Friday NOVEMBER 29 at 10:30 am : The Human Condition of Being Illegal / a DAI Public lecture by Marieke Borren / curated by Jorinde Seijdel & kindly hosted by BAK.

tag: Utrecht

BAK basis voor actuele kunst 

The lecture precedes the kick off at 13:00 pm of the New World Academy

in which a substantial section of the DAI-community is participating.

Address: Lange Nieuwstraat 4 

NL-3512 PH Utrecht

entrance free

The Human Condition of Being Illegal

Since the beginning of 2012, the current Dutch asylum policy (including detention and deportation) has become the centre of heated political and public debates between its proponents and opponents. The debates are related to an explosion of collective action by irregular migrants, ranging from self-established tent camps in Ter Apel, The Hague and Osdorp, the Vluchtkerk and the campaign 'Wij zijn hier' (We are here), to collective hunger- and thirst strikes in detention centers. The suicide of the unjustly detained Russian asylum seeker Dolmatov in the beginning of 2013 caused a scandal which only added to the polarized public debate.

This lecture will address the condition of being illegal by engaging with Hannah Arendt's phenomenological account of the condition of statelessness. In her incisive and by now classical study The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Arendt argued that the key to the predicament of the stateless refugee is the loss of what she elusively dubbed 'the right to have rights'. Being an apatride - that is: without a place in the world - and reduced to 'a human being in general', the illegal alien reveals the contradiction and interdependence of the sovereign nation state and human rights norms, between being a citizen and being a Human Being. Contemporary philosophers such as Giorgio Agamben, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Ranciere and Bonnie Honig have testified to the ongoing relevance of Arendt's account.

The purpose of this lecture is to determine the condition of today's illegal aliens, inspired by Arendt's account: what does it mean not to be a citizen in a world in which the sovereign nation state is anything but declining? In addition, I will meditate on the question of the conditions of possibility of illegal alien's collective political agency. Is claiming that 'We are here!' tantamount to what Jacques Ranciere has called 'making visible what had [formerly] no business being seen, and mak[ing] heard a discourse where once there was only place for noise'?

Marieke Borren 

This lecture was curated by Jorinde Seijdel in the context of her theory seminar Illegal Acts, taking place at the DAI in the current academic year, under the umbrella of the course How To Do Things With Theory.

Jorinde Seijdel (behind the microphone) introduces lecturer Marieke Borren (standing to the right)