The Critique of Violence Now

June 16-19, 2018
Rijeka, Croatia
Petar Bojanić, Professor of Philosophy; Director, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, University of Belgrade, Serbia; Director, Center for Advanced Studies Southeast Europe, University of Rijeka, Croatia
Judith Butler, Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature; Co-Director, International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Marc Crépon Professor of Philosophy, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, France
Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky, Professor of Media and Gender Studies, Ruhr-University, Bochum, Germany
Başak Ertür, Lecturer, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Peter Fenves, Joan and Serapta Harrison Professor of Literature, German and Comparative Literature, Northwestern University, USA
Anne-Lise François, Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Dario Gentili, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Philosophy and Communication Studies, University of Roma Tre, Italy
Julia Ng, Lecturer, English and Comparative Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London
Pablo Oyarzún, Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics, Universidad de Chile, Santiago
Massimo Palma, Assistant Researcher of Philosophy, University Suor Orsola Benincasa, Naples, Italy
Michelle Ty, Assistant Professor of English, Clemson University, USA
Logistical Schedule
Conference Program
Walter Benjamin, “Critique of Violence,” in Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913-1926, ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings, Belknap/Harvard University Press, 1996. 
Guide to English translation
Original German version
2018 CAS SEE Summer School, “Critique of Violence Now: From Thinking to Acting against Violence” Program
Saturday, June 16
5:00 – 7:00 PM
Group convenes for introductions, planning meeting, and discussion of existing and future projects.
Sunday, June 17
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
1.) Opening paragraph on law and justice, focusing on the means/ends distinction, explicating the meaning of critique for this essay. (Peter Fenves)
2.) Paragraphs 2-3: The problem of natural law. (Massimo Palma)
3.) Paragraphs 4-6: “The question of the justification of certain means that constitute violence”: the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate violence; the introduction of legal violence as a problem; violence of the law and violence outside the law. (Julia Ng)
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Lunch Break
2:00 – 5:00 PM
4.) Paragraphs 7-8: Introduction of class struggle and the strike, its relation to “pure means” and to non-violence; its relation to military law; the introduction to law-making in relation to Sorel’s Reflections on Violence. (Marc Crépon)
5.) Paragraphs 9-11: The police, its ghostly presence; transition to the non-contractual character of non-violent resolution, its relation to language and understanding; the relation between parliamentary power and violence; the non-violence as “unalloyed means” or “pure means.” (Dario Gentili and Başak Ertür)
Monday, June 18
9:30 AM – 12:30 PM
6.) Paragraphs 12-13: Non-violent resolution of conflict; techniques of civil agreement; the prohibition of fraud, “a policy of pure means,” the general strike. (Anne-Lise François)
7.) Paragraphs 14-17: Violence imposed by fate, the nonmediate function of violence, transition to mythic violence and the unwritten law and its relation to retribution; fate and the introduction of the mythical; the distinction between mythical and divine violence, the examples of Niobe and Korah. (Astrid Deuber-Mankovsky and Michelle Ty)
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM
Lunch Break
2:00 – 5:00 PM
8.) Paragraph 18: Divine power and “educative power”; Judaism and the commandment against killing; the doctrine of self-defense; the condition of “man”; the question of sacred life. (Judith Butler)
9.) Paragraph 19: The formulation of the critique of violence as the philosophy of its history; the breaking the cycle of the dialectical rising and falling of law-making and law-preserving violence. How to name that break, that “attack on law”? The expiatory power of violence; its invisibility; the final speculations on “true war’” and “divine violence.” (Pablo Oyarzún)
6:00 PM
Opening of 2018 CAS SEE Summer School, “Critique of Violence Now: From Thinking to Acting against Violence”
Lecture on “Interpreting Non-Violence” by Judith Butler
National Theatre Ivan Pl. Zajc, Verdieva 1, Rijeka
8:00 PM
Cocktail reception with hors d’oeuvres following the play.
Tuesday, June 19
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Closing meeting: Informal discussion of the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs and future plans for collaboration.
