HAGAR KOTEF, “Freedom as Violence, or: a (Post-)Colonial Account of Mobility, Homelessness, and Political Belonging.
December 2nd, 6pm to 8pm, Wolff Conference Room, 1103. Albert and Vera List Academic Center, 6 East 16 Street 11th Floor, New York City
Patterns of mobility and immobility (real or imagined) can be mapped into different schemas of governance, and, accordingly, different forms of subjectivity. Movement is therefore a key political concept, and its configuration becomes the grounds for justifying various political principles and doings: from state violence to individual freedom. Drawing on this insight, which she has developed in her recent book Movement and The Ordering of Freedom, Hagar Kotef will focus in this talk on the (im)possibility of stability and the production of home and political belonging in contexts of settler colonialism. Focusing on Israel/Palestine, the talk will seek to see how belonging is formed amidst projects of destruction and institutionalized violence. Such an inquiry rests on an acknowledgement that people can desire the violent arrangements subtending their communities (not merely deny and suppress them). Mapping the array of attachments that are entangled with this violence enables considering political belonging primarily as a question of affect rather than through institutional and universal perspectives of rights. Since legal citizenship often remains hollow at best in the radically unequal context of the post/colony, this perspective may offer, almost paradoxically, alternative models for residence and de-colonization.
Hagar Kotef is a Senior Lecturer in Political Theory and Comparative Politics. Her book Movement and the Ordering of Freedom (Duke University Press, 2015) examines the roles of mobility and immobility in the history of political thought and the structuring of political spaces. Ranging from the writings of Locke, Hobbes, and Mill to the sophisticated technologies of control that circumscribe the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, it shows how concepts of freedom, security, and violence take form and find justification via different and differentiated regimes of movement. Currently, she works on the construction of political belonging in settler colonies. Her work was published in various journals, including Political Theory, Antipode, Theory, Culture, and Society, Politics & Gender, and Signs, among others, Before joining SOAS she held positions at the Minerva Humanities Center at Tel Aviv University, the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University, at Columbia University and the University of CA, Berkeley.