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Workshop: Affirmation and the Humanities

25.04.2022 - 26.04.2022

“Affirmation” shapes our present in a wide variety of contexts: While contemporary teachings of self-care, mental health and mindfulness praise affirmation as an efficient technique of the self, political theory has assessed it both as a danger to criticism and democratic debate and as a positive impulse for political movements. The reactionary appropriations of critical strategies originally stemming from the left – e.g. in the course of “denialism,” but also in right wing online activism – have meant that the uncritical and unreflective affirmation of the facts produced by the hard sciences often presents itself as a preferable, although not entirely satisfying, alternative. In the humanities, with the postcritical turn and the likes of Rita Felski, affirmation has gained relevance as an alternative to the prevalent pessimism of academic thought. Here, affirmation could be understood in terms of the legitimization of different uses of literature beyond the distanced criticality of the academic reader. This postcritical affirmation of affirmation as a legitimate concept for theoretical practices invites us to not only reflect upon our own methods and research practices, but also to consider in what ways affirmation might relate to the very subject matter of our research. With this in mind, the following questions act as suggestions as to how we might go about starting to think affirmation in the contexts within which we find ourselves: 

  • How, and in what different ways, can we understand the concept of affirmation?
  • How do these different understandings shape our research practices today?
  • What is the relevance of affirmation today (and how does this relate to its relevance yesterday)?
  • How do we relate to affirmation in our contemporaneity?

The workshop is a collaboration between PhD students at FSGS and Södertörn University Stockholm. Discussions will refer to a pre-circulated reader of drafts and materials. If you wish to participate, please register with Paul Wolff in order to obtain the required reader: paul.wolff@fu-berlin.de.

Zeit & Ort

25.04.2022 - 26.04.2022

April 25th, 1pm–5pm and April 26th, 10am–2pm
Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin
Room JK 33/121