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(De-)Globalisation (Seminar)

Dozent/in: Ben Trott

wöchentlich | Dienstag | 18:15 - 19:45 | 13.10.2020 - 26.01.2021 | Online-Veranstaltung

Inhalt: Throughout the 1990s, scholars working across the humanities and social sciences, journalists and commentators, politicians, labour movements, artists and cultural practitioners, social and political activists, and many others, turned increasing attention – critical or otherwise – towards the phenomenon of ‘globalisation’. Working in the field of International Relations, Jan Aart Scholte traced the first English language use of the term to 1959, with ‘notions of “globality” as a condition’ starting to circulate in the 1980s. Similar terms came into use in the final decades of the twentieth century in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Finnish, Nepalese, Timorese and many other languages. For Scholte, globalisation was best understood in terms of the emergence of ‘transplanetary’ and particularly ‘supraterritorial’ social relations and connections. The wave of decolonisations that had taken place throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the liberalising reforms introduced in China under Deng Xiaoping from the end of the 1970s onwards, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, were all often seen as having accelerated processes of social, political, economic and cultural globalization. This was a period in which the mobility of capital, commodities, labour and humanity markedly increased. New information and communication technologies contributed to, or were at least caught up with, the rise of global (digital) cultures, new forms of community and of (hybrid) identity. And a series of challenges and problems – from the HIV/AIDS epidemic to anthropogenic climate change – came to be understood as global in scope. However, since the turn of the millennium, many have argued that globalisation has stalled – and some have even suggested that a ‘de-globalisation’ is underway. The emergence of new geopolitical blocs has sometimes been understood as representing a global fragmentation, just as borders appear to be growing in number and importance. Nationalist and ‘sovereigntist’ parties and politicians have been elected around the world. The processes of urbanisation that marked the development of industrial capitalism have continued apace throughout an era that has been marked by ‘post-industrialisation’; yet important counter-tendencies have also emerged, towards both ‘re-peasantisation’ (from China to Latin America) and ‘re-primarization’ (with a growth in agriculture, mining and resource extraction). Supranational unions and multilateral organisations that previously stood as symbols of a globalising world – from the European Union to the World Trade Organisation – have been plunged into repeated crises. The political ideology and the electoral coalitions that defined the ‘Third Way’ now appear almost everywhere in crisis – this was an approach most fully theorized by globalization sociologist Anthony Giddens and that was associated with the Blair, Schröder and Clinton governments. But it had also been adopted by governing parties around the world: from South Korea and Taiwan over New Zealand to Chile and Argentina. The ‘mode of regulation’ and the ‘regime of accumulation’ (to borrow concepts from the French Regulation School of political economy) which defined the era of post-Fordism and globalised neoliberalism also appear to be breaking down. And 2006-2008 saw a multi-dimensional crisis of global capitalism that has never been fully resolved: a food and energy price crisis, a crisis of ‘over-accumulation’, of credit and indebtedness, of legitimation and hegemony, and of ‘social reproduction’ (i.e. the capacity to meet basic needs and desires). Most recently, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, ‘just-in-time’ supply chains have broken down and many have demanded a return to domestic production in industries and sectors that have long been outsourced. This seminar engages with key interdisciplinary contributions to the theorisation and critical analysis of globalisation and its contemporary trajectories – including those towards fragmentation, polarisation, and ‘de-globalisation’. Over the course of the semester, students will engage with these questions from the perspectives of political philosophy and political economy, sociology and political theory, world-systems analysis and post-colonial thought, cultural studies and queer approaches to international relations. Students will read works by: Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Saskia Sassen, Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Immanuel Wallerstein, Leela Gandhi, Giovanni Arrighi, Paul Gilroy, Quinn Slobodian, Lisa Lowe and Kris Manjapra, Silvia Federici, Arlie Russel Hochschild, and Rahul Rao.

Forms of Extractivism (Seminar)

Dozent/in: Christoph Brunner

wöchentlich | Donnerstag | 14:15 - 15:45 | 12.10.2020 - 29.01.2021 | C 12.006

Inhalt: The seminar deals with the notion of extraction and discourses on extractivism in cultural and social theory from early colonialism to current forms of value extraction at the forefront of contemporary „politics of operation.“ Extraction concerns not only the hunger for and exploitation of natural resources but extends throughout the history of capitalism to forms of enslavement, exploitation under different labor regimes, and more recently concerns modes of data extractivism through social media and big data management as well as sensuous and emotional extraction of human and non-human activities. The seminar can be read as commentary and critique of recent discourses on the Anthropocene while at the same time foregrounding the different extractive operations constitutive of contemporary life in the ruins of capitalism. Extractivism as a theoretical term was initially deployed in critical cultural studies mostly addressing Latin American contexts (now termed neo-extractivism) the concept also provides a crucial tool for understanding an array of capitalist operations of the post-fordist, logistical and algorithmical structures of the present and potential critiques thereof. Working through the foundations of the intricacies between modernization-colonization, and the notions of primitive accumulation, the capitalocene, logistics and politics of operations, the seminar outlines extractivism as major force in the genealogy of capitalism as colonial enterprise. In parallel, and equally important, forms of local, networked, and translocal resistance have maintained a genealogy of struggles against extractive expansions on a global scale. By clarifying the main principles of extractive operations and their genealogies, the seminar will equally aim to attend to these forms of struggle, emphasizing an ethical as well as political relevance of non-sovereign forms of resistance and their pragmatist relevance for contemporary cultural politics. Non-Western forms of critique, queer and feminist perspectives and approaches from critical whiteness and race studies are an integral part to the seminar readings and materials. The aim of the seminar is to expand the breadth of extractive logics as a continuous current towards what Elizabeth Povinelli terms late liberalism and extractive capital. Extractivism as a mode of harnessing, capturing, stratifying and defining value is one of capitalism’s most powerful contemporary operations. By exploring the different deployments of the term, the divide of the human and more-than-human, of bodies and their sensuous environment, life and nonlife as well as material and immaterial will be challenged and reconsidered. Finally, the course aims at opening up a critical take on present capitalist operations of extraction on various frontiers and provides ways of conceptually analyzing and relating these different modes. It thus emphasizes a continuous dialogue with processes of (de)globalization.