The Critique of Violence Now

June 16-19, 2018
Rijeka, Croatia

The critique of violence is the focus of the fourth meeting of the conference cycle of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs. A small group of scholars will meet in Rijeka, Croatia with faculty and students from the Balkans to discuss Walter Benjamin’s essay “A Critique of Violence,” combining a close reading of the text with a discussion of the broader question, “what is the critique of violence now?” Topics include legal violence, the ghostly presence of police, the general strike, the biblical and Marxist dimensions of the text, the philosophy of history, critique, anarchism, life, and various forms and frames of violence.

One question is how the idea of critique changes when it becomes a “critique of violence”? Walter Benjamin asked this question in the early 1920s when he offered his own account of legal violence. Many of the traditional debates about violence and non-violence have presumed a common understanding of both terms: we were assumed to know how best to identify violence and how to go about justifying or opposing its use. We were asked to believe that the law is coercive but not violent.  What challenge, then, does the idea of “legal violence” pose to those traditional debates? And what forms does “legal violence” take now? What is the relation between spectacles of massacre, for instance, and forms of legal violence, including administrative violence, given that they are not equally visible? Does it matter how we understand regional violence (and how we designate regions) when we seek to answer this question? In addressing the topic “the critique of violence now,” we will ask how we might re-appropriate Walter Benjamin’s influential and controversial essay to illuminate the present political terrain.

 

Conveners

Petar Bojanić
Professor of Philosophy
Director, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade
Director, Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka

Sanja Bojanić
Assistant Professor, Academy of Applied Arts
Executive Director, Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka

Gazela Pudar Draško
Research Associate, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade

Adriana Zaharijević
Research Associate, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade