Anticolonial Acts ~ Hypatia Vourloumis' seminar from Confluence to Confluence

May 2024: confluence#5 in Middelburg

In his memorial to Marina Vishmidt (1976-2024), (published on e-flux on May 3, 2024), Andreas Petrossiants channels her ever present voice: 

I recently returned to Marina’s proposal for an “infrastructural critique” in place of “institutional critique,” to better understand the currently emerging student rebellions. As she argued so incisively, “If the project of critique always ends up affirming its subject,” then we need an infrastructural mode of thinking and action. The university, like any institution, “can be a type of infrastructure, but the shift needs to be understood as moving from a standpoint which takes the institution as its horizon, thus accepting the moralized premises that perpetuate it, to one which takes the institution as a historical and contingent nexus of material conditions amenable to re-arrangement through struggle and different forms of inhabitation and dispersal.” (Vishmidt, “Only as Self-Regulating Negativity: Infrastructure and Critique,” Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts 13, no. 3 (2021): 13–24).

Petrossiants continues: 

As I know Marina would attest, what is happening on campuses today is infrastructural struggle in lived, concrete form. Her formulation not only points to modalities of action that repurpose existing systems of production and reproduction to contest the machines of subjection, death, and disciplinarity; that repudiate the myths of autonomous aesthetic practice which make labor disappear; that remind us of the necessity of an insurgent speculation that must be wrested back from capital. Her infrastructural critique also shows that infrastructures are there for the taking. We must creatively and speculatively abolish them without reifying the relations they reproduce in the process. It’s cruel to imagine that we will not have new reflections from Marina to help us confront the conjunctures to come. And yet we have much more to learn from her, and many more engagements with her thoughts in store. (Vishmidt, Speculation (Whitechapel and MIT Press, 2022), 11.)

This final seminar is dedicated to the memory and work of Marina. We will continue studying her work in conversation with two readings: Dean Spade’s book Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During this Crisis (And the Next) (Verso 2020), and Andreas Malm’s essay “The Destruction of Palestine is the Destruction of the Earth” (Verso blog, April 8, 2024).


Andreas Malm. “The Destruction of Palestine is the Destruction of the Earth.” Verso (blog), April 8, 2024.

Andreas Petrossiants. "Marina Vishmidt, 1976–2024." e-flux, May 3, 2024.

Dean Spade. Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During this Crisis (And the Next). London: Verso, 2020.

Marina Vishmidt. “Only as Self-Regulating Negativity: Infrastructure and Critique.” Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts 13, no. 3 (2021): 13–24.


April 2024: confluence 4 in Essaouira

Our three-day study session continues to think about anticolonial practices through questions of infrastructure. The infrastructural turn in critical thought and practice seeks to move away from the institution as delimiting object and horizon, and the calls for (largely) symbolic change internal to that object and horizon, in order to attend to necessary actions for material structural change.

In the introduction of a recent issue of Social Text titled “Reading for Infrastructure: Worlds Made and Broken,” the editors write:

In early February 2020, as we were writing this introduction, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) violently raided the Unist'ot'en Camp in unceded Wet'suwet'en territory, where Indigenous people had for a decade been blocking roads and bridges to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines. While some of these projects had been canceled as a result of these actions, this raid was intended to clear the path for the building of the $6.6 billion Coastal GasLink Pipeline, which would carry fracked natural gas from northern British Columbia to a liquefaction plant on the coast. The police raid sparked dozens of solidarity actions across Canada, and protesters mobilized to shut down roads, rail lines, and ports from Vancouver to Halifax, with the multiplication of blockades effectively paralyzing passenger and freight traffic across much of the country.

Although these blockades form part of a broad struggle against what the anthropologist Anne Spice calls “invasive infrastructures,” with echoes across the Americas and beyond, they are not against infrastructure as such. Rather, they articulate a politics against a world structured by the material needs and interests of fossil capital. In preventing pipeline construction, the blockades in fact propose an alternative vision of infrastructure tangled up with and enabling different “forms of life” (Jennifer Wenzel, this issue) that for their part also function as “infrastructures of decolonization.” They also unsettle what counts as infrastructure. As Freda Huson, the spokesperson of the Unist'ot'en Camp, explained to Spice, the route of the pipeline passed through the clan's best berry patches, which help to sustain not only the First Nations people who inhabit those lands but also the region's expanded ecosystem that links people and berries to streams, salmon, and bears. “All of that is part of the system that our people depend on, and that whole cycle and system is our critical infrastructure, and that's what we're trying to protect, an infrastructure that we depend on. And industry and government are pushing these projects that would destroy that critical infrastructure, most important to our people.” What Huson calls “our critical infrastructures,” which sustain forms of life that are antagonistic to accumulation, are threatened by the “critical infrastructures” of racial capitalism.

