Thursday, 1 June 2017

FINAL - 08/06/17 Screening: Zur Person + End of Year Party

To live together in the world means essentially that a world of things is between those who have it in common, as a table is located between those who sit around if, the world, like every in-between, relates and separates men at the same time. 
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition



For our final session of the year, and our final session looking at Hannah Arendt, we will we be screening the 1964 interview between her and G√ľnter Gaus, shown on Zur Person / The Person. Then, to celebrate our year with Arendt we will do one of her favourite things - sit around a table (and eat!).

During Zur Person, Arendt discusses her relationship to philosophy, politics and her gender. Watching it gives us a rare chance to hear Arendt candidly answering questions about her political theory.

Following the screening, we will walk down to award-winning Kerala restaurant, Tharavadu, for an end of year meal. If you wish to come to the meal, please RSVP by Monday 5th June.

Where? LHRI Seminar room 1
When? Thursday 8th June, 5-7pm 
Reading: None!




Wednesday, 17 May 2017

#13 – 25/05/17: Thinking and Willing

To lose the appetite for meaning we call thinking and cease to ask unanswerable questions [would be to] lose not only the ability to produce those thought-things that we call works of art but also the capacity to ask all the answerable questions upon which every civilization is founded.
Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind

For our penultimate session we will be discussing Arendt's final and lesser-known work, The Life of the Mind.


The Life of the Mind is a challenging text in which Arendt seeks to redefine three mental activities: thinking, willing and judging. Although she doesn't quite manage to explicate the relationship between mental activities and action, The Life of the Mind provides a foundation for later theorists who have (including Julia Kristeva). It also offers important insights into the relationship between the individual mind and reality, answering back to Kant and Hegel.
We will be focusing on a section of the book that achieves all of the above, 'Mental Activities in the World of Appearances', and pairing it with Rei Terada's 'Thinking for Oneself: Realism and Defiance in Arendt'.
Refreshments will be provided.


Where? LHRI Seminar room 1
When? Thursday 25th May, 5-7pm 
Primary reading: H. Arendt, 'Mental Activities in the World of Appearances', from The Life of the Mind. PDF here.
Secondary reading: R. Terada, 'Thinking for Oneself: Realism and Defiance in Arendt'. PDF here.





Thursday, 4 May 2017

#12 – 11/05/17 Prof. Lyndsey Stonebridge presents "Inner Emigration/Civil Action: Testing and Changing Reality in Dark Times"

The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade.
Hannah Arendt, 'Civil Disobedience'

The refugee who can take only her experience with her when all else has been lost [...] is the model of a resisting and resistant subjectivity.
Lyndsey Stonebridge, 'The Inner emigration: on the run with Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud'

We are delighted to announce that our next session will be led by a special guest, Prof. Lyndsey Stonebridge, and will focus on Arendt's essays 'Civil Disobedience' and 'Humanity in Dark Times'.

Lyndsey is renowned for her work on human rights, Hannah Arendt and, more recently, law. She has published extensively on Arendt and the status of the refugee, and recently appeared on BBC Radio 4's In Our Time.

With Lyndsey, we will discuss the themes of civil disobedience and the law, migration and "inner emigration" under totalitarianism, and the relationship between psychoanalysis, Arendt and politics.

*** Please note that this session will take place at the earlier time of 12-2pm. ***
Refreshments will be provided.

Where? LHRI Seminar room 1
When? Thursday 11th May, 12-2pm 
Primary reading: H. Arendt, 'Civil Disobedience', from Crises of the Republic. PDF here.                                                 H. Arendt, 'Humanity in Dark Times', from Men in Dark Times. PDF here.
Secondary reading: L. Stonebridge, 'The Inner emigration: on the run with Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud' from Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism, ed by Matt ffytche and Daniel Pick. PDF herePDF of shorter version here.


