Aesthetic practices—literature, film, visual and sonic arts, among others—capture and represent various aspects of economy such as gift, usury, or credit. They not only stage or narrate these economic categories and engage with them but they also document and resist the economic appropriations of sensory perception. The Economies of Aesthetics Initiative is directed by Peter Szendy. Read more.
Economies of Aesthetics
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April 5 and 6, 2019
Narratives of Debt gathered key thinkers in contemporary critical theory to explore the question of debt in an interdisciplinary perspective, ranging from the history of slavery to psychoanalysis, from literature to financial capitalism, from philosophy to cryptocurrencies. The conference was committed to examining the various ways of narrating—witnessing—the condition of being indebted and the historical rise of indebtedness as a mode of governance (each narrative entailing decisions about justice, ethics, politics). Debt itself is also considered as a narrative, i.e., a performative fiction that organizes time by linking past, present, and future in a diegetic chain. Money, if we define it with Deleuze and Guattari as “the means for rendering the debt infinite,” constitutes the backdrop of this economic narratology.
Co-organized by Peter Szendy (Brown University) and Emmanuel Bouju (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle and Institut Universitaire de France), the conference featured scholars from a broad range of fields. Speakers included Arjun Appadurai (New York University), Jennifer Baker (New York University), Anthony Bogues (Brown University), Raphaëlle Guidée (Université de Poitiers), Bonnie Honig (Brown University), Odette Lienau (Cornell Law School), Annie McClanahan (University of California/Irvine), Florence Magnot-Ogilvy (Université de Rennes 2), Catherine Malabou (Kingston University, London and University of California/Irvine), Eric Santner (University of Chicago), and Joseph Vogl (Humboldt Universität).
Full schedule with links to recorded talks is available on the website of the Cogut Institute.
The conference, presented as part of the Economies of Aesthetics Initiative, was co-sponsored by the Institut Universitaire de France and the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Brown University’s Humanities Initiative Programming Fund, the Cogut Institute for the Humanities, and the Departments of Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, French Studies, German Studies, Modern Culture and Media, and Philosophy.