May 27, 2019 Zagreb Workshop:
Feminism Between Nation-states and Capitalism
Workshop with Marina Gržinić, Šefik Tatlić, and the participants of the module Feminism Between Nation-states and Capitalism at Centre for Women’s Studies, Zagreb, Croatia
Centre for Women’s Studies Zagreb is the first non-institutional educational center in Croatia. It was founded by a group of feminists, theorists, and scholars, peace activists, and artists in 1995. The Centre provides an interdisciplinary program and expert knowledge on women’s issues and is a meeting point for academic discourse, artistic practice, activist engagement. The Centre’s publishing program is focused on publishing the results of Croatian feminist research and theory, as well as translations of selected key feminist texts. Until today they have published more than 50 titles. The Centre’s feminist theoretical journal Treća – [The Third] was launched in 1998 and has been published annually ever since.
The main quality of the Women’s Studies educational program is its interdisciplinarity and integrality. The program offers an insight into the diverse themes of feminism and gender studies, women’s culture and history, women’s rights and gender equality. During its 20 years of work, the Centre has seen more than 600 participants complete the educational program, and more than 1000 participants involved in various specialized programs.
Module: Feminism Between Nation-states and Capitalism
It is clear that what global capitalism brings in front of us is a necessity to revisit globally racist, homophobic, and discriminatory processes, not as simple identity differences but as processes that are entangled with capital, new media technology and with the change of the mode of life under capital’s brutal modes of racialization and exploitation.
State nation, feminism, capitalism, memory, history
Feminist perspective: from former Yugoslavia turbo fascism to neoliberal postmodern fascist Europe
Nation-state, feminisms, capitalism
Political analysis of memory and history in the space of former Yugoslavia
MONIQUE MBEKA PHOBA will present an overview of her 17 masterclasses on the
subject of the taboo of colonization in the Belgian cinema of the last 40 years. The
masterclasses have been presented from 2015 to 2017 in a quite various places: festivals, training institutes as cultural or associative centers (Brussels African Film Festival / FIFAB, BOZAR, Pier 10, women’s film festival, “They spin,” BE-PAX, Point-Culture, Pianofabriek, Ghent Sint-Luca Art Institute, Mission Local of Molenbeek, ULB, Congolese associations etc.).
LAURA NSENGIYUMVA will talk about her project PeopL. This work addresses the figure of Leopold II in the public space of Brussels. And more generally, she refers to his phantasmagorical presence in the Belgian consciousness: in official celebrations, in folklore, in language (he is seen as the king “Builder”). The figure of the King Leopold II becomes theinstrument of a biased patriotism. The king becomes “Builder,” despite the immense destruction of which he was the author. He is the figure of a cynical patriotism, which cannot function without a cruel but indispensable blindness. The project aims to the decolonization of the public space.
WOMBA KONGA known by his artist name PITCHO will present 2 projects: a multidisciplinary festival “Congolisation” and his latest theater/perfomative play with the title “Kuzikiliza.” The term Congolisation is a contraction of the words “Congo” and “Colonisation.” The idea of the festival is to focus on the contribution of the Congolese diaspora in the Belgium cultural landscape. The theater/performance play “Kuzikiliza” that translates in Swahili as “to be heard”—is a plurilingual and interdisciplinary performance that makes communication and its mechanisms to vacillate. Pitcho Womba Konga in this play departs from Patrice Lumumba’s speech at the ceremony of the Proclamation of the Congo’s Independence on June 30, 1960. Pitcho exposes the actuality of Lumumba’s speech today and questions how to reconcile past and present, while the process of decolonization is still fully underway.
A symposium on the silencing of colonialism, anti-Semitism, and contemporary turbo-fascist nationalism in Belgium, Austria, and former Yugoslavia.
The international and interdisciplinary symposium, open to public audiences, is built as a podium for research and exchange, dissemination of knowledge, and discussion.
