On the question of solidarity: concepts - controversies - perspectives
This year’s lecture series “Forum K’Universale” at the KU starts on Monday, November 9, 2020. Especially in the context of multiple crises, the idea of solidarity is receiving increased attention. Demands for "more solidarity" are still omnipresent today, and "more solidarity" is presented – sometimes frivolously and unquestioned – as a promising, if not the only viable solution in challenging times. The aim of this lecture series on the question of solidarity is a critical and multi-perspective contextualization of this 'big idea', which takes historical and current controversies into account, sheds light on socio-cultural and epistemic-political preconditions, and brings to light problems of the concept of solidarity. The interdisciplinary and international lecture series with lectures from philosophy, sociology, theology, history, economics, American studies, postcolonial studies, and gender studies presents critical perspectives on the limits and possibilities of solidarity for discussion. The program also includes a reading by Bachmann Prize winner, writer and activist Sharon Dodua Otoo.
11/09/20: November 1938 – Solidarity in the "Reichskristallnacht", Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Benz (held in German)
In the staged pogrom against the Jewish citizens, November 9, 1938, was the hour of truth for all those who took humanity, Christian morality and civic decency seriously. But there were not many who helped their abused and persecuted Jewish fellow citizens, friends and colleagues, hid them, helped them to escape, protected them underground. The reports about solidarity and aid are contrasted with the realization that the majority silently accepted the events, that many ducked in front of the regime or even, infected by hatred of Jews, joined the mob. The "Reichskristallnacht" was a lesson in practiced and denied solidarity.
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Benz was director of the Center for Anti-Semitism Research at the Technical University of Berlin until 2011.
>> View video of the lecture
11/16/20: Solidarity and trade unions: Between conservative and transformative politics of interests, Prof. Dr. Klaus Dörre (held in German)
Solidarity is on everyone's lips. At the same time, worker solidarity is clearly in the midst of a serious crisis. On the one hand, labor disputes are increasing, while on the other hand, many unions are experiencing serious membership losses, both nationally and internationally. In Germany, union density has fallen below the 18% mark. Permanent staff tend towards exclusive solidarity, which seeks to distinguish itself not only from "above" but also from "below" and from "different". Is the solidarity of wage earners a phase-out model, which no longer does justice to the realities of a global, digital capitalism of the 21st century? Klaus Dörre contradicts such blanket judgements. Trade union solidarity is, according to his thesis, more contemporary than ever. For a reformation, however, it is important that the unions aggressively use their power resources and enter into new alliances that make them progressive actors in a social and ecological sustainability revolution.Solidarity is on everyone's lips. At the same time, worker solidarity is clearly in the midst of a serious crisis. On the one hand, labor disputes are increasing, while on the other hand, many unions are experiencing serious membership losses, both nationally and internationally. In Germany, union density has fallen below the 18% mark. Permanent staff tend towards exclusive solidarity, which seeks to distinguish itself not only from "above" but also from "below" and from "different". Is the solidarity of wage earners a phase-out model, which no longer does justice to the realities of a global, digital capitalism of the 21st century? Klaus Dörre contradicts such blanket judgements. Trade union solidarity is, according to his thesis, more contemporary than ever. For a reformation, however, it is important that the unions aggressively use their power resources and enter into new alliances that make them progressive actors in a social and ecological sustainability revolution.
>> View Video of Lecture
11/23/2020: Solidarity in Photography – Black Lives Matter and the Images of Protest, Nicole Schneider
Iconic pictures like Jeff Widener’s “Tank Man” or those stemming from the US Civil Rights Movements of the 1950s and 1960s link photography to activism. But what about its connections to solidarity? Looking at images from the contemporary Movement for Black Lives, my talk will consider the important link between photographs, solidarity, and activism.
Nicole Schneider is a doctoral candidate at the KU Chair of American Studies.
11/30/20: How solidary is the market?, Prof. Dr. Jörg Althammer (held in German)
The market is generally considered a place of selfishness and profit maximization. The consideration of the interests of others and the idea of solidarity seem to have no room here. But the corona pandemic in particular has shown how interconnected economic processes have become and how strongly modern economies are interdependent. Societies based on the division of labor are dependent on overcoming regional and social boundaries and integrating the other into the exchange process. Market-based exchange would thus be virtually predestined for "solidarity among strangers".
