RETHINKING NECROPOLITICS

This Fall we will explore necropolitics or the politics of the dead.  Necropolitics was initially defined by Achille Mbembe as a manifestation of sovereignty wherein "To exercise sovereignty is to exercise control over mortality and to define life as the deployment of manifestations of power." (2003) This can take the form of actual control over biological existence or that of social death, be it via exile or systematic exclusion from opportunity.  While not the immediate focus at its inception the issue can be turned to the question of "which lives matter" and which are to be considered excess or surplus. Reinhardt Koselleck provided a different though not unrelated understanding of the "politics of the dead" in his "War Memorials: Identity Formation of the Survivors" and in this light it could be argued that "necropolitics" is a more capacious category: one that applies to all disciplines concerned with the recovery of the past.  Extending beyond Koselleck or Mbembe, necropolitics can be seen as a positive means of constituting community through the practice of caring for the dead.  Here, burial, festival, memorials, and tradition play key roles.  This leads us to issues of memory and memorialization but also back to the question of who and what counts when counting the dead.  Over the course of this semester we will attempt to redefine the concept of necropolitics in light of recent work on questions of disposability (people but also things), extinction, fugivity, memory, animism, hauntology, retroactive ancestral construction, and post-mortem agency but also in relation to more traditional disciplinary approaches and issues.

All lectures begin at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted, and are held in the Daniel Family Commons, which is located in the Usdan University Center.

09/25/2017

Black Phoenix Rising: Death and Resurrection of Black Lives - GO

ANTHONY HATCH • Wesleyan 

10/02/2017

Bodies Visible and Invisible: The necro-politics of the Jewish Cemetery in the Life of Modern Thessaloniki- GO

THOMAS LAQUEUR • University of California, Berkeley 

10/09/17

Urban Marginality and the Ambivalent State in Latin America - GO

JAVIER AUYERO • University of Texas, Austin 

10/16/17

Gifts from the dead - Heritage, Historicity, and Receiving the Past- GO

HANS RUIN • Södertörn University

10/30/17

Necropower and the Politics of Black Fugitive Life - GO

AXELLE KARERA • Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Wesleyan 

11/6/17

Spectrality, Mestizaje, and the Afterlife of Racial Necropolitics

LAURA GRAPPO • Wesleyan - GO

11/13/17

Messianism in the Age of Animism

ACHILLE MBEMBE • University of Witswatersrand - GO CANCELLED

11/20/17

In Search of the Soviet Way of Death 

VICTORIA SMOLKIN • Wesleyan - GO

11/27/17

Commemorating Caesars at the Creation of the Roman Empire

JOHN BERT LOTT • Vassar College - GO

12/04/17

Waiting in Necropolitical Times

VICTORIA PITTS-TAYLOR • Wesleyan