Discussion On Violence at HAU

Stefano Harney & Fred Moten

The field school students were asked to watch the pre-recorded lecture by American activist and scholar Stefano Harney and cultural theorist and scholar Fred Moten’s understanding of violence and attend the following live Q&A facilitated discussion. Harney and Moten's lecture on violence and follow up discussion at the HAU was an extraordinary, insightful experience, discussing and learning the complexities of violence and the various interpretations and assumptions often made about defining a concept like violence. The speakers highlighted the importance of defining and describing violence when discussing the topic and to acknowledge its various sub contents rather than theoretically assuming its definition. We often do not tap into different meanings and riches of violence and how its modes can be drastically defined; there are various modalities of the existence of violence in our world. According to the speakers, violence can be defined as both regulatory and reactive, creating an interruption to order. Yet, the speakers see brutality as neither separate nor opposite to violence. Brutality to them is defined as a limited and reduced form of violence. Brutality, through the emergence out of violence, is a general antagonism that introduces discussions around morality in human activity. Violence compared to brutality has various modes and can be open to forms in which we do not directly see as forms of violence. This attempt to distinguish brutality from violence was explored greatly during the live discussion. Audience members at the end were invited to pose inquiries and challenge what was discussed by the speakers. Many of the field school students asked individual questions during the discussion and continued the discussion at dinner afterwards.
Watch here the talk On Violence #2 by Moten/Harney

Overall, these speakers continue to question the assumptions of violence and attempt to distinguish brutality from violence and explore the open, conceptual directions in understanding violence from diverse perspectives. By focusing on phenomenological descriptions of violence that concern itself with ethical and political issues, these types of discussion invite new modes of understanding topics like violence that would not be taken into account. The ontological assumptions and presumptions then begin to underwrite the discourses of violence. For more information, visit more online lectures On Violence

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