The two-day-long symposium hosted invited speakers that cover the central topics of our research in the three respective territories: memory and history, archives, and the axis of power and knowledge. The general objective of the symposium was to denote gaps between processes of institutionalized silencing, hegemonic processes of oblivion and amnesia, and processes of instituting power through building counter-memory and counter-history projects, interventions, and resistance. The aim was to demonstrate how processes for the establishment of counter-memory and counter-history can open up spaces for new ways of forming radicalized constituent politics. Collective struggles and oppositionality were investigated as the basis of a possible dismantling of neoliberal and necrocapitalist societies by means of re-empowering history that crushes silences.
A series of three lectures by Marina Grzinic and Sophie Uitz is held during the summer term 2018 at the Post-Conceptual Art Practices study programme (Vienna Academy of Fine Arts). Each of the lecture includes a screening of documentary film and introduces one of the three research territories of the “Genealogy of Amnesa” to the students.
Part I Belgian Colonialism in the Congo
23 April 2018, 4-7 PM
Presentation of the research project “Genealogy of Amnesia: Rethinking the Past for a New Future of Conviviality”, by Marina Grzinic and Sophie Uitz.
Introduction, screening and discussion of “King Leopold’s Ghost” (2006, 108min, documentary) by Pippa Scott and Oreet Rees – a documentary about the exploitation of the Congo by King Leopold II of Belgium, based on the book by Adam Hochschild King Leopold Ghost from 1998.
Part II The Yugoslavian War
14 May 2018, 4-7 PM
Introduction, screening and discussion of Valentini Areh’s documentary “Radovan Karadzic’s Secret Plans” (2016, 51min, documentary for television).
The TV film shows newly retrieved materials and accounts obtained at the trial of Radovan Daradzic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, Hague Tribunal. The documentary was premiered two days before the final sentence to Karadzic at the Haag Tribunal, 24 March 2016. Karadzic was sentenced to fourty years for Srebrenica genocide in BiH, Amont other criminal acts.
Valentin Areh is a Slovenian journalist, war correspondent and writer. He participated in 1991 as a soldier in the short Slovenian war for independence. He subsequently attended Ljubljana University, studying history and sociology. Areh has fiftenn years of experience as a war correspondent in places such as Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was one of the few journalists to remain in Kosovo during the Kosovo War of 1999 and he survived a tortuous escape out of the country during NATO’s war to expel Serbian forces.
Part III Remembrance and oblivion of Nazi crimes in Austria
4 June 2018, 4-7 PM
Screening of “Night and Fog” (French original title: Nuit et brouillard; 1956, 32min, documentary short film). Directed by Alain Resnais, it was made ten years after the liberation of Nazi concentration camps. The title is taken from the notorious “Nacht und Nebel” (German for “Night and Fog”) program of abductions and disappearances decreed by the Nazis on 7 December 1941.
Screening of “East of War” (German original title: Jenseits des Krieges; 1996), a film by Ruth Beckermann (cinematography Peter Roehsler, editing Gertraud Luschützky).
White-tiled rooms, neon lighting; on the walls black and white photographs documenting the atrocities committed by the German Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front in WW2. Against this background former soldiers talk about their experiences beyond the bounds of “normal” warfare. An uncompromising film on remembrance and oblivion. Ruth Beckermann’s film doesn’t duplicate the exhibition, but begins where it ends: in a commentary. Its subject-matter is less about history than remembering, less about the past than the present.
Images with violent content are always historical, as what is seen as violent is constructed and is violently managed; therefore nothing is natural in relation to violence. What will be defined as violent is always an outcome of violent hegemonic processes. Seeing images of killings can provoke our rebellion and our insurgencies, unless we are paralyzed by our normativized occidental lives. Europe and the global neoliberal capitalist system in general are well attuned to the hierarchization, control, and management processes of the present neoliberal capitalist states. Especially under attack are migrants and all those not considered to be “natural” parts of the neoliberal capitalist national body in the West: asylum-seekers and refugees escaping war-torn parts of the global world (the Middle East, Africa), from conflicts induced by capital and imperial management.