This lecture will take a closer look at the solidarity potential of market economy processes. Based on the division of labor as a structural feature of modern societies, solidarity is understood as antagonistic cooperation under fair conditions. Using specific examples, the lecture discusses how economic structures must be designed so that the market economy leads to a fair and thus solidary distribution of cooperation profits.
Prof. Dr. Jörg Althammer is Professor for Business Ethics and Social Policy at the KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt.
12/07/20: Beyond society: Solidarity with non-human life, Prof. Dr. Frank Adloff (held in German)
The massive loss of biodiversity, climate change and other ecological crises are calling for us to put the traditional relationship between human society and non-human nature to the test. This contribution to the series outlines theoretical and practical ways in which solidarity – beyond the dichotomy of society and nature – is possible with non-human life.
Prof. Dr. Frank Adloff is Professor of Sociology, especially Dynamics and Regulation of Economy and Society at the University of Hamburg
12/21/2020: Borders and Bridges: Militarized Regimes, Anti- Racist Struggles, and Insurgent Feminist Praxis (Lesung und Gespräch), Prof. Dr. Chandra Talpade Mohanty
In her talk, Chandra Mohanty discusses three geopolitical borders/occupations—India/Kashmir, Israel/Palestine and U.S/Mexico--. focusing on forms of governance/occupation, struggles for liberation and the necessity of transnational feminist analysis and solidarity. The talk is followed by a conversation with Kerstin Schmidt.
Prof. Dr. Chandra Talpade Mohanty is Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Sociology, and the Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University.
01/11/2020: A Poetics of Solidarity and Mercy for Practicing Nonviolence, Prof. Dr. Giovanna Covi
This talk engages the theories on nonviolence articulated by Leela Gandhi and Judith Butler together with the ethical poetics created by Michelle Cliff and Toni Morrison, with the aim to argue for the urgent necessity, in our violence-torn world, of a cultural revolution rooted in an everyday practice of negativity and becoming less for building a radical democracy.
Prof. Dr. Giovanna Covi is Professor for Angloamerican Literature and Gender Studies at the Università di Trento
01/18/2021: For those who have been in crisis (Lesung und Gespräch), Sharon Dodua Otoo
The severe restrictions on public life which have been repeatedly introduced by the German government due to the outbreak of COVID-19 have overwhelmed almost everyone - including many individuals, who until March 2020 had not experienced any existential limits to their freedom of movement, civil rights or bodily autonomy. Suddenly they were confronted with severely restricted access to health care, childcare, public transport, social networks and family support. Suddenly they were losing their paid work or struggling to juggle home office with home schooling. Suddenly they were in new territory, desperately wondering how they would survive.
For those who have been in crisis, none of this felt new. Black people have been warning the less affected over and over, long before they proudly used the hashtag Black Lives Matter on Twitter, or posted black squares on Instagram. And yet even in the midst of this outpouring of new-found awareness, we Black people are still fighting to defend our humanity. Writers like Toni Morrison and Chinua Achebe have shown us how to transform our collective pain - reimagining our humanity - and hand it back to us as art. This talk will consider the theme of solidarity from the perspective of a Black artist. As a writer I can bear witness. I can use my literature in the service of Black lives. Why I do this and how I do this will be the subject of my talk.
Sharon Dodua Otoo is a freelance writer. She was awarded the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize in 2016.
01/25/21: Solidarity with refugees, Prof. Dr. Marianne Heimbach-Steins (held in German)
Refugees are particularly vulnerable in many ways. In this lecture, the global ethos of solidarity, as drafted in the encyclical Fratelli tutti (2020), is related to the social and political treatment of refugees.
Prof. Dr. Marianne Heimbach-Steins is Professor of Christian Social Sciences at the University of Münster
02/01.2021: What is the Value of Solidarity?, Prof. Dr. Andrea Sangiovanni
There has recently been an explosion of writing on the nature of solidarity, but few have considered whether and why acting in solidarity with others is good. In this lecture, I will argue that solidarity, of course, is instrumentally valuable: it helps us to achieve ends that we otherwise would not have been able to achieve. But it is also non-instrumentally valuable, or good-in-itself. The lecture will seek to explain why and how, and explore what follows for the reasons we have to act in solidarity with others.
Prof. Dr. Andrea Sangiovanni ist Professor für Philosophie am King´s College London
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