University building, 8. Floor, room 804, Trsat Campus, Radmile Matejcic 5, 51000 Rijeka
Participant Biographies

Petar Bojanić (ordinary professor) studied philosophy at the University of Belgrade and at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (Paris), where he received his D.E.A. for a work on “La figure de la paix chez Levinas et Kant” (supervised by Jacques Derrida) in 1997. In 2003, he received his Doctorat de 3e cycle from the University of Paris X (Nanterre) for his dissertation “La guerre (dernière) et l’institution de la philosophie” (Dissertation committee: E. Balibar, G. Bensussan, J. Derrida, and J-L. Nancy). Bojanić is the director of the Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory (IFDT) at the University of Belgrade, where he has been a fellow since 2005. Bojanić directs the Centre for Ethics, Law and Applied Philosophy (CELAP) in Belgrade, and the Center for Advanced Studies – South East Europe (CAS) at the University of Rijeka. He has held numerous fellowships and visiting professorships, including at the Society for Humanities at Cornell University, the Centre for Modern Thought at the University of Aberdeen, the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna and Torino, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Bonn. The translation of his book Violence et Messianisme. Paris–Milano: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin; Mimesis International (2015) is being published this year by Routledge (London).

Judith Butler is Maxine Elliot Professor in the Department of Comparative Literature and the Program in Critical Theory at the University of California, Berkeley. She served as Founding Director of the Program in Critical Theory. She is the author of Subjects of Desire: Hegelian Reflections in Twentieth-Century France (1987); Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (1990); Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (1993); The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection (1997); Excitable Speech (1997); Antigone’s Claim: Kinship Between Life and Death (2000); Precarious Life: Powers of Violence and Mourning (2004); Undoing Gender (2004); Who Sings the Nation-State?: Language, Politics, Belonging (with Gayatri Spivak, 2008); Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (2009); Is Critique Secular? (co-written with Talal Asad, Wendy Brown, and Saba Mahmood, 2009); and Sois Mon Corps (with Catherine Malabou, 2011). Her most recent books include: Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012); Dispossessions: The Performative in the Political (with Athena Athanasiou, 2013); Senses of the Subject (2015); and Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (2015); Vulnerability in Resistance, (2016), edited with Zeynep Gambetti and Leticia Sabsay. Butler is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Andrew W. Mellon Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in the Humanities (2009-13). With Penelope Deutscher, she of co-directs the International Consortium of Critical Theory Programs. She has been elected the President of the Modern Language Association for 2020.
Marc Crépon is Professor of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and the Chair of the Philosophy Department. He is also Research Director at the National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) Husserl Archives. His research focuses on contemporary political and moral philosophy, violence, as well as linguistic communities in French and German philosophy from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Crépon taught philosophy at Nanterre University, and in Moldova. His publications include: The Vocation of Writing (2017); L’épreuve de la haine, essai sur le refus de la violence (2016); Le consentement meurtrier (2012); Elections: de la démophobie (2012), La culture de la peur, volumes I and II (2008—2010); The Thought of Death and the Memory of War (2010); Derrida, la tradition de la philosophie (with Frédéric Worms, 2008), and Les Géographies de l’esprit: Enquête sur la caractérisation des peuples de Leibniz à Hegel (1996).
Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky is Professor of Media and Gender Studies at the Ruhr-University in Bochum. Trained in Philosophy and German Literature, her research focuses on topics in critical feminist and queer theory, media philosophy and epistemology, temporality and media aesthetics, media anthropology and theories of play, as well as Jewish philosophy. She is co-founder and editor of the journal Die Philosophin. Forum für feminstische Theorie und Philosophie from 1990 to 2004. Her publications include: Queeres Post-Cinema. Yael Bartana, Su Friedrich, Todd Haynes, Sharon Hayes (2017); Situiertes Wissen und Regionale Epistemologie: Zur Aktualität Georges Canguilhems und Donna J. Haraways (edited with Christoph Holzhey, 2013); Der Einsatz des Lebens. Lebenswissen, Medialisierung, Geschlecht (co-edited with Christoph Holzhey and Anja Michaelsen, 2009); Lara Croft: Cyber Heroine (2005); and Der frühe Walter Benjamin und Hermann Cohen (2000). Deuber-Mankowsky taught at the Institut für Kulturwissenschaft at the Humboldt-Universität Berlin from 1996 to 2004, was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley (2007) and at the Centre d’Études du Vivant, Université Paris VII – Diderot (2010), senior fellow at the Internationales Kolleg für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie (IKKM) in Weimar (2013), and Max Kade Professor at Columbia University (2012 and 2017). She is an external affiliate of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought at Goldsmiths, University of London. She has organized various conferences as a member of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin, most recently “Conatus und Lebensnot, Konzepte des Überlebens” in 2015.
