April 30, 2015

On Reproduction: Lectures by Federici, Rolnik, Stengers, and Black Panther Party Women

Art & Education
Video stills in order of appearance: (1) “Voices of Black Panther women,” 1990. (2) “Suely Rolnik: Beyond Colonial Unconscious,” 2012. (3) “Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics: Learning To Think With Sciences, Peoples and Natures,” 2012. (4) Silvia Federici, “Women, Reproduction, and the Construction of the Commons,” 2013.*

Selected by Noura Wedell, this month’s Video School provides a loose foray through different viewpoints on reproduction. The featured videos approach this question from various perspectives, ranging from a gendered take on the commons, through issues in anthropology, the philosophy of science, and political organization.


Women, Reproduction, and the Construction of Commons by Silvia Federici
This lecture looks at responses to rising pauperization, and to situations of extreme political and economic repression under neoliberalism. The well-known Italian feminist Silvia Federici argues that a gendered perspective is fundamental, centering the idea of the commons on the question of reproduction. Looking at women’s organizations, she shows how situations of endangered individual survival can be transformed if lived cooperatively.

Beyond Colonial Unconscious by Suely Rolnik
Suely Rolnik is interested in an ethics of body-knowing. She explains the importance for the Tupinamba tribe of Brazil of maintaining the anthropophagic principle in response to the colonial invasion by the Portuguese. Indeed, by devouring alterity, the Tupinamba could exorcise the danger of succumbing to the unconscious suppression of the body, which for Rolnik is the essence of the identity principle that rules the production of the culture of the colonizer.

Cosmopolitics: Learning To Think With Sciences, Peoples, And Natures by Isabelle Stengers
Faced with the irruption of Gaia under the form of ecological transformation, if not catastrophe or cataclysm, Isabelle Stengers argues that we must reclaim modernity and posit relevance, rather than authority or objectivity, as central. She means to respond to a breach of trust, the fact that intellectuals and institutions of knowledge production almost never answer the question the future will ask of us: “You knew, but did nothing.” By reclaiming modernity, Stengers shows how knowledge, rather than being a method of conquest, can return to being a collective adventure.

Voices of Black Panther Women
Held in 1990 at the University of California, Berkeley, this panel provides an important historical document portraying the often under-acknowledged role that women played in the Black Panther Party, not only as lieutenants and soldiers in its armed wing, but also as caretakers, secretaries, artists, writers, pedagogues, administrators, cooks, and organizers.


Noura Wedell is a writer, translator, and an editor for Semiotext(e). Her research centers on writing and visual art with a focus on questions surrounding language, materiality, and politics. She has recently published a book coedited with French art historian Katia Schneller, Investigations: The Expanded Field of Writing in the Works of Robert Morris.


Video School features lectures and conversations chosen by artists and thinkers on issues relevant to their practice and/or contemporary artistic discourse. Organized thematically and highlighting current topics, Video School responds to the proliferation of educational videos circulating online selecting content pertinent to viewers.


*Video stills in order of appearance: (1) “Voices of Black Panther women,” University of California, Berkeley, 1990. (2) “Suely Rolnik: Beyond Colonial Unconscious,” Tate Modern, 2012. (3) “Isabelle Stengers, Cosmopolitics: Learning To Think With Sciences, Peoples and Natures,” Saint Mary’s University, 2012. (4) Silvia Federici, “Women, Reproduction, and the Construction of the Commons,” Museum of Arts and Design, 2013.

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