Building on the above, our seminar will also engage with questions of temporality and infrastructure by way of routinized and normalized repetition and reproduction. This emphasis on materiality, the material conditions of everyday life, the necessary “infrastructures for life” always points to how certain infrastructures deliberately perpetuate containment and death. The prison writings of Walid Daqqa (1962-2024) will guide us through theories and philosophies of resistance to infrastructures of containment and stolen time and life. These writings were smuggled out from what Daqqa describes the “small prison” to the “large prison.”

Furthermore, the intersections of art and culture and imperial infrastructures, temporalities and technologies of reproduction will be critically engaged with through our reading of Ariella Azoulay’s Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism where she writes: 

"This is what unlearning imperialism looks like. It means unlearning the dissociation that unleashed an unstoppable movement of (forced) migration of objects and people in different circuits and the destruction of the worlds of which they were part. These worlds were transformed into a construction site where everything could be made into raw material. Under imperial rule there is no longer a common world to care for but only scattered enclaves to protect. Unlearning imperialism is an attempt to suspend the operation of the shutter and resist its operation in time, space, and the body politic in common cause with those who object to it. Unlearning imperialism attends to the conceptual origins of imperial violence, the violence that presumes people and worlds as raw material, as always already imperial resources."

Finally, we will study the violent construction sites of apartheid and the speculative work of decolonizing infrastructure in Eyal Weizman’s Hollow Land and the DAAR’s Architecture after Revolution respectively.



Ariella Aisha Azoulay, Potential History: Unlearning Imperialism. London: Verso, 2019.

Walid Daqqa, “Parallel Time,” (A letter from prison), 2006.

Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency (DAAR, Alessandro Petti, Sandi Hilal, Eyal Weizman) Architecture After Revolution. Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2013. 

“Reading for Infrastructure: Worlds Made and Broken.” Eds. Adriana Michelle Campos Johnson and Daniel Nemser, Social Text 40, no. 4, (Dec 2022).

Eyal Weizman, Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation. London: Verso, 2007.


March 2024: confluence 3 at PAF

For this iteration of our seminar Anticolonial Acts, we are reading Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. This philosophical and political work on education will enable a critical engagement and discussion around: humanization and dehumanization; oppression, fear, and practices of freedom and liberation; violence; anticolonial resistance; critical consciousness; contradiction, incompletion; mutual processes. 

We will also be discussing Antonio Gramsci’s writings in his Prison Notebooks focusing on his importance as a philosopher of political praxis and in his own words, the politics of the “body of practical rules for research and detailed observations useful for awakening an interest in effective reality and for stimulating more rigorous and more vigorous political insights.” We will think through key concepts such as hegemony, historical and normative grammars, with a particular focus on Gramsci’s writings on art, culture, and their roles in the “struggle for a new civilization.”

Finally, we will read a 2019 interview given by Palestinian learning practitioner and theorist Munir Fasheh on the question of decolonizing education. Fasheh’s life’s work as a mathematician, physicist and educator “attempts to develop a shared vision related to learning in the Arab world . . . that springs out of authentic initiatives which start with and build on what people do and what culture has.” In this interview, Fasheh responds to questions posed to him by Mayssoun Sukarieh.



Antonio Gramsci, The Antonio Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings 1916-1935. Edited by David Forgacs. New York: New York University Press, 2000

Paolo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. [1970]. New York: Continuum Publishing, 2005. 

Mayssoun Sukarieh, “Decolonizing Education, a view from Palestine: an interview with Munir Fasheh.” International Studies in Sociology of Education, 03 April, 2019.


January 2024: confluence 2 at NAC, Nida


Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism. (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2000).

Robin D. G. Kelley, “A Poetics of Anticolonialism.” Introduction to Discourse on Colonialism. 

David Graeber & David Wengrow, Chapter 1: “Farewell to Humanity’s Childhood” and Chapter 2: “Wicked Liberty” in The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. (Penguin, 2021).

Samera Eismer, “To say and think a life beyond what settler colonialism has made.”

Leila H. Farsakh, ed., Rethinking Statehood in Palestine: Self-Determination and Decolonization Beyond Partition. (University of California Press, 2021).


Day One:

Aimé Césaire’s Discourse on Colonialism, published in 1950, begins with the following words:

“A civilization that proves incapable of solving the problems it creates is a decadent civilization. 

A civilization that chooses to close its eyes to its most crucial problems is a stricken civilization. 

