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"...I want to know what happens if we don't go..." Revisiting scenes of decolonial contention

Event Label
Workshop & Discussion
Organisational Units
Fine Arts
Location Address (1)
Schillerplatz 3
Location ZIP and/or City (1)
1010 Vienna
Location Room (1)

Workshop with lecture by Dr. Araba Evelyn Johnston-Arthur as part of the convivial workshop series (2022-2024), hosted and organized by the FWF PEEK research project “Conviviality as Potentiality: From Amnesia and Pandemic towards a Convivial Epistemology” (AR 679), led by Univ. Prof. Dr. Marina Gržinić (IBK/PCAP).
Input in English, discussion in German and English.

"...I want to know what happens if we don't go..." This question, posed 10 years ago by one of the activists of the Refugee Protest Camp Vienna to the then director of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, was part of a central scene of contention and radical decolonial institutional critique. In search of solidarity with the struggle for the right to have rights, the refugee protest collective had seized the space of the aula in the Academy. Only about a week later in November 2013, the Refugee Protest Camp Vienna activists were confronted with an ultimatum to leave the space. This momentous scene of expulsion marked the end of the practice of collective space seizing (of Refugee Protest Camp Vienna) that had been (and still is) so central to the language of resistance of the larger sans-papiers movement within Fortress Europe. The workshop takes this scene as a starting point and engages with practices of critical remembering and the echoing of multifaceted, silenced resistances. In other words, exploring what might happen and be transformed if radical intersectional critique and resistance are not expelled and repressed.

Araba Evelyn Johnston-Arthur is the co-founder of Pamoja. Movement of the Young African Diaspora in Austria and the Austrian Black History Research Group. She has been active as a community and cultural worker and "racism critical" activist in Vienna. In 1999, she was an active part of the Network of African Communities, which's focus lay in the mobilization of community protests against institutionalized racism and police violence in Vienna. Her transdisciplinary work engages with intersectionaly resistant diasporan politics and the "decolonizing art of mattering (embodied) memories."

Concurrent with teaching at Howard University in Washington DC as of June 1, 2023, Dr. Araba Evelyn Johnston-Arthur will join the team of the FWF PEEK research project “Conviviality as Potentialtiy” (AR 679) as a post-doctoral researcher.

The intervention ZAVZEMAMO PROSTOR /WIE GREIFEN RAUM of the Research group of Black Austrian f history and present/Pamoja was presented in the form of a banner on the roof of the Pavlova hiša (Pavel haus) in Laafeld, Austria (from June 30 to September 15, 2007), as part of the exhibition Topological Escapes: Interventions in Social, Cultural and Political Spaces. The act of occupying space in post-Nazi and neo-colonial Austria is linked to linguistic "space," as evidenced by the strong resistance of Austrian politicians and society to the erection of place-name signs in Slovenian and German.