POSTSTRUCTURALISM: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE Conference – George Sotiropoulos (Void Network) talk – 6-7/3/19 Madrid

March 5, 2019

Becoming-Other, Becoming-Many: Poststructuralism and the Problem of Justice- George Sotiropoulos– political philosopher and member of Void Network participates in the conference POSTSTRUCTURALISM: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE Wed. 6/3/2019 MADRID

This paper argues that poststructuralist thought can help articulate a critical and materialist notion of justice against the normativist and idealist conceptions dominant today. The assumption that justice is a critical concept goes all the way back to Plato, whose interrogation of the notion in the Republic yields a critical analysis of the political forms existing in Greece at the time. On the other hand, in the very same work, Plato has been taken to canonize an idealist conceptualization of justice, as a normative Ideal that prescribes how things Ought to be. This conception remains prevalent today in mainstream theories of justice, which unfold within a more or less liberal frame of reference. Despite the plurality of perspectives and the willingness to critically engage with key premises of liberal thought, justice continues for the most part to be conceived as a judgment that reason passes on material reality. Recognizing the exclusionary implications of this type of normative political theory, a diverse yet identifiable current of thought has emerged that attempts to recover a more critical conception of justice, which does not adopt however the reductionist attitude of traditional Marxist or more broadly materialist critiques. In this context, the legacy of poststructuralism has been ambivalent. On the one hand, the late work of Derrida has arguably been an inaugurating moment of contemporary critical and non-reductionist theories of justice. On the other hand, it is not hard to find instances in the work of other iconic poststructuralist thinkers that suggest a principled dismissal of the notion’s analytical and political merits. Intentionally or inadvertently, poststructuralism’s radical critique of political normativism has been said (and accused) to lead to a subsumption of justice to power. Even Derrida’s attempts to sustain the irreducibility of the former to the latter, ends up in an aporetic position, which refrains from articulating an alternative, positive conception of justice. It is the latter possibility that my paper explores. Starting with a brief discussion of Derrida and Foucault and then focusing on Deleuze and Guattari, it will be argued that poststructuralist thought provides a fertile basis for a concept of justice that foregrounds the latter’s critical potency without however forfeiting its normative and ethical traits. At the same time, this conception will be shown to be consistent to a materialist theory of social reality, yet respectful of the ideational dimension of justice as well as of its excessiveness vis-à-vis historical actuality.

Conference Program


Seminario 217 (Sala Ortega y Gasset)

Department of Logic and Theoretical Philosophy

Universidad Complutense de Madrid.



 0830–0900 hrs: Welcome and Registration

 0900–0915 hrs: Opening Remarks

 0915–1015 hrs: Session 1―The Genesis of Poststructuralism

Chair: Gavin Rae

Nietzsche and the Emergence of Poststructuralism

Alan D. Schrift (Grinnell College, USA).

Poststructuralism in America: From Epistemological Relativism to Post-Truth?

Kevin Kennedy (University of Paris II: Panthéon-Assas, France).

1015–1030 hrs: Coffee Break

 1030–1200 hrs: Session 2―Deleuze

Chair: Alan D. Schrift

Structuralist Heroes and Machinic Assemblages: On Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Post-structuralism’

Iain Campbell (University of Edinburgh, Scotland).

Virtuality, Life, Contemplation: Gilles Deleuze, reader of Plotinus

Giuseppe Armogida (University of Roma-Tre, Italy).

The Cut, the Egg and the Embryo: Is Time a Destructive or a Creative Factor in Deleuze’s Philosophy of Individuation?

Sigmund Schilpzand (University of Southampton, England).

1200–1215 hrs: Coffee Break

1215–1345 hrs: Session 3―Ethics

Chair: Iain Campbell

The Role of Complexity in Poststructuralist Ethics

Kalle Pihlainen (Tallinn University, Estonia).

To have done with human rights(?): A Deleuzian Critique

Christos Marneros (University of Kent, England).

Becoming-Other, Becoming-Many: Poststructuralism and the Problem of Justice

George Sotiropoulos (International School of Athens, Greece).

1345–1515 hrs: Lunch

1515–1615 hrs: Session 4―Castoriadis

Chair: Ronit Peleg

Splitting the Unconscious: Castoriadis and the Problem of Poststructuralist Agency

Gavin Rae (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain).

Radicalizing Democracy: The Castoriadis Approach

Alhelí Alvarado (School of Visual Arts, New York City, USA).

1615–1630 hrs: Coffee Break

1630–1800 hrs: Session 5―Aesthetics and Culture

Chair: Kalle Pihlainen

What Moves Music? Poststructuralism and Musical Ontology

Michael Szekely (Temple University, USA).

A Poststructuralism for the Visual Arts

Ashley Woodward (University of Dundee, Scotland).

Jean Francois LyotardDead Letters

Ronit Peleg (Tel-Aviv University/Hebrew University, Israel).



09151045 hrs: Session 6―Deconstruction

Chair: Emma Ingala

Poststructuralism and Transcendental Philosophy: Derrida’s Différance

James Cartlidge (Central European University, Hungary).

Derrida, Heidegger and the (brief) moment of History

Corinne Kaszner (University of Köln, Germany).

Jacques Derrida & Pierre Bourdieu: The Poststructuralist Public Space

Cillian Ó Fathaigh (University of Cambridge, England).

10451100 hrs: Coffee Break

11001230 hrs: Session 7―Foucault

Chair: Sara Raimondi

From Choir Boy to Funeral Hymn: Foucault’s Complicated Relation to Structuralism

Guilel Treiber (KU Leuven, Belgium).

Foucault’s Power: Resistance/Unreason

Christine Brueckner McVay (School of Visual Arts, New York City, USA).

Foucault and Jean-Luc Nancy against the Body Politic

Almudena Molina (University of Sussex, England).

12301245 hrs: Coffee Break

12451345 hrs: Session 8―Sexuality and the Body

Chair: Guilel Treiber

Rethinking the Body through Poststructuralism

Emma Ingala (Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain).

An Archaeology of Violence against Ambiguous Subjects

Emmanuel Jouai (University of Westminster, England).

 13451515 hrs: Lunch

 15151645 hrs: Session 9Butler

Chair: Hannah Richter

The Ethics and Politics of Temporality

Rosine Kelz (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany).

Vulnerability and the Inevitability of Violence: Reflections with and beyond Judith Butler

Martin Huth (Messerli Research Institute, Austria).

Fiddling while Democracy Burns: Postmodernity and the Limits of Performative Political Theory and Practice

Eric Goodfield (American University in Beirut, Lebanon).

 16451700: Coffee Break

 17001800 hrs: Session 10―Challenging Poststructuralism: The New Materialisms

Chair: Eric Goodfield

Towards the Future through the Past: Challenging the Transversality of New Materialisms as a Response to Discursive Poststructuralism

Sara Raimondi (University of Hertfordshire, England).

Thinking Post-structuralism with Deleuze and Luhmann: Sense, Interiority, Politics

Hannah Richter (University of Hertfordshire, England).

 18001815: Closing Remarks.




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