To read




09.2018 #1

In the last meeting, we read the second part of Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism. 

The next reading group meeting will be simultaneous with Shahram Khosravi’s talk in Helsinki. Shahram Khosravi is Professor of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University and the author of the books: Young and Defiant in Tehran, University of Pennsylvania Press (2008); The Illegal Traveler: an auto-ethnography of borders, Palgrave (2010); and After Deportation: Ethnographic Perspectives, Palgrave (2017, edited volume). He has been an active writer in the Swedish press and has also written fiction. 

Khosravi will join our reading group before the public talk, the conversation will be facilitated by Arash Akhlaghi.

In Race, Nation, Class Balibar ends with a paragraph on racism and crisis of democracy:

These tendencies not only form part of the conditions leading to a worsening of the crisis, they contribute to every question of social rights and civil rights being perverted into a question of privileges that have to be protected or reserved for certain ‘natural’ beneficiaries. Rights are exercised in reality. Privileges may, in large part, be imaginary (indeed this is why they can generally be conferred upon exploited classes). Rights grow of themselves qualitatively through the extension of the number (and power) of those who enjoy and claim them. Privileges can only be guaranteed by the defence of an exclusiveness that is as restric­tive as possible. It seems to me that we can in this way better understand why the crisis conjuncture combines within the popular classes an un­certainty (which at times leads to panic) as to the ‘security’ of existence and an uncertainty about collective ‘identity’. The formation of the immigration complex I spoke of above is both a cause and an effect of that uncertainty, and the same is true of the tendential dissolution of the organized working class, around which a political tradition had formed which expressed the defence of economic and social interests in the language of rights and not in that of privileges. These two phenomena fuel one another. When they become politically inextricable, we have before us both a racist crisis and a crisis racism.

As a Marxist theoretician and intellectual Balibar is challenging the economism of orthodox Marxists in regards to the issue of racism and nationalism. Balibar is criticizing both Wallerstein’s rigid economism and the notion of ‘privilege’. In contrast to Balibar who is examining racism while being exterior to it, Shahram Khosravi is examining the same issue from the perspective of the subject and analysis how does it feel to be a crisis?



Reading materials:

  1. Fred Moten; The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning & Black Study (Intro)

Supplementary Readings:

  1. Shahram Khosravi, The ‘illegal’ traveler: an auto-ethnography of borders

Link to Download texts (Changing each time)



  1. Thinking through Racisms conversation: Haus der Kulturen der Welt
  2. The rehabilitation of ‘human nature’, or, where did anthropology go?
  3. Book: Maurice Bloch: In and Out of Each Other’s Bodies: Theory of Mind, Evolution, Truth, and the Nature of the Social
  4. Book: Étienne Balibar, Immanuel Wallerstein: Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities



Date: Tuesday 04.09.2018 @15:00
Address: Exhibition Laboratory (Merimiehenkatu 36, 00150 Helsinki)




The Sislej Xhafa, Padiglione Clandestino, 1997. Stealth performance. (From Bidoun)


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We are open to collaboration and joint projects. The reading conversations are usually carried on collectively. We are not reading the selected texts during the meetings, but focusing on the conversation about the subject. The topic of each month’s reading varies based on the collective interest. We are reading books, essays, and other materials in topics regarding contemporary art studies, politics, philosophy, criticism, poetry, etc. If you would like to join, just come in (free and open to all). Feel free to bring your friends.
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