Markus Hallensleben – Deconstructing Eurocentric politics of belonging

Thursday November 12, 2020
10:00 AM - 11:30 AM

Deconstructing Eurocentric Politics of Belonging through Literary and Visual Narratives of Plural Relations

An online talk by:
Dr. Markus Hallensleben
Associate Professor, UBC Department of Central, Eastern and Northern European Studies

Thursday, November 12, 2020
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM (PST)

[ Abstract ]
My talk will discuss literary and visual narratives of plurality that suggest a relational, intersectional way of connecting cultures. These narratives are often directed against hegemonial discourses of belonging and can be seen as counter narratives to Eurocentrism, colonialism, sedentarism and patriarchalism. They can, nevertheless, be place based and vernacular, and at the same time promote cosmopolitanism and super-diversity. Whether they are earth based, as in the installations and performances of Otobong Nkanga, or bodily centred, as in the writings of Billy-Ray Belcourt, they make us aware of the problematic and violent politics of seeing the land and the people as resources, rather than listening to their voices as necessarily corrective sources for a societal change. Similarly, new narratives of a postmigrant society and “Radical Diversity” (Max Czollek) have emerged in German-language texts and films that deconstruct a Eurocentric politics of belonging. By building plural relations between religions and cultures, they give refugees and immigrants agency and openly criticize socio-political concepts of integration that are built on the principle of a dominant and “guiding culture”. I will analyse these narratives under the assumption that cultural identities are constructed performatively and that cultures have to be seen dynamic and confluent. However, being myself entangled as an uninvited guest and settler here in Vancouver, my goal is not to compare similar political activisms coming from different cultural backgrounds, I rather look for queer narratives of self-governing, self-determination and self-precarity. Finally, I will ask how we can, with the words of Chantal Mouffe, “transform an antagonism into an agonism” (Hegemony, Radical Democracy, and the Political, 2013) and aim for a scholarly activism that won’t reiterate Eurocentrism within and outside Europe.