In preparing my brief comments for this evening a handful of concepts kept circulating through my notes and mind. While they have appeared in my thinking processes before, Megan’s prompts encouraged me to consider them more formally, and how they might intersect with each other and with the generous parameters of this evening’s theme, “Global Networks”. The next few minutes will be an attempt to navigate through a series of ruminations on keywords, dipping in and out of my own research while also beginning to think about the potential usefulness of these concepts in deepening an understanding of the conditions under which the contemporary global economy, and specifically the maritime economy, functions and produces places in differentiated and uneven ways.
To kick off the fifty-year anniversary of “May ’68”, this opening working group meeting of the 2018 year turns its attention towards the often unlikely and frequently invisibilized coalitional bedfellows tucked in to the intersectional and transnational histories of Leftist movements of the 1960s, as well as the connections between such movements and “the new spirit of capitalism.” Unfolding such connections, our discussion January will start by taking up questions around the meanings of style, the polemics for and against violence, and the triangulations of race, class, and gender. How have we imagined and re-imagined the re-presentations of and the afterlives of ’68 over the past fifty years?
by Megan Hoetger
It has been a while since the “Global Networks” meeting was convened. The holidays have come and gone. A new year has begun. We are now living in the 50-year long shadow of 1968. It is cold and damp in the shadow. It can be very lonely in the shadow. Some huddle together in basements or bars or storefronts or saunas to find warmth, others set up post on their own, though not alone, in front of the brilliant glow of computer screens. And most, it seems, perform some combination of both, huddling together in the cold, dank shadow of ’68 that now glimmers with the flickering light of multiple mobile computer screens.
by Megan Hoetger
In 2014 I wrote a short essay entitled “Art, Cinema, and Life Outside the Imperial Ring: A Little History of the Austria Filmmakers’ Co-operative” for the architectural journal R1000 at UC Berkeley. I had just returned from my a preliminary research trip to Vienna in which I had found myself in a bit of a crisis: I just didn’t care all that much about the performance painting practices of the artists who were ostensibly at the center of my dissertation. With that added to the feeling of alienation I still had in the city which my own Jewish family had left (this was still only my second visit), I got so sick with anxiety and by the end of the month I was having trouble holding food down.
by Megan Hoetger
‘The state’, it turns out, is a rather rangy category, or container, that holds together a lot of conflicting ideas and competing belief systems. I don’t think that any of us at the “Questions of State” working group meeting ever thought it wasn’t this. We all came with different stakes. For as much as the nation-state’s function is to secure territorial boundaries, I knew when putting the meeting together that ‘the State’ was an almost hopelessly unbounded signifier and referent. But that, in part, is why it seemed productive to talk about it and hash out what we mean when we ask: what is the state? when is the state? and what are the states of the ‘state’ that we are thinking about when we say ‘state’?
The third meeting of the 2017-18 Critical Theory Working Group takes up the topic of “Global Networks.” The meeting will be co-facilitated by Bay Area artist and UC Berkeley PhD candidate Christian Nagler (Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies) and CUNY Graduate Center PhD candidate Elizabeth Sibilia (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences). Following from “Questions of State” as well as from Michael Hardt’s UC Berkeley campus visit at the end of October, “Global Networks” pans out from the contested form of the nation-state to the flows and frictions of the international and transnational informe. The conversation this month engages with the politics of representing, or making visible, the ways in which labor, bodies, and materials (both physical and informational) move through largely de- and unregulated international distribution routes. What are the different choreographies of capital, across matter, platforms, and oceans? How and where is circulation visible? And what would it mean/what would it look like to circulate, or move, differently?
by Megan Hoetger
I can look past many of the shortcomings of Michael Hardt’s recent UC Berkeley lecture and the workshop that followed. I can set aside the problems of scaler shift *and* shifts across kinds of scale; or the citational erasures of 70s feminist theory in the work (#notsurprised); or the inadequacy of the ‘immaterial’ as an accurate descriptor for any kind of labor anymore; or the lack of acknowledgement of distribution as crucial to a discussion of finance capital, or the cursory engagement with media technologies that would seem at the core of thinking through decentralization as a problem of/for representation; or, for that matter, the problems of representation and narrative — and specifically historical representation and narrative — bound up in a discussion of leaders at all. But there are some things that I cannot look past… fuck dialectical thinking. I want to live in a world of dialectical feeling.