Our political present brings to light often dissonant perspectives on Jewish and colonial histories of oppression, subjection, violence, and liberation. Both in academia and in public discourse, the frameworks and concepts with which we make sense of these histories often appear to be in competition, obscuring and limiting nuanced engagement with the concepts themselves as well as their applicability across contexts. This contributes to an already existing dynamic, especially given the fraught German discourse around the war in Israel/Palestine: while the analysis of the progressive left can leave gaps in moving from theory to practice, blanket vilifications paint so-called ‘postcolonialism’ as a body of theory supposedly inclined to antisemitism.
This reading group – grown out of an earlier series of gatherings and collaborations among a small group of friends adjacent to diffrakt – wants to challenge this polemic, reading instead for resonances while remaining attentive to points of friction. To do this, we will focus on concepts that are ‘problems’ for thought in regards to Jewish and colonial histories, such as paradigms of uniqueness, methods of dehumanisation, the importance and limits of notions like multidirectional memory, and struggles for and horizons of liberation.
We will read thinkers including Enzo Traverso, Esra Özyürek, Alexander Weheliye, Hannah Arendt, Reif Zreik, Areej Sabbagh-Khoury, Edward Said, Adom Getachew, Albert Memmi, Frantz Fanon, and more.
The group will meet once a month, Sunday from 6 to 8pm, starting on 07 April 2024. Each session will be chaired by facilitators from our core group or another volunteer who will introduce some of the key issues of the text(s) and guide the discussion. If you would like to join the group, please send an email with a short sentence about your interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. Since each session will build on discussion from the prior meetings, we encourage those interested in joining to commit to participating in every meeting.