Movement(s): Liberalism and Human Agency in Times of Existential Crisis

Lecture by Prof. Radha D'Souza (University of Westminster).

Part of the Critical Times Workshop on Movement(s) and the laboratorium lucernaiuris lecture series.

Datum: 5. Juni 2023
Zeit: 18.00 Uhr bis 19.15 Uhr
Ort: Room 4.A05, via Zoom

In this talk I will reflect briefly on how critical scholars in the post-World Wars world have responded to the crises of nature and societies that manifest as climate and immigration crises and the influences that their interpretations of the crises have had on the actions of radical movements for transcending and/or mitigating the crises. The present context raises more fundamental questions about human agency, and human relations to all form of life: humans, animal, plants, and non-life existences. I will argue that there is need to fundamentally rethink the conception of humans implicit in liberalism, to recognise the paradoxical nature of human agency, and address the human conundrum that arises from a sense of being trapped between the desire for freedom and the recognition of constraints. The source of the conundrum is the paradoxical and contradictory nature of the relationships of the Self, the world and the cosmos. Understanding and awareness of the interrelatedness of the Self, the world and the cosmos, and its indeterminacy that generates this conundrum is necessary to guide and direct human actions and social movements during these times of existential crises.

Radha D’Souza is Professor of Law at the University of Westminster. A former barrister at the High Court of Bombay, Radha is also an activist lawyer working with labour movements and democratic rights movements. Her most recent book "What's Wrong with Rights?" sheds light on and seeks to repoliticise the mainstream discourse on human rights and to place it in the context of international activism for justice. In her new project "Where Have Places Disappeared? Corporation-States, Law and Dualist Imaginations" she argues that European modernity institutionalises the dualism of economy and polity by having established states and corporations, the founding institutions of capitalism, as two distinct legal entities. Her research areas include international law, sociology, human geography, development studies and social movement studies. Within the field of international law, Radha's work focuses on Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), international law and development, and colonialism and law as well as resource conflicts in the Global South. Among her numerous projects is the "Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes", an (artistic) tribunal she conceptualised, organised and performed with artist Jonas Staal initially in Amsterdam (2021) and Helsinki, Seoul, Münster and Gwanju (April 2023).

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