There are many aspects that divide the end of World War II – and the Holocaust in particular – from the rest of human history and make it a moment of profound change in terms of our worldview. This conference intends to study, identify, and scrutinize the signs and conditions that led to (and still lead to) political regimes based on authoritarian and totalitarian practices – and what present and past forms, in art and in life, resist them. Our proposal is to explore this many-sided, seemingly impregnable shape through the obedience/disobedience binomial, seen here as a way of thinking about the experience of politics in contemporary societies, as well as a starting point for a discussion about the drift towards authoritarianism that creates states of exception undermining democracies. For this exploration, the conference aims to bring together students, researchers, and professionals from the performing arts, as well as from other disciplines interested in social and human sciences (philosophy, history, politics, religion and culture).

Hannah Arendt, in Auschwitz and Jerusalem (a text written in 1946), designates the image of Nazi Hell as the origin of the modern age, and as Catherine Naugrette underlines in Paysages dévastés (2004), states as a declared aim the duty to return to that history, so as to be able arrive at a new knowledge about man and found a new destiny. Zygmunt Bauman, in Modernity and the Holocaust (1989), refutes the idea that the Holocaust was a historical aberration, an unrepeatable episode. Confronting it as a window to modernity, he sees the Holocaust as a “unique and normal” event, a crystallization of Modernity and the practices of those he calls “Gardening States”. This floral metaphor serves to deal with States that impose a design on the landscape, just as a gardener imposes his design on nature. Thus, given the feeling of deregulation and lack of coordination in the world, a “Garden State” imposes organization and ordering, through a rational and deliberate activity. What is frightening is the realization that all Modern States can correspond to the classification of “Gardening States”. Theodor Adorno stated (in Prismes, 1955), with a remarkable echo, that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric”. In “L’Heure du crime et le temps de l’œuvre d’art”, an essay where Peter Sloterdijk defines the modern age as the age of the monstrous, as the age where there is no longer the possibility of having an alibi before the monstrous global, the philosopher recalls that the 20th century “plays a culminating part in the time of the crime of modernity because, in its course, historical and regional alibis were increasingly eliminated so that all contemporaries could potentially be acquired as witnesses and accomplices of the man-made monstrous” (apud Naugrette 2004: 12). Giorgio Agamben, in Remnants of Auschwitz (2002), a work that evokes the testimony of Primo Levi and underlines the importance that prisoners in Nazi concentration camps attached to the need to survive so as to become witnesses of horror, refers to Auschwitz as “the devastating experience in which the impossible is forced into the real. Auschwitz is the existence of the impossible” (2002: 148).

This conference, part of the project “The Holocaust and Modernity: Violence and Obedience in Present Societies”, appears as a space for thought, reflection and practice, seeking to map the relational configurations that can be drawn when words like power, sovereignty, freedom, resistance, multitude, servitude and affections are linked to the concept and different meanings of the obedience/disobedience binomial. So we ask: Why do we obey? Who do we obey? What is collective obedience? What do we know about how we manage freedom and subjectivity? What are the causes of political obedience as an experience of servitude?

Data de início: 17/10/2021 12:00 am



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Este website é financiado por fundos nacionais através da FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P., no âmbito dos projectos «UIDB/00279/2020» e «UIDP/00279/2020».

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