 Başak Ertür is Lecturer in Law and Co-Director of the Centre for Law and the Humanities at the School of Law at Birkbeck, University of London. She is the editor of Manual for Conspiracy (2011) and co-editor of Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward Said (2008), as well as Something Is Rotten in the State, a special issue of Theory & Event co-edited with James Martel (2016). Recent articles have appeared in Law and CritiqueTheory & Event, and in the edited collections Vulnerability and Resistance (2016), and Law, Violence, Memory: Uncovering the Counter-Archive (2016). Başak has translated work by Judith Butler, Lauren Berlant, and Val Plumwood into Turkish. She is also the co-director and co-producer of the documentary For the Record: World Tribunal on Iraq (2007).
Peter Fenves is Professor of Literature, German and Comparative Literature at Northwestern University. He graduated from Wesleyan University, studied at the Freie Universität Berlin, and received a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University. He has taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Johns Hopkins, Princeton and Harvard Universities. Fenves is the author of numerous books, including Walter Benjamin entre los filósofos (2017), The Messianic Reduction: Walter Benjamin and the Shape of Time (2010), Late Kant: Toward Another Law of the Earth (2003), and Arresting Language: From Leibniz to Benjamin (2001).
Anne-Lise François is Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is also affiliated with the Program in Critical Theory. Her first book Open Secrets: The Literature of Uncounted Experience (2008) identified an ethos of recessive fulfillment and satisfied or contented non-actualization in novels by Lafayette and Austen and poems by Wordsworth, Dickinson and Hardy declining capitalist modernity’s demands everywhere to make time productive. Her current book project Provident Improvisers: Parables of Subsistence in the Time of Enclosures traces the contradictory logic of modern capitalism’s ways of enclosing time and stocking reserves, and looks to alternative ways of living “without reserves,” or in relation to seasonal time, in various parables of subsistence found in Sappho, Bashō, Rousseau, Wordsworth, Clare, Constable, Thoreau, Benjamin, and Berger. Essays related to the book have appeared in the collection Anthropocene Reading: Literary History in Geologic Times (2017) and in the journals Qui ParleEssays in RomanticismMinnesota Review, and Postmodern Culture.
Dario Gentili is Associate Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy, Communication and Performing Arts at the University of Roma Tre. His research interests are in political philosophy, crisis, capitalism, the commons, and Italian theory. He graduated from the University of Rome La Sapienza and received a Ph.D. in Political Philosophy from the University of Salerno. He has served as research fellow at the DAAD Gast-Wissenschaftler, Düsseldorf University and postdoctoral scholar at SUM, the Italian Humanities School of Florence. Gentili’s publications include: Crisis as Art of Government (forthcoming); Italian Critical Thought: Genealogies and Categories (edited with Elettra Stimilli and Glenda Garelli, 2018); Italian Theory. Dall’operaismo alla biopolitica (2012); and Topografie politiche. Spazio urbano, cittadinanza, confini in Walter Benjamin e Jacques Derrida (2009). He edited the Italian translation of Walter Benjamin’s La Politica e altri scritti. Frammenti III (2015). Gentili is a board member of the Associazione Italiana Walter Benjamin (AWB).
