Seminar with David Henig
On Monday 14 November at 16.00-18.00 the Utrecht Forum for Memory Studies is hosting the seminar “When War Percolates: On Michel Serres and the Topologies of Earthly Violence in a Planetary Age” by David Henig.
In this seminar, David Henig retraces his encounters with the work of Michel Serres, and his thinking with Serres about wastes of war, their unruly temporalities and insidious planetary effects. Michel Serres’ work rarely appears in the debates on war, collective violence, and the suffering engendered by such mass atrocities. Yet Serres saw in wars a great planetary danger. On numerous occasions, Serres readily admitted that his writing cannot be separated from the events of his early life. What forged Serres’ pathways of coming-of-age was “violence, death, blood and tears, hunger, bombings, deportations” in France of the 1930s and 1940s, and the global reverberations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki catastrophes (Serres and Latour 1995:4). Being a witness to that era, as Serres often argued, shaped his trajectory towards becoming an ardent critic of modernist epistemology for not asking about the relationship between science and violence, and thus about scientific responsibility more broadly. In this talk, Henig first examines how these experiences profoundly formed Serres’ topological theories of time and history. In his later work, Serres further expanded this topological perspective to his arguments on the general ecology of pollution. Bringing Serres’ topological perspectives on time and pollution together, Henig will outline how it can spearhead new avenues for thinking and writing about the long-lasting socio-environmental effects of wars and their aftermaths in the Anthropocene.
Everyone interested is invited to attend. No registration needed.
David Henig is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Utrecht University, Netherlands, specializing in Muslim politics, military waste and war ecologies, and conflict and coexistence. He has conducted research in West Asia and Europe, is author of Remaking Muslim Lives (Illinois, 2020), and co-editor of Economies of Favour After Socialism (Oxford, 2017), and Where is the Good in the World? Ethical Life between Social Theory and Philosophy (Berghahn, 2022). He is currently working on a project “Deadly Environments: Living among Explosive War Remnants in former Yugoslavia”, funded by the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.