Nov. 07, 2017. 4-6pm, Niedersachsensaal, Conti-Campus, Leibniz University of Hannover.
All over the globe right-wing politics and anti-gender tendencies are on the rise, questioning heterogeneity and the need for queer theory. That raises a number of questions. How do we—as individuals and as a society—engage in discussions with these movements without risking escalation? What can we gain, what can we learn from them? The more questions are asked, the more it becomes evident, Professor Antke Engel from the Institute for Queer Theory argues in her lecture on “Queer Cultures of Conflict,” that our society has to rethink its understanding of political conflict and activism.
Professor Engel has a PhD in philosophy and specializes in queer, feminist and poststructuralist theory as well as political philosophy and cultural studies. Recently, she has been examining how queer theory can enrich what she labels “cultures of conflict.” Her first findings she presents at Leibniz University Hanover in front of an audience of students and fellow researchers alike. Though she insists that her ideas are a work in progress, her central claim is very clear. She advocates a new, a queer, form of practicing conflicts in order to deal with heterogeneity, whose main concern is not the establishment of rights or policies but the dismantling of existing hierarchies. By doing so, conflict functions as an inevitable moment of political motion for her, which should be appreciated rather than dreaded and avoided. This conception of conflict is founded on Engel’s notion of “Queerversity,” a political strategy that relies on power-sensitive multiplicity and radical alterity.
Finally, Professor Engel calls attention to the Berlin-based project “Caring for Conflict” that urges young people to feel responsible for conflicts and to regard heterogeneity as a possibility, not as a threat. It works together with several schools and youth organizations, aiming to raise awareness for a transformative handling of conflict.
During her speech, it is more than obvious how much Professor Engel cares about the topic at hand, how much she enjoys tackling it, without ever resorting to polemics.
After her presentation the audience is free to direct questions at her, which Professor Engel meets with enthusiasm. There is no trace of superiority in her expression as she addresses the students, no sign of unease when she debates her arguments with other professors. It seems she has internalized the idea of cultivating conflict to the degree that she has become its very embodiment, its most ardent representative and a role model not only for scholars but for everyone who cares about conflict.
J. N. Kopischke