Thursday, 20 April 2017

#11 – 27/04/17: Lying in Politics

When we talk about lying […] let us remember that the lie did not creep into politics by some accident of human sinfulness. Moral outrage, for this reason alone, is not likely to make it disappear.
–––Arendt, 'Lying in Politics'

The ultimate aim was neither power nor profit […] The goal now was the image itself.
–––Ibid.


In what promises to be an excruciatingly topical session, we'll be reading Arendt's 'Lying in Politics' next week, with Derrida's 'History of the Lie' as secondary material.

Arendt's essay responds to the 'Pentagon Papers', the U.S. Department of Defence's report on their involvement in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. These papers were leaked by The New York Times amidst the furore of the Watergate scandal; they exposed 'the extravagant lengths to which the commitment to nontruthfulness in politics went on at the highest levels of government' (Arendt, 4).

The response we find in 'Lying in Politics' is an interrogation of both the nature and the political uses of truth and lies. Prescient as ever, Arendt equips us with the tools for understanding post-truth, nationalism, and the way governments attempt to hold power.

What better to set you up for the coming months of Trump's narcissistic foreign policy, Erdogan's new mandate for authoritarianism, and May's manipulative, Brexit-fuelled electioneering?

Where? LHRI Seminar rooom 1
When? Thursday 27th March 2017, 57pm
Primary reading: 'Lying in Politics', from Crises of the Republic. PDF here.
Secondary reading: Jacques Derrida, 'History of the Lie: Prolegomena'. PDF here.



Wednesday, 8 March 2017

#10 – 16/03/17: Patrick Hayden presents "The Heart of Politics: Amor Mundi and Human Plurality"

Before drawing up the constitution of a new body politic, we shall have to create–not merely discover–a new foundation for human community as such.
–Hannah Arendt, concluding remarks to The Origins of Totalitarianism

For our next session we will be joined by Patrick Hayden, Professor of Political Theory and International Relations at St Andrews, who will present his paper "The Heart of Politics: Amor Mundi and Human Plurality". Prof. Hayden has published widely on Arendt, including: a monograph, Political Evil in a Global Age: Hannah Arendt and International Theory (2010), an edited collection, Hannah Arendt: Key Concepts (2014), and numerous articles and chapters, the most recent of which explores Arendt, refugees, and world-making. Hayden's other publications include Camus and the Challenge of Political Thought: Between Despair and Hope (2016) and the co-authored Recognition and Global Politics: Critical Encounters between State and World (2015).

**Please note that we are meeting at the earlier time of 3-5pm.**

Where?: Botany House, 1.03
When?: Thursday 16th March, 3-5pm
Primary reading: Chapters 12, 13, and Appendix from The Origins of Totalitarianism. PDF here.



Wednesday, 22 February 2017

#9 – 02/03/17: The Jewish Writings

 Even if the Jews were to win the war, its end would find the … achievements of Zionism in Palestine destroyed … The “victorious” Jews would live surrounded by an entirely hostile Arab population, secluded inside ever threatened borders, absorbed with physical self-defence to a degree that would submerge all other interests and activities.
Hannah Arendt, 'To Save the Jewish Homeland'


In this session we will explore excerpts from Arendt's so-called 'Jewish writings'. Starting with her incendiary essays from the early 1940s, we will trace her development of ideas about the struggle for Jewish emancipation, culminating in the prophetic 'To Save the Jewish Homeland'.

These writings bring out some of the questions of political violence and revolution that we have examined in previous sessions. They also document Arendt's views regarding Jewish nationalism as well as the Israel and Palestine conflict (which, by the time of 'To Save the Jewish Homeland' had evolved into an armed struggle).

Where? LHRI Seminar rooom 1
When? Thursday 2 March 2017, 5-7pm
Primary reading: Selected essays from The Jewish Writings, by Hannah Arendt, edited by Jerome Kohn and Ron Feldman. PDF here.
Secondary reading: ‘I merely belong to them’, Judith Butler's review of The Jewish Writings, in The London Review of Books (May 2007). Read it here.