Julia Ng specializes in the links between modern mathematics, political thought, and theories of history and language in the 20th century, particularly in the work of Walter Benjamin. She has published archival documents of Benjamin’s and Scholem’s meta-mathematical engagement with neo-Kantianism in a special issue she co-edited (with Rochelle Tobias) on Walter Benjamin, Gershom Scholem and the Marburg School, which appeared with Modern Language Notes in 2012. Her research is also concerned with the relation of philosophy to philology in regard to poetic modes of being, thinking, and acting since the 18th century. Other projects include a study of the mathematical infinite in modern German-Jewish thought, and a project on Daoism and capitalism based around Benjamin and Weber’s respective images of China ancient and modern. Ng is Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Thought. She co-chairs the Walter Benjamin London Research Network, and serves on the editorial board of the series Walter Benjamin Studies for Bloomsbury Philosophy, and the scientific board of the forthcoming series Critical Theory for Inschibboleth edizioni. She is also Research Associate of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. Ng received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University. Her doctoral thesis, on Benjamin’s mathematical revision of the formal possibility of Kant’s perpetual peace project, was awarded the 2013 Charles Bernheimer Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association.
Pablo Oyarzún is Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics and Director of the Bicentennial Initiative, a project for the development of the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the University of Chile. He is also director of the Central Research Seminar at the Art Institute of the Catholic University of Valparaíso. Oyarzún has also been a member of the Superior Council of the National Fund of Science and Technology (FONDECYT). His research revolves around metaphysics, ethics, epistemology and philosophy of language, aesthetics and the theory of art and literature, culture, education, and politics. The author of more than 400 publications, his recent writings in English include: “Fear and Abyss: Two figures of power” (2017); “External Things, the Subject, and Language: Lichtenberg and Kant” (2017); “On the Concept of Authority” (2012); and “The Writing of Courage” (2011) in Critical Review: The New Centennial Review. Among his books are: Baudelaire: la modernidad y el destino del poema (2016); Una especie de espejo. Swift: cuatro ensayos y una nota (2014); Razón del éxtasis. Estudios sobre lo sublime (2010); Rúbricas (2010), La letra volada (2009); Entre Celan y Heidegger (2005, 2013); El rabo del ojo: Ejercicios y conatos de crítica (2003); Tentativas sobre Matta (2002); La desazón de lo moderno (2001); Arte, visualidad e historia (2000, 2015); Anestética del ready-made (2000); De lenguaje, historia y poder (1999, 2006); and El Dedo de Diógenes (1996). Three forthcoming works will be published in the United States and the United Kingdom: Literature and Skepticism (working title); the English translation of Between Celan and Heidegger; and Language, Truth, and Justice. Three Essays on Walter Benjamin (working title). His translations include Epicurus, Pseudo-Longinus, Jonathan Swift, Immanuel Kant, Heinrich von Kleist, Charles Baudelaire, Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, and Paul Celan. He has served as visiting professor in Venezuela, Argentina, the Netherlands, Colombia, and the United States and given lectures in Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico, the Netherlands, United States, France, and Spain.
Massimo Palma is Assistant Researcher of Philosophy at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University in Naples, Italy. His research focuses on 20th century political thought, especially German and French. He received a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and a Ph.D. from the European School of Advanced Studies, in Naples. Palma teaches Philosophy of Law at the University of Naples “Suor Orsola Benincasa.” He has published books on Walter Benjamin, Benjamin e Niobe. Genealogia della nuda vita (2008), Eric Weil, Studio su Eric Weil (2008), Alexandre Kojève, Politica e Diritto in Kojève (2012), and French Hegelianism, Foto di gruppo con servo e signore (2017). He is the editor of the new critical Italian edition of Max Weber’s Economy and Society (2003-2018). Palma has also edited Walter Benjamin’s political writings, Senza scopo finale (2017), and Georges Bataille’s Hegelian writings, Piccole ricapitolazioni comiche (2015). He is managing editor of the journal Philosophy and Public Issues, LUISS-Unisob, Rome-Naples.
Michelle Ty is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Clemson University and a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in Berlin. She received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in English with a designated emphasis in critical theory. She is currently writing a book about Walter Benjamin’s solidarity with all that is abjected from the category of the human.