Work-in-Progress 12/4 with Mike Nance and Kate Drabinski
Join us for lively interdisciplinary discussion and lunch!
Wednesday, December 4, 12:00-1:00 p.m. (Lunch served at 11:45, so please rsvp to email@example.com)
Mike Nance, Assistant Professor, Philosophy and Kate Drabinski, Lecturer, Gender + Women's Studies
Mike Nance: Democracy, Citizenship, and Recognition
Suppose that only a society of equal democratic citizens, all of whom are committed to the common good of society, can be a society of universal freedom. The thought behind this claim is that the politically relevant form of unfreedom is domination, a relation in which one person’s will subsumes another person’s will, such that the second person’s agency is absorbed into that of the first. The opposite of domination is self-rule, submission to laws one gives to oneself (as opposed to laws forced upon one by someone else). If everyone is going to be free in this way, no one can have so much wealth or power that they can dominate anyone else’s political agency, where political agency is understood as the ability to authorize or contest laws and social norms. Now, such a society will be stable over time only if citizens strongly identify with the good of their fellow citizens – that is, if people are committed to equal citizenship and the public good as ideals that move them to act. So the question becomes: how do we create citizens? Rousseau and Hegel offer an answer to this question. They argue that peoples’ identities are formed through relations of recognition (Anerkennung). Now, if identity depends on the recognition of others, and we want people to identify as equal citizens, then we need to provide some kind of forum in which people can recognize each other as citizens. Thus we arrive at a rationale for something like a deliberative or participatory democracy: public space for democratic deliberation provides sites of recognition in which people can become citizens – they can become political agents who see themselves as having a role in public affairs, and who know that their society embodies norms that are collectively authorized without domination. I am interested in discussing a number of questions related to this argument, including (but not limited to): what are the economic preconditions that must be in place for such a deliberative democracy to function? What is recognition, and how exactly does recognition shape peoples’ agency? Can discussions of this conception of a democratic society from other humanities and social science disciplines help illuminate (or challenge) this abstract philosophical account?
Kate Drabinski: Queer Monuments in The City
Baltimore is Monument City, and there is no shortage of sculptures memorializing Baltimore’s Great Men and Great Wars, and even the Great Men and Great Wars of other places, as the statue honoring William Wallace attests to in Druid Hill Park. Contemporary movements in public history have challenged this Great Man model of history and called on us to memorialize the Everyman, resulting in an explosion of public history projects that seek to tell the stories of the every day and the people and practices that made and make this world. At the same time, many of the ways we monumentalize remain the same—the statue or plaque marking a fixed moment in time, even as that fixed moment might refer to a broader history. Drawing on my collaborative work with two artists and our project, Queerstories, this paper asks how queer theory and theories of queerness might expand our notion of “the monument” to embrace public memory of the ephemeral, the de-subjected, and history-without-evidence.