Monday, 6 February 2017

#8 – 16/02/2017: On Violence

No one engaged in thought about history and politics can remain unaware of the enormous role violence has always played in human affairs.
Hannah Arendt, On Violence

Arendt’s dismissal of African histories, literatures, and languages as nonexistent subjects is troubling. [...] She presents Blacks as trapped in a dream world of escapism and suffering from irrational rage, while desribing a "potentially" violent backlash from the white community as perfectly rational. And as with her analysis of the violence of imperialism/colonialism and the violence of decolonisation, Arendt is far less condemning ofthe oppressors' offensive violence than she is of the defensive violence of the oppressed.
—Kathryn T. Gines, Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question

Hannah Arendt's On Violence (1970) is a short but multifaceted text. Pitched as a direct response to the events and debates of the 1960s, Arendt's reflections set out to critique the escalating civil rights and anti-Vietnam protest movements, Sartre's and Fanon's theorisations of violence, and the question of natural human behaviour and "aggressiveness". Importantly, Arendt's intervention articulates a central idea: violence and power are opposites. While violence can be justifiable as a self-defensive act, Arendt says, it is not a "legitimate" act of politics. Violence is only a means to an end, a tool, an instrument, rather than a political event of acting in concert. For this discussion we are particularly interested in situating Arendt's theory of violence within her broader understanding of action, and we also want to think specifically about what Kathryn T. Gines calls Arendt's "dismissal" of African American activists.

Where? LHRI, Seminar room 1
When? Thursday, 16th February, 5-7pm
Primary reading: Excerpts from On Violence, pp. 1-31, 43-56. PDF here.
Secondary reading: Kathryn T. Gines, Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2014), pp. 93-122. PDF here.


Thursday, 26 January 2017

#7 – 02/02/2017: On Revolution


'In a constellation that poses the threat of total annihilation through war against the hope for emancipation of all mankind through revolution [...] no cause is left but the most ancient of all [...] the cause of freedom versus tyranny.’

Hannah Arendt, On Revolution

In our next session we'll be grappling with "The Meaning of Revolution". We'll explore Arendt's challenge to the Marxist idealisation of the French Revolution, and her argument that we should take inspiration from America instead. Here, Arendt brings her conceptions of freedom and political action to bear, and proposes revolutionary constitutionalism as the means for emancipation. Is this the answer to the question, 'what happens the day after the revolution'? 

Where? LHRI, Seminar room 1
When? Thursday, 2nd Feburary, 5-7pm
Primary reading: "The Meaning of Revolution", from On Revolution. PDF here.






Wednesday, 11 January 2017

#6 – Guest speaker Simon Swift presents "Hannah Arendt, Tact and Critical Theory"

In the Jewish tradition there is a concept, hard to define and yet concrete enough, which we know as Ahabath Israel: "Love of the Jewish people..." In you, dear Hannah, as in so many intellectuals who came from the German Left, I find little trace of this. [...] Would there not have been a place [in Eichmann in Jerusalem] for what I can only describe with that modest German word – "Herzenstakt"?
Gershom Scholem, Letter to Hannah Arendt, June 23 1963

At stake in Arendt’s tactlessness [...] is a crucial, although often unacknowledged strand in her thought as a whole, namely the issue of the relation between politics and feeling. 
Simon Swift, 'Hannah Arendt's Tactlessness'

Our first session of 2017 will be run by guest speaker Simon Swift, director of the Northern Theory School and Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Geneva. Simon has published extensively on Hannah Arendt - from articles such as 'Hannah Arendt's Tactlessness: Reading Eichmann in Jerusalem' to his monograph Hannah Arendt, which is part of the Routledge Critical Thinkers series. 

Simon will be presenting on Arendt, tact and critical theory, covering issues such as the relationship between tact, tactlessness and theory, and the 'tactlessness' of Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem. His presentation will be followed by a Q&A, and then a group discussion of chapters 1, 3, 7, and 14.

Where?: LHRI, Seminar Room 1 
When?: Thursday 19th January, 5-7pm
Primary reading: Chapters 1, 3, 7 and 14 from Eichmann in Jerusalem. PDF here.