Etienne Balibar, “Critical Reflections on the New Definition of the Human Species”, Theory in Crisis seminar, 19 February 2021

Etienne Balibar, “Critical Reflections on the New Definition of the Human Species“, Theory in Crisis seminar, 19 February 2021 , 4:00PM – 6:00PM (CET) 

What is the role of critical theory today and who is it for? What kind of maps can theory provide in the context of entrenched capitalist crisis? These are some of the questions posed by this seminar series. 

In the aftermath of various mutations of twentieth-century ‘critical theory’ (Frankfurt School, ‘French Theory’, etc.), proponents of ‘postcritique’ have argued that critical theory has ‘run out of steam’. Instead, this seminar series starts from the premise that 21st-century crisis has also generated dynamic new ways of reconsidering these questions. A critical theory of the present is necessarily a crisis theory. 

In this session, Etienne Balibar will give a talk entitled ‘Critical Reflections on the New Definition of the Human Species’: 

The pandemic is crystallizing a new understanding of the Human as a “Species-being”, as well as the very category of the “species” itself, which connects biological, medical, anthropological definitions. A new material unity, a new commonality with other species, but also a destructive character and a rising to the extremes of anthropological differences themselves. As a consequence, biopolitics, cosmopolitics, and necropolitics become a single problem, which calls for a genealogy and a critical reflection  

Etienne Balibar teaches at Columbia every Fall semester. He is Professor Emeritus of moral and political philosophy at Université de Paris X – Nanterre and Professor Emeritus of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He also holds a part-time Anniversary Chair in Modern European Philosophy at Kingston University, London. He has published widely in the areas of epistemology, Marxist philosophy, and moral and political philosophy in general. His works include Lire le Capital (with Louis Althusser, Pierre Macherey, Jacques Rancière, Roger Establet) (1965); The Philosophy of Marx (1995); Spinoza and politics (1998); Politics and the Other Scene (2002); We, the People of Europe? (2003) ; Equaliberty (2014); Violence and Civility. On the Limits of Political Philosophy (2015); Citizen Subject. Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology (2017); Secularism and Cosmopolitanism (2018).

Part of the Theory in Crisis series – details here

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