Conference: Rethinking Cosmopolitanism: Africa in Europe – Europe in Africa

Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany
02 Feb 2013 - 03 Feb 2013

Decolonization has led to the rise of a new international order, which in turn continues to challenge and expose the insufficiency of classic concepts and definitions of modernity, culture, art and politics. Focusing on the reconfiguration of these concepts within the notion of cosmopolitanism, the conference will consider the consequences of the historical, cultural, and artistic entanglement of Africa and Europe.

The conference will revisit mid-Twentieth century debates through this prism of cosmopolitanism, invoking its potential as a notion that implies the possibilities of mutual co-existence and living with difference. Cosmopolitanism is conceived here to indicate the need for members of any community to imagine entities other than their own locales or national boundaries that will be more inclusive on a global scale.  An important focus of the conference will be the practice of artists who can no longer be classified and located either inside or outside the ‘west,’ or as occupying an in-between space. In that sense, the conference seeks to establish a platform for knowledge production to fill in the glaring gaps in understanding the cultural and political dynamics of a world in motion, and to focus on unearthing the root causes and consequences of new migrations in Africa and Europe.  Finally, in re-conceptualizing cosmopolitanism, as articulated above, even the apparently adequate conceptual ideas of ‘European,’ ‘Western’ or ‘African’ art may no longer be helpful. Perhaps these terms need to be dismissed, in order to open up a space of debate. This conference will consider more adequate definitions of current art practices and their respective ways of envisaging and defining their relationship to distinct, but unevenly connected worlds. List of Participants (amongst others): Hans Belting (Karlsruhe), Susan Buck-Morss (New York), Elizabeth Giorgis (Addis Abeba), Jeanette S. Jouili (Durham), Achille Mbembe (Johannesburg), Bahia Shehab (Kairo), Peter Weibel (Karlsruhe).



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