme Leader of the PhD in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths University of London. Since 2014 her multi-chapter project 'Black Atlantis' has looked at the Black Atlantic and its afterlives in contemporary illegalized migration at sea, in oceanic environments, through Afrofuturistic dancefloors and soundsystems, and in outer space. Recent exhibitions include Liverpool Biennale (2021), Gothenburg Biennale (2019), Lubumbashi Biennale (2019) and Dakar Biennale (2018). She is co-editor of Futures and Fictions (Repeater 2017) and co-author of Visual Cultures as Time Travel (Sternberg/MIT forthcoming 2021).

Astrid Schmetterling is Senior Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths. Her research focuses on the relation between history, culture and memory and is informed by the insights of postcolonial and transcultural studies. In this context, she is interested in contemporary international art practices, as well as in early 20th century German culture. Her publications include Charlotte Salomon: Bilder eines Lebens (Jüdischer Verlag im Suhrkamp Verlag, 2017) and Visual Cultures as Recollection (with Lynn Turner, Sternberg Press, 2013).

This event is part of Visual Culture Public Programme 2021

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