On the other side and at the same time, we can see, for example, the last election campaign in Austria, with posters by the Freedom Party (FPÖ) containing blatantly racist and fascist slogans and images. My interest is to connect racism with visual narratives, “trophy” artifacts, and culture. I will look at racism from a historical perspective, showing a horrifying trajectory of structural racism that reproduces itself almost always circularly from a pseudoscientific (biological) racism, “progressing” toward “cultural racism” to “return” again to “scientific racism,” though then coined “intellectual racism.”
The images and chronologies in these displayed materials are coming from the catalogue/publication Words Precede Actions with the subtitle The Context of Language, Racism, Economy and Power by Marika Schmiedt published in 2018 that displays racist genealogies of discrimination and the ghettoization of the Roma people in the West and East of Europe.
One part of her analysis consists of the research of racism, linking them to histories of the relationship between race and physical anthropology. As “racist scientific results” are used in sorting and exposing bones and crania collections in the museum. This takes us via Schmiedt to the Natural History Museum (NHM) in Vienna that has one of the biggest crania collections, assembled by the Austrian anthropologist Augustin Weisbach (1837–1914) in the second half of the nineteenth century in Europe. The anthropological collection at the Natural History Museum in Vienna includes 40,000 objects, human remains, including skulls, bones, hair, and body drains. The collection mostly contains relics from historical and prehistoric times, but also problematic chapters of human remains that mark colonial and National Socialist times.
The other part presents a gallery of “skeletons of important Austrian men” falling out of the closet of Austrian history. All these men are not solely vicious racists, having programmatic anti-Romaism agendas, but they are all anti-Semites:
Albert Geßmann (1852–1920)
Karl Lueger (1844–1910),
Josef Weinheber (1892–1945)
Taras Borodajkewycz (1902‒1984)
Josef Weinheber (1892 – 1945) a “respected” Austrian man, poet and essayist, who was largely under the literary influences of Rainer Maria Rilke, Anton Wildgans and Karl Kraus, was a member of the Nazi Party from 1931 until 1933 and from 1944 on. He committed at the time of the advance of the Red Army, leaving behind a clear-sighted parting letter. He was buried in the village of Kirchstetten, Austria, where he had lived since 1936. The municipality and the citizens of Kirchstetten, have honored for years the “great poet” Weinheber by transforming his house into a museum, dedicating a street, a square and a highway bridge in his name, decided to name a kindergarten in his honor. (From the text by Marina Grzinic in Words Precede Actions, 2018).
Lecture and introduction to Marika Schmiedt’s catalogue
by Marina Grzinic
[…] Words precede actions: language, words, and discourses have a powerful impact on concrete social issues, political decisions, media content, knowledge institutions, labor markets, the shaping of histories, memories, and subjectivities and defining of citizenship. Through mass media, public opinions, and widespread anti-Roma graffiti in public space, words have set in motion actions of constant dehumanization of the Roma, leading their conditions of poverty, segregation, and seclusion to become part of another rhetoric – the rhetoric of naturalization of these conditions. We can find at least three forms of displaying these processes of racialization in Schmiedt’s work. The second form that is as well central to the research Genealogies of amnesia displays mechanisms that I will label the gallery of “skeletons of important Austrian men” falling out of the closet of Austrian history. All these men, we are soon to learn, almost dumbstruck, are not solely vicious racists, having programmatic anti-Romaism agendas, but are all anti-Semites. Reviewing this frightening collection of men, which is by no means exclusively historical, but instead, reverberates persistently in present times, identified by generations of critical positions in Austria as the nation’s post-Nazi times. This past is preoccupying as hyper right wing neoliberal necrocapitalism is at its full power here and now.
The catalogue presentation at the VBKÖ was contextualized by an exhibition of Marika Schmiedt’s recent investigations on the Nazi-past of the Vereinigung bildender Künstlerinnen Österreichs (VBKÖ).