Politics of Life and Death

The concepts of biopolitics and necropolitics have become fundamental in understanding the contemporary political management of bodies and populations within the context of global neoliberal economy. Whereas the modern utopia promoted a heroic (re-)productive and healthy subject, the colonial and capitalist technologies of power relied upon the very materiality of vulnerable and sensitive bodies. This research thread explores the museum as one of the technologies governing life and death, and its formation of norms, practices of correction, exclusion, and disciplining that contribute to the production of "normal" subjects in terms of gender, sexuality, class, race or disability.

Contemporary forms of subjugation and political resistance cannot be understood without thinking about the new assemblage between sovereign power, modern technologies of management of life and death that work with terror, ecological destruction, social disposability, economic insecurity, and global war. Possible new internationalism and reformulation of governance require the questioning of hegemonic relationships between subjectivity, power and death, patriarchal-colonial reasoning and violence, with the aim to collectively invent new ways of living.

Data Visualisation on Artists' Migrations. Research in Progress
Christiane Berndes, Joost Grootens
Mapping Collections is a data visualisation, initiated by L'Internationale as a tool in progress. It is based on data about the migrations of artists, represented in the collections of L'Internationale partners. The information is based on data from the different collection information systems of the partners, complemented with research on a selected group of individual artists. To contextualise their movements, we created a timeline with important or influential historical events. This historical timeline is given to complement the artists' biographies and speculate on their possible reasons for migrations, whether it is political, economic or personal.
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The Mediterranean: A New Imaginary
Adrian Lahound
The climate may well remain operative in writing Mediterranean history, but when that climate becomes man-made, what kinds of consequences does it hold for historical narration? The problem that organises today's Mediterranean is of a different order, an order of superimposition and conflation. It is a problem that binds together the consequences of Western industrialisation, global carbon emissions, aerosol dispersion patterns, sea surface temperatures, monsoons, precipitation, pastoralists, herders, farmers, cultivars, migratory routes, treaties, coast guards, statistical models, satellite imagery, and detention centres.
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The "Refugee Crisis" and the Current Predicament of the Liberal State
Denise Ferreira da Silva
What we find in the global present, in the nationalist challenges to the liberal states that find excuses in the recent "refugee crisis", is how raciality (racial difference and cultural difference) function as an ethical device – which checked the universality attributed to the human being and law. It enables the collapse of the administration of justice into law enforcement (with distinct levels of lethality) – when its tools are deployed to write the global/ racial subaltern as an affectable I, or as a modern subject that thrives in violence.
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Necroaesthetics: Denaturalising the Collection
Anna-Sophie Springer, Etienne Turpin
Upon entering the beloved halls of a natural history museum, a strangely naturalised sensibility seems to neutralise the scenography. Among the necroaesthetic presentation of various arrays of taxidermy specimens – from rare turtles to soaring avifauna, from skeletal cetaceans to combative Arctic bears – one rarely feels any anxiety about their origins or the violence that rendered these once live beings into museological curiosities.
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Ecosophy and Slow Anthropology. A Conversation with Barbara Glowczewski
Barbara Glowczewski, Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Sarah Werkmeister
Past and current struggles of Indigenous people all around the world are inspiring to ponder narratives that oppose current dehumanisation and the real threat pending on the planet. The acceleration of history, in which ongoing events become archived before being finished, is a real issue to be thought about in a slowed-down, more thought through process, both within art and within cultural institutions. A slow museum should be especially attentive to collaborating with concerned populations and artists, Indigenous or not, who create new worlds in response to traumas of the past and the present.
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Beyond COP21: Collaborating with Indigenous People to Understand Climate Change and the Arctic
Candis Callison
Understanding what climate change means – and this is not particular to the Arctic, but perhaps most poignant there – turns on narratives of what exactly is in crisis. Alternative visions of future histories depend as much on evidence and predictions as they do on epistemologies, meaningful collaboration, articulations of what matters and why, and notions of what constitutes change and crisis.
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Let Us Now Praise Famous Seeds
Michael Taussig
Imagine a fantastic voyage from Norway to Istanbul in an old wooden sailing boat built for Arctic voyaging. This boat is carrying an ingeniously crafted mini-boat, like a chalice, containing a mere handful of old wheat and rye seeds found in a museum in Saint Petersburg in Russia and in the roof beams of a sauna in northern Norway. These seeds are like jewels.
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Late Subatlantic. Science Poetry in Times of Global Warming
Ursula Biemann
Art has a role to play in making these processes perceptible in a way that scientific data cannot. Art can send imaginative narratives across the abstract register of the scientific voice. How weather, ice and microorganisms mediate the world is turned into something visible and audible, and hopefully comprehensible.
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Climate Risks, Art, and Red Cross Action. Towards a Humanitarian Role for Museums?
Pablo Suarez
What can museums and artists do to help address the humanitarian consequences of climate change? The best answers, of course, can only emerge from the art community itself. At the practical level there can be new or revised disaster management plans and the obvious task of reducing the carbon footprint of art-related endeavours. At a deeper level, museums, artists and other stakeholders in the world of culture could help humanity by creating exhibits, installations, and other initiatives aimed at helping us all see the climate issue with new eyes.
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Imagining a Culture Beyond Oil at the Paris Climate Talks
Mel Evans and Kevin Smith of Liberate Tate
Museums have a specific role to play in opening up dialogue around our active response to the prospect of climate change, which would be to try and prevent the worst impacts from unfolding. Museum directors hold the key to significant decisions around buildings, curating, learning programmes – and funding. Right now, too many large cultural institutions around the world allow oil sponsors to brand their entranceways, their catalogues and their events. For the oil companies this provides a valuable social licence to operate, a guise of social acceptability masking the harmful impacts of the fossil fuel industry.
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Theorising More-Than Human Collectives for Climate Change Action in Museums
Fiona R. Cameron
Museum scholars, professionals and artists can progress real-world and scholarly change by undertaking what I call a series of "ecologising experimentations" that have the potential to re-work the possible relations between things and people via new types of museum practices and ways to conceptualise artworks.
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Islam, Islamists, and Violence, Part I
Yassin al-Haj Saleh
Two clear doctrines regarding the relation between violent Islamist groups and Islam are currently in circulation. A first widespread doctrine holds that these groups are Islam itself, or at least its accurate expression; a second widely held doctrine states in turn that Islam is entirely innocent in the matter. For my part, as opposed to these two, I will defend the hypothesis that ISIS and similar groups are produced under political, economic, social, and psychological conditions –both regional and international– that are susceptible to study and clarification, and that the process by which these groups are produced involves also the production of the very 'Islam' from which these groups derive themselves by necessity.
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Islam, Islamists, and Violence, Part II
Yassin al-Haj Saleh
The question under examination here is not whether or not it is possible for diverse religious movements to claim that they derive from a religious totality that is in turn diverse, convincing all others that they were born from it as its only legitimate child. Rather, the question under exploration is: "Do social, political or religious movements really need a legitimising authority in order to practice violence, and would they not do this otherwise?"
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Global Fictions, Local Struggles (or the distribution of three documents from an AIDS counter-archive in progress)
Aimar Arriola, Nancy Garín
We propose thinking about AIDS as both a co-narrative and the counter-side of globalisation. On one hand, we recognise AIDS as the object that best connotes the new globalised reality that appeared in the 1980s; the geographical scope of the virus, its synchronous emergence in around the world, and the rhetoric of flows and communication typical of the period, reinforced the idea of the world as a network of interconnected short distances. On the other, we suggest seeing AIDS as the great fault in the globalisation paradigm: that which shows up the promises of democratic equality that the global world-system failed to live up to.
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