Reinhold Görling at UIT February 2010
Session 1: (Monday February 8th 2010; 1015-1200 at E-0103)

"Borders of the Human: On Vulnerability and Violence"

No living being is self-contained. We are all involved in a constant process of exchange with something or someone else: we breathe, we drink, we eat, we perceive with our senses and are perceived by the senses of others. Our emotions and thoughts are always already closely connected and interwoven with the world. Human life is less autopoetic than heteropoetic.
The subject is vulnerable precisely because, in its formation and in its whole life, it is fundamentally dependent on the other. Societies can provide us with protection, but they can just as easily threaten us, indeed, they can deliberately and willingly hurt us and cause us pain. The most extreme example is torture. Torture is a phenomenon specific to societies. It is a technique for making the distinctive characteristic of life, its openness and dependence on others, into the means of its destruction.
With the concept of vulnerablity I refer to Judith Butler, especially to the chapter "Survivability, Vulnerability, Affect" of her book "Frames of War" (2009).

Reinhold Görling is professor of media and cultural analysis at Heinrich-Heine Universität, Düsseldorf. He has published on German and Spanish literature, on theory of comparative literature, on borders and interculturality, on psychoanalysis and culture, and on violence. Currently he is working in an interdisciplinary research project on torture and the possibilities of its abolition.

Prof. Görling's lecture is now available online. Please follow the link: Vulnerability/Violence

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