Past Event

Three Catastrophes and the Remnant of Politics: Climate, War, Metaverse

October 19, 2023
6:30 PM - 8:00 PM
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East Gallery, Maison Française, Buell Hall

Etienne Balibar in conversation with Lydia Liu and Bruno Bosteels, introduced and moderated by Anupama Rao

Humankind is now affected in its entirety by three intersecting catastrophes which seem to destroy the very conditions of politics as we used to define it: a room for deliberation, project, resistance, civil conflict, governmentality. These are: the global warming and extinction of multiple species, the generalized state of war, and the digital revolution. Which ideas and instruments do we have to recreate the possibility of controlling our own collective destiny as citizens of the world?

Madeleine Dobie, Professor of French and Comparative Literature, will announce the Balibar undergraduate and graduate student prizes.

Etienne Balibar is Professor Emeritus of moral and political philosophy at Université de Paris X – Nanterre and Professor Emeritus of Humanities at the University of California, Irvine. He has been a regular visiting professor at Columbia University in recent years.  He has published widely in the areas of epistemology, Marxist philosophy, and moral and political philosophy in general. His many works include Lire le Capital (with Louis Althusser, Pierre Macherey, Jacques Rancière, Roger Establet) (1965); The Philosophy of Marx (1995); Spinoza and Politics (1998); Politics and the Other Scene (2002); We, the People of Europe? (2003); Equaliberty (2014); Violence and Civility: On the Limits of Political Philosophy (2015); Citizen Subject: Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology (2017); and Secularism and Cosmopolitanism (2018).

Lydia Liu is the Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities and former Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research centers on modern China, cross-cultural exchange, and global transformation in modern history, with a focus on the movement of words, theories, and artifacts across national boundaries and on the evolution of writing, textuality, and media technology.

Bruno Bosteels is Acting Dean of Humanities and Professor in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia, with a joint appointment in the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. His research covers a wide range of topics in literature, culture, and politics in modern Latin America as well as contemporary philosophy and political theory. 

Anupama Rao is Professor of History and MESAAS. She is also Director of the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia.

This event is co-sponsored by the Columbia Maison Française, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought.