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The wayward route of undesirables: a critical experiment on migration

Grant number: 22/05525-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): August 31, 2022
Effective date (End): August 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - Political Theory
Principal Investigator:Andrei Koerner
Grantee:Raissa Wihby Ventura
Supervisor: Ina Kerner
Host Institution: Instituto de Filosofia e Ciências Humanas (IFCH). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany  
Associated to the scholarship:19/18523-6 - This is unjust! Undesired immigration and its stakes, BP.PD


Borrowing from I. Kerner's, D. F. da Silva's, and S. Hartman's respective projects, my first goal is to propose a "critical experiment" about the wayward lives of undesired immigrants. Guided by Hartman's "critical fabulations", I intend to counter-narrate the willful life of Moïse Kabagambe. The aim of this exercise is based on a methodological imperative: we must unthink the world, releasing it from the grips of the abstract forms of modern representation and the violent juridic and economic architectures they support. Through Kabagambe's affectability, I expect to address two fundamental ethical-political questions. The first one is about the possibility to decide whom one can cohabit the earth with - or their political democratic community. The second one is about how did it become possible to trivialize - in an age of rights - the fact that lives identified as undesirable (as rightlessness) are subjects of the violence infringed to preserve the principle of territorial sovereignty? My goal is to think-with feminist political theorists about a way to "listen closely"; a way to find "[a] tome of philosophy in a moan" (Hartman, 2019, p. 345). In a negative sense, the search is for a way to avoid "the colonial and racial presuppositions inherent to concepts and formulations presupposed in existing strategies for critical" theory (Silva, 2018; Kerner, 2022). It is as well a search for a way to navigate the perplexities of human rights in the age of rights (Gündodu, 2015). It is important to note that such dislocations might force us to reassess other forms of radical critique projects. The first one is part of the encounter between Hannah Arendt and the Frankfurt School in Seyla Benhabib's works; the second was recently presented by Bernard Harcourt in his Critique and Praxis. Benhabib proposes to renew critical theory through integrating critique, normativity, and utopia without giving up "the claim to truth, truthfulness, and reason in the struggle to fight for a 'free, self-determining society' (Horkheimer)" (Benhabib 2021:860). One should conceive critical theorization as always constrained by the "aim to comprehend the present as a contradictory social totality with transformative social potential" (Benhabib, 2021:862). For Harcourt, we must return critical philosophy to its task and true ambition, namely, to change the world, not just to interpret it. The train went off the tracks: It is time to (re)imagine critical philosophy and critical praxis for this century. The safe escape brought about by debates on knowledge, epistemology, and interpretation - about "crisis diagnoses" - no longer features on our horizon of possibilities. Or it should not feature anyway. A way forward would be to engage in a more self-reflective critical project. An imperative for action: What more am I to do? Having Benhabib's project on my horizon, I expect to address the apparent opposition between "imagination" and "fabulation", on one side, and "truth, truthfulness", on de other. The crux of the problem relies on the very chain between past-present-future and the limits of the "[l]inear temporality, as a rendering of separability" (Silva, 2022:94). How can we face the lives of those who are not here anymore, nevertheless, they're still part of the "unpayable debt" we hold regarding the past? That is precisely the case with Moïse Kabagambe. I intend to argue that the faculty of listening - the archive, the marginalia, the silences, the noises, and voices - is part and parcel of the search for balance between critique, praxis, and imagination. When we recognize the epistemological and critical value of listening closely, the critical question is no longer "What more can I do?", as Harcourt claims. Instead, the guide question becomes: What can we do when we heard the shout 'this is unjust'? Justifying this change and arguing for the faculty of listening between critique and praxis are constitutive elements of this proposal. (AU)

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