Estonian Academy of Arts, Põhja pst 7, room A301

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Date: September 9-12 / 5 pm–8 pm

Venue: Estonian Academy of Arts, Põhja pst 7, room A301

Lecturer: Ewa Domanska

This series of seminars is based on the assumption that today art can offer the historian (as well as anthropologists, archaeologists, literary scholar, etc.) theoretical inspiration, and even an epistemological paradigm and a research program of knowledge building. Interesting cognitive models, research categories, and representations of reality can be derived from the analysis of works of art. Following Susan Sontag’s statement that “each work of art gives us a form or paradigm or model of knowing something, an epistemology,” I would claim that analysis of various types of art objects, performances and activities might help us to build an inclusive knowledge of the past.  Such knowledge would be more appropriate for the planetary condition than offered, for example, by history understood as a specific approach to the past that emerged within the Greco-Judeo-Christian tradition and carries a stigma as a colonial enterprise. Thus art participates in the struggle for the epistemic justice, commenting on the problem of “epistemological dependency” of non-western scholars, and criticizing Western cognitive (artistic) imperialism. It is an important force in the development of an emergent paradigm that is post-anthropocentric, post-Western, post-secular and post-global (planetary/ cosmic).

Contemporary art is a great laboratory for the testing of various kinds of future. If indeed there is a need for realistic, responsible (local or micro) utopias in the world today, they might be developed with the help of various ways of knowing (the world). This would include not only humanities, social sciences as well as life sciences and Earth Sciences (“radical interdisciplinarity”) – which is to say, Western type of knowledge, but also include indigenous ways of knowing. The question arises as to whether the historian and the artist can offer a more positive (affirmative) scenario of the future?


The seminar is open to PhD students.

Registration is open until 01.09.2019. Max group size is 15.

Registration form


Readings (readings will be sent after registration)

  • Doris Bachmann-Medick, Cultural Turns. New Orientations in the Study of Culture, trans. Adam Blauhut, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.
  • Bruno Latour and Timothy M. Lenton, “Extending the Domain of Freedom, or Why Gaia Is So Hard to Understand.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 45, no. 3, Spring 2019: 659-680.
  • Ariella Azoulay, “Potential History: Thinking through Violence”.Critical Inquiry, vol. 39, no. 3, Spring 2013.
  • Rosi Braidotti Rosi, “Powers of Affirmation: Response to Lisa Baraitser, Patrick Hanafin and Clare Hemmings.” Subjectivity, vol. 3, no 2, 2010: 140–148.
  • Ewa Domańska, “Affirmative Humanities”. Dějiny – teorie – kritika [Czech Republic], no. 1, 2018: 9-26.
  • Ruth Lipschitz, Skin/ned Politics: Species Discourse and the Limits of “The Human” in Nandipha Mntambo’s Art. Hypatia, vol. 27, no. 3, August 2012: 546–566.
  • Ann-Marie Tully, Becoming Animal: Liminal Rhetorical Strategies in Contemporary South African Art. Image & Text, vol. 17, 2011: 64-84.
  • Kathy Charmaz, Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis. Sage, 2006.


 Monday, September 9

  1. Paradigm shift in the contemporary humanities and social sciences

Tuesday, September 10

  1. Prefigurative Art/Humanities

 Wednesday, September 11

  1. Contemporary Art and the Future of History

Thursday, September 12

  1. How to build a theory? [workshop]
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Posted by Elika Kiilo

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