Three conversations and a reading session for unconfined thinking is an online independent programme, that was organised at the beginning of April, starting from distinct aspects in the current global situation. Elizabeth A. Povinelli (on Virus and Interdependence of Lives); Shahram Khosravi (on Pandemic and Politics of Borders); a reading session based on Astrida Neimani’s Hydrofeminism: or, on Becoming a Body of Water, guided by Paul Maheke; and a conversation with Denise Ferreira Da Silva (on The Logics of Exclusion and Obliteration in Self-Isolation).
In times of self-confinement, the four video-conversations connected rooms in different locations in the world, and live-streamed to collectively — and unconfinedly — think the present. The title of the program is inspired by the eponymous 1995 B-movie. Set in the fictional Hotel Mon Signor in Los Angeles, Four Rooms is composed of four chapters directed by four directors, and it follows a bellhop — impersonated by Tim Roth — while interacting through room service with four different customers, in a collective fresco of global travellers, in sharp opposition with the current situation. Four Rooms is a program conceived and moderated by Daniel Blanga Gubbay, and fictionally hosted, as an online fictional hotel, by the narrative of الخان - The Khan.
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In her latest book, Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism, Elizabeth Povinelli focuses on Geontopower, as set of discourses used in late liberalism to maintain or shape the distinction between Life and Nonlife. The invitation for this conversation starts from the virus as a figure living in a gray area: “The virus confuses and levels the difference between Life and Nonlife while carefully taking advantage of the minutest aspects of their differentiation”. The conversation also proposes that the virus did not come towards us, but we have looked for it, in extraction logics. Finally, it analyses the Anthropocene as a concept that, by assessing the human being at the core, negates the agency to other forms of Life and Nonlife, and how eventually the virus, and its agency and impact on a global level, might oblige us to rethink the concept.
Shahram Khosravi is a Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University, and the author of several books including “Illegal” Traveller: An Auto-Ethnography of Borders, as well as the initiator of Critical Border Studies. The invitation for this conversation titled Pandemic and Borders starts from a sentence quoted by Khosravi “some borders are no longer situated at the borders at all”, but at the core of our cities. How does the current situation reinforce borders inside society, among those who “belong” and “do not belong” to the community? Khosravi reads a text he recently wrote, “Mobility in the time of Coronavirus”, starting from a recent conversation with Hamed, one of the three million children in Iran who earn their livelihood through working on the streets. In the interview he analyses how the current health emergency is used by countries — it is the case in Iran — to police the presence of foreign citizens inside the country.
Denise Ferreira da Silva lives and works on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Musqueam First Nation, in Vancouver, where she is Professor and Director of the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice. This conversation analyses the political use of the pandemic, and its attempt to nourish the racist and capitalist discourse: from the international rise in anti-Asian violence and racism, to the French proposal of vaccine-testing in sub-Saharan Africa. The conversation focuses on the logics of Exclusion and Obliteration, traced by Ferreira da Silva in Toward a Global Idea of Race, to see how, while being too often presented as a democratic disease, the virus highlights on the contrary social injustice and colonial heritage, by redefining practices of exclusion and standardisation of inequalities.