I got back earlier today from two enjoyable days at the University of Basel for the ‘New Developments in Theory’ lecture and the ‘Space, Territory, Literature’ seminar.
The lecture was on ‘Geopolitics, Geopower, Geometrics’ and the morning of the seminar looked at my work (especially ‘Land, Terrain, Territory‘ and ‘The Geopolitics of King Lear‘); and at Foucault’s ‘Des espaces autres’/’Different Spaces’. The afternoon comprised presentations of graduate student work on theory, literature and space – ranging from Joseph Conrad’s novels; to Foucault’s work on art and literature; to British travel writing and novels about different aspects of Europe; and landscape and culture. I frequently attend events where I come away with a list of things to read, but it’s not often that more are novels than academic texts. My thanks to Ridvan Askin, Daniela Keller and their colleagues for the invitation, arrangements and hospitality.
The seminar was not recorded, but I did record the lecture and will try to post it soon.
Urban Revolution Now: Henri Lefebvre in Social Research and Architecture. Edited by Łukasz Stanek, Christian Schmid and Ákos Moravánszky, it includes contributions by many leading Lefebvre and urban scholars.
When Henri Lefebvre published The Urban Revolution in 1970, he sketched a research itinerary on the emerging tendency towards planetary urbanization. Today, when this tendency has become reality, Lefebvre’s ideas on everyday life, production of space, rhythmanalysis and the right to the city are indispensable for the understanding of urbanization processes at every scale of social practice. This volume is the first to develop Lefebvre’s concepts in social research and architecture by focusing on urban conjunctures in Barcelona, Belgrade, Berlin, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dhaka, Hong Kong, London, New Orleans, Nowa Huta, Paris, Toronto, São Paulo, Sarajevo, as well as in Mexico and Switzerland. With contributions by historians and theorists of architecture and urbanism, geographers, sociologists, political and cultural scientists, Urban Revolution Now reveals the multiplicity of processes of urbanization and the variety of their patterns and actors around the globe.
A few books in recompense for review work – de Vries, Re-imaging a Politics of Life; the Philosophy and Tragedy collection; Magnusson’s Politics of Urbanism. Two books by two of Foucault’s collaborators – François Fourquet, Les comptes de la puissance and Blandine Barret-Kriegel, L’état et les esclaves. The new issue of RIPE and Roberto Esposito’s Immunitas - which was borrowed a long time ago…
Just published – Alison Ross, Walter Benjamin’s Concept of the Image.
In this book, Alison Ross engages in a detailed study of Walter Benjamin’s concept of the image, exploring the significant shifts in Benjamin’s approach to the topic over the course of his career. Using Kant’s treatment of the topic of sensuous form in his aesthetics as a comparative reference, Ross argues that Benjamin’s thinking on the image undergoes a major shift between his 1924 essay on ‘Goethe’s Elective Affinities,’ and his work on The Arcades Project from 1927 up until his death in 1940. The two periods of Benjamin’s writing share a conception of the image as a potent sensuous force able to provide a frame of existential meaning. In the earlier period this function attracts Benjamin’s critical attention, whereas in the later he mobilises it for revolutionary outcomes. The book gives a critical treatment of the shifting assumptions in Benjamin’s writing about the image that warrant this altered view. It draws on hermeneutic studies of meaning, scholarship in the history of religions and key texts from the modern history of aesthetics to track the reversals and contradictions in the meaning functions that Benjamin attaches to the image in the different periods of his thinking. Above all, it shows the relevance of a critical consideration of Benjamin’s writing on the image for scholarship in visual culture, critical theory, aesthetics and philosophy more broadly.
Tomorrow I fly to Zurich and then take the train to Basel for the ‘New Developments in Theory’ lecture and the ‘Space, Territory, Literature’ seminar at the University of Basel.
The lecture will be the latest iteration of a paper I’ve given a few times before, this time under the title of ‘Geopolitics, Geopower, Geometrics’. In the seminar there will be four sessions – the first on my papers ‘Land, Terrain, Territory‘ and ‘The Geopolitics of King Lear‘; the second on Foucault’s ‘Of Other Spaces’, which we will look at in English and French; and the third and fourth presentations of graduate student work.
If you happen to be in the area, registration details are here.