Event Date: 10 March 2015
Room C303, Granary Building,
Central Saint Martins,
London N1C 4AA
The London Graduate School presents:
The 2015 London Graduate School Bloomsbury Lecture
Professor Rosi Braidotti (Utrecht) – Vectors of Affirmation
Prof. Braidotti received a doctoral degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne in 1981, and has taught at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands since 1988, when she was appointed as the founding professor in women’s studies. In 1995 she became the founding Director of the Netherlands research school of Women’s Studies. Braidotti founded the inter-university SOCRATES network NOISE and the Thematic Network for Women’s Studies ATHENA, and has held many prestigious visiting positions including Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor at Birkbeck College in 2005-6, a Jean Monnet professor at the European University Institute in Florence in 2002-3 and a fellow in the school of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton in 1994. Braidotti is currently Distinguished University Professor at Utrecht University and founding Director of the Centre for the Humanities.
Braidotti’s publications have consistently been placed in continental philosophy, at the intersection with social and political theory, cultural politics, gender, feminist theory and ethnicity studies. The core of her interdisciplinary work consists of four interconnected monographs on the constitution of contemporary subjectivity, with special emphasis on the concept of difference within the history of European philosophy and political theory. Braidotti’s philosophical project investigates how to think difference positively, which means moving beyond the dialectics that both opposes it and thus links it by negation to the notion of sameness. This is evidenced in the philosophical agenda set in her first book Patterns of Dissonance: An Essay on Women in Contemporary French Philosophy, 1991, which gets developed further in the trilogy that follows. In the next book, Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory, 1994 (second edition, revised and expanded, 2011), the question is formulated in more concrete terms: can gender, ethnic, cultural or European differences be understood outside the straightjacket of hierarchy and binary opposition? Thus the following volume, Metamorphoses: Towards a Materialist Theory of Becoming, 2002, analyses not only gender differences, but also more categorical binary distinctions between self and other, European and foreign, human and non-human (animal/ environmental/ technological others). The conclusion is that a systematic ambivalence structures contemporary cultural representations of the globalised, technologically mediated, ethnically mixed, gender-aware world we now inhabit. The question consequently arises of what it takes to produce adequate cultural and political representations of a fast-changing world and move closer to Spinozist notions of adequate understanding. The ethical dimension of Braidotti’s work on difference comes to the fore in the last volume of the trilogy, Transpositions: On Nomadic Ethics, 2006. Here she surveys the different ethical approaches that can be produced by taking difference and diversity as the main point of reference and conclude that there is much to be gained by suspending belief that political participation, moral empathy and social cohesion can only be produced on the basis of the notion of recognition of sameness. Braidotti makes a case for an alternative view on subjectivity, ethics and emancipation and pitches diversity against the postmodernist risk of cultural relativism while also standing against the tenets of liberal individualism. Throughout her work, Braidotti asserts and demonstrates the importance of combining theoretical concerns with a serious commitment to producing socially and politically relevant scholarship that contributes to making a difference in the world. Braidotti’s output also included several edited volumes. Her work has been translated in more than 20 languages and all the main books in at least three languages other than English.
Introduction by Professor Tina Chanter (Kingston):