Presentations, discussion

Conference: Whose Universal?

Sat, Jul 2, 2022
Akademie der Künste (Hanseatenweg)
3–8.15 pm
Free admission
Sun, Jul 3, 2022
Akademie der Künste (Hanseatenweg)
3–8 pm
Free admission

More about the program and live stream at:

Rajkamal Kahlon, detail from "You've Come a Long Way, Baby!" from the Double Take Series, 2011

There is a fundamental paradox at the heart of modernity. A conference on humanist ideals and colonial reality.

Whereas the modern revolutions claim to have fought to eliminate distinctions of class, caste, rank, or status, modernity is also the epoch that instituted the concept of racial difference. This set of mutually inconsistent claims – all human beings are equal; some human beings can be “justly owned”– is usually brushed aside as the death throes of a pre-modern order. On the contrary, race and racism, unlike xenophobia or sectarianism, are “distinctly modern ideas.” Racism is not a deviation from universalist ideals; it is baked into its Enlightenment technologies.

In recent years, European governments have apologized to their former colonies. Yet to this day, the legacies of colonialism and, not least, persisting colonial formations in contemporary theory, still remain largely unquestioned. The second part of the conference Whose Universal? argues that what is reductively dismissed as mere identity politics is at the core of all the political struggles of modernity.

With Siraj Ahmed, Sladja Blažan, Katrine Dirckinck-Holmfeld, Priyamvada Gopal, Max Jorge Hinderer Cruz, Zakiyyah Iman Jackson, Darla Migan, Prabhat Patnaik, A. Dirk Moses, Utsa Patnaik, Rasha Salti, Kerstin Stakemeier, Françoise Vergès

Organized by Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) in collaboration with the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art
Curated by: Ana Teixeira Pinto, Anselm Franke

Organized by HKW in collaboration with the 12th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art