Skip to main content

Perception, Rights and Valorization in Colonial Modernity: On the Nexus of Primitive Accumulation, Race, and Western Aesthetics

Project leaders:
Ruth Sonderegger (Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, IKW)
Katja Diefenbach (European University Viadrina Frankfurt an der Oder)
Pablo Valdivia (European University Viadrina Frankfurt an der Oder)

1,5 years

Funded by:
Volkswagen Foundation | Open Up Programme

Volkswagen Foundation | Open Up Programme
led by Ruth Sonderegger, Institute for Art Theory and Cultural Studies
Duration: 1.4.2023 – 30.9.2024

This project investigates the way in which the western tradition of philosophical Aesthetics has been developed through mechanisms of appropriation and disenfranchisement characteristic of colonial modernity. It is particularly attentive to the dynamic, which has been neglected for far too long, of racialization and its complex entanglement with economic valorization, patriarchal power, and the domination of nature. In this regard, the project engages contemporary debates concerning the on-going process of primitive accumulation. The project brings into focus the manner in which mechanisms of violent dispossession have inscribed themselves within the foundational narratives of aesthetic and legal subjectivation, which are still epistemologically effective today.

On the basis of these analyses, the project poses the speculative question of whether and how aesthetic theory can attend to all those practices of the sensible that break with the schemata of possessive individualism and valorization. The research project dares to open up a new aesthetic by bringing decolonial and minoritarian traditions of thought into a new constellation. In this way, it becomes possible to think the future of a heterodox politics of the sensible that breaks with the concepts of autonomy and subjectivity in colonial modernity. Where possession was, there shall be relation.