A civilization that uses its principles for trickery and deceit is a dying civilization.” 

The fact is that the so-called European civilization–"Western" civilization–as it has been shaped by two centuries of bourgeois rule, is incapable of solving the two major problems to which its existence has given rise: the problem of the proletariat and the colonial problem; that Europe is unable to justify itself either before the bar of "reason" or before the bar of "conscience"; and that, increasingly, it takes refuge in a hypocrisy which is all the more odious because it is less and less likely to deceive.

Robin D. G. Kelley’s first words in his introduction to Césaire’s book are:

“Aimé Césaire's Discourse on Colonialism might be best described as a declaration of war.”

We begin our seminar with close readings of the above works in a time of open declarations and perpetrations of genocide by “Western” settler colonial civilizations. The relevance and timeliness of the words above reverberate across a space-time continuum sensed as rageful and poetic spooky actions at a distance. These spooky anticolonial acts collapse linear notions of temporality and spatiality, and thus, our understandings of what practices of friendship, struggle, voice, and solidarity entail. This class declares war (has always declared war) on what and who are less and less able to deceive. We see you.

Along with Césaire’s and Kelley’s anti-civilizational sonic boomings, we will be reading the poems Suheir Hammad has been drafting and posting over the past three months on social media: a real time poetics of anticolonialism and antigenocide, yes, and perhaps more than this, a poetics of forever b(l)ooming resistance: practices for undying love, the insistent searching of words and counter rhythms, the unyieldingness of life.  


Day Two: 

The hypocrisies Césaire admonishes are bound up with the establishment of a specific delineation of the category of the “human,” and therefore, by extension, notions of “human history,” “human civilization,” and “human rights” as Graeber and Wengrow expose in The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. It is safe to say that bourgeois human categories promoted and universalized by Western imperialism and colonialism are imploding under the pressure of the reality we find ourselves in, which is precisely the earth’s witnessing of the reality of the West’s desired and deliberate annihilation of resistant anticolonial life on a particular anticolonial ground. If this relishing of horrific industrialized deathliness for profit is humanity and world, then we can only be anti-human and anti-world. 

For us students, new histories are an important part of our indispensable arsenal in the war against stricken, flailing and brutally dying civilizations. Hence, we will discuss Graeber’s and Wengrow’s excavations of hypocritical and treacherous “enlightenment” terms such as “equality” and “liberty” and the ways these supposed “Western” notions and ideas are in fact irrevocably bound up with, and in many ways, formed by, indigenous critique and political thought (from 1492 onwards). There were always and always will be blasts back, and blasts of life before encounter and attack. In fact, there was always and always will be resistance prior to power. Our work entails recognizing resistance as and when it happened and happens and will happen. This work of re-visioning history, and thus the present and future, will be further engaged by listening to political scientist Dr. Roy Casagranda’s lecture: “How Islam saved Western Civilization.” Casagranda’s lecture decolonizes the mind and history, and itself engages deeply with why he insists on this title for his lecture, as he teases, performs and undoes its contradictions so as to collapse the categories that make it up.  


Day Three:

How has settler colonialism and the nation-state shaped the ways we say things and think? How is even the category of “civilian” up for question? Samera Esmeir’s essay, written a week after the beginning of the Oct 2023 onslaught on Gaza, will guide us through these vital questions. These questions are not academic ones. Searching for answers to them are imperative if we are to seriously practice other ways of saying, thinking, doing, so as to not s(t)ay the same (see last year’s seminar On not S(t)aying the Same). 

On this final day of our seminar, we will have the great privilege of learning from professor Leila H. Farsakh, and read her introduction to her edited volume Rethinking Statehood in Palestine: Self Determination and Decolonization Beyond Partition (University of California Press, 2021). We will also listen to this excellent podcast where professor Farsakh unpacks the important history of Palestinian struggle: Professor Farsakh will share a presentation and take questions from students online as part of a school-wide DAI assembly. We thank professor Farsakh for taking the time to join us, and thank our fellow tutor Ghalya Saadawi for organizing this important event for us.

Finally, and most importantly, all of the above attempts at study, conversation and collective learning are inseparable from the messages and calls we are receiving through our technologies and media from truth tellers on Palestinian ground (and the diaspora and solidarity activisms and movements). Anticolonial acts are inherently made up of practices of singular and collective calls and responses. We will begin every session by attending to and responding to what our callers are sharing with us, listening to and amplifying their voices and the content they are sending us, and will continue to do so on a daily, hourly basis.  


November 2023: introduction days at PAF, St. Erme

DAI-BULLETIN 2023—2024 nr. 1 November 2023