Reflecting in time of pandemic
Coronaseminar with Ewa Majewska & MSN Home Office

  • Reflecting in time of pandemic
    Graphics: Kaja Kusztra

The Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw invites the public to the coronaseminar in English.

As dr Ewa Majewska states: "The outburst of Covid-19 pandemic has already happened. More than 5 millions are already infected, thousands are dying and prominent figures who once mocked the problem of the coronavirus are now facing intensive therapy treatments. Philosophers have immediately engaged in tense polemics concerning the expansion of the state of exception, solidarity, rights, confinement, death, the (impossible) futures, biopolitics, resistance and other topics relevant in these deeply perturbed times. Dystopian and utopian readings of the current situation emerge, as well as efforts to manage lives under the pressure of the unfolding transitions.

This seems like a time of monsters – emerging perspectives in a time of interregnum, as Gramsci portrayed it. Some – still shaped in the conditions of the already absent past, do not seem to meet the needs and images we currently recognize. Some others seem too distant from what we have known to be embraced. Almost all theoretical efforts to discuss the pandemic seem problematic, controversial and untimely – as they do not have a stable “now” to relate to, and always already reach out towards a past or a future we do not seem to know.

This is also a moment of weakness – such, as we remember from childhood – one of a frightened child, but also such as that encountered at various stages of our lives as we discover the unreadiness to face the new conditions or even to survive them. As a form of agency not immediately associated with political action, weakness might be seen as a version of withdrawal from action, but I believe this is not the only way. In line with feminist and queer theory, as well as other approaches to politics, where the experience of the oppressed matters, I would like to see in it a form of political agency, which in turn might lead to resistance, or other forms of action.

I would thus like to propose a discussion on the pandemic condition, which takes weakness as a starting point. As a starting point for the discussion, I would like to suggest, that we discuss willfulness, together with the first chapter of Sara Ahmed's book Willful Subjects. There was and perhaps still is a lot of willfulness in and around the pandemics, and this text might help us to confront it, reflect upon it, but also – find a common ground for various otherwise incomparable reactions to the Covid-19 crisis. Although this seminar takes place after a series of “coronaseminars” I did in cooperation with the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, this is a separate event, although some topics discussed in the previous events might also return here. The plan is to find some space for sharing and debating ideas concerning the pandemic together, as act of solidarity rather, then competition. As different interpretations of the current situation abound, we can only hope we can share and discuss them in common". 

Suggested readings:

  • Sara Ahmed, "Willful Subjects", Duke University Press, 2014, Introduction.
  • Catherine Malabou, "To Quarantine from Quarantine: Rousseau, Robinson Crusoe, and I” 
  • Ewa Majewska, "Weak Resistance", in: Krisis. Journal for Contemporary Philosophy, 2018: https://krisis.eu/weak-resistance.
  • All theoretical texts written in the pandemic you find interesting.  

The seminar will be hosted on Zoom and will be simultaneously streamed on the Museum's fanpage on Facebook.

Please, write on zapisy@administracja.artmuseum.pl to receive the zoom link and the suggested text to read. The participation in the seminar is very welcome and free of charge. 

dr Ewa Majewska

is a feminist philosopher and activist, affiliated with the Institute of Cultural Inquiry (ICI) Berlin. She taught at the University of Warsaw and the Jagiellonian University, she was also a visiting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley; ICI Berlin and IWM in Vienna. She published four books and some 50 articles and essays, in journals, magazines and collected volumes, including: e-flux, "Third Text", "Journal of Utopian Studies" or "Jacobin". Her current research is in Hegel's philosophy, focusing on the dialectics and the weak; feminist critical theory and antifascist cultures. Her next book, Feminist Antifascism. Counterpublics of the Common, will be published in 2021. She lives in Warsaw.

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