The Performativity of Matter: Decolonial Materialist Practices in/from the Global South
Ángeles Donoso Macaya (BMCC - City University of New York)
SOAS Senate House - S320
Start time:
3 June, 2018 at 11:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The presentations in this seminar center on artistic/political practices from the Global South that open up matter's performative potential to counter the invisibilizing effects of the Western humanist knowledge apparatus and create alternative logics of meaning and living.

Long abstract:

Karen Barad claims, "[P]ractices of knowing cannot be fully claimed as human practices, not simply because we use nonhuman elements in our practices but because knowing is a matter of part of the world making itself intelligible to another part . . . We do not obtain knowledge by standing outside of the world; we know because 'we' are of the world." Barad's stance illuminates how hegemonic practices of knowledge follow a clear (humanist) divide between the human and the material. This divide has a geopolitical correlate: as a rule, the South becomes raw and mute matter waiting for a meaning sanctioned by the "human" North. Yet there are numerous artistic and political practices that recognize in matter an active agent of knowledge, challenging both the Western subject-object opposition and the very division of power between North and South this opposition implies. These decolonial ways of approaching matter liberate matter's performative potential to create alternative logics of meaning and living. We are thinking, for instance, of contemporary political practices that follow cosmovisions based on non-instrumental relations between the human and the non-human, such as the Quechua sumac kawasay, or artistic practices such as Araya-Carrión's (Chile) or Zaharah Al-Ghamdi's (Saudi Arabia), which bring to the fore the eloquences of matter as agent of history and as witness of the enduring effects of neo-colonialism. This seminar welcomes proposals that, working from (neo)materialist, feminist, post-humanist and/or indigenous perspectives, explore practices that counter the invisibilizing effects of the Western humanist knowledge apparatus.