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Wednesday December 13, 2023, 7 pm Palestine time

Prof. Etienne Balibar (Paris-Ouest University)

Title: Palestine, Ukraine and other wars of extermination: the local and the global

Abstract: The war in Ukraine and the war in Palestine are certainly not the only cases of “hot” wars in our present or recent past, and they are likely not to remain the only ones in a predictable future. However, they confront us immediately with equally dramatic interpellations. And, with all their differences, which cannot be neglected, tracing back in each case to a long, complex, tragic history, and referring to the circumstances of their beginning (or new beginning), they raise certain common problems. Some are essentially linked to their “local” determinations, such as the highly conflictual issues of appropriation and expropriation which govern the articulation of population and territory, and above all the moral and juridical issues of justice which arise from relations of domination, aggression, destruction, extermination. Others involve a “global” perspective, which however can be inscribed in very different analytical frames of interpretation: international law and the resolution of conflicts, imperialist and anti-imperialist strategies, nationalist policies of militarisation and cosmopolitan forces of demilitarisation. The lecture has no pretention to cover all these dimensions of the situation, not to mention offering “solutions” to bring about a “just peace” in each case. It will try and reflect on this articulation of the two levels and submit provisional lessons of the comparison for discussion. Never forgetting that – as citizens of the world with more or less direct personal ties to the peoples and places currently under destruction and massacre – our principal duty is to act, not to talk. But acting, where and when possible, also requires thinking in common.

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Biographical Sketch

Etienne Balibar was born in 1942. He graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris, later took his PhD from the University of Nijmegen (Netherlands). He is now Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris-Nanterre, and Anniversary Chair of Contemporary European Philosophy at Kingston University, London. He is also a visiting professor at Columbia University in the City of New York.

He is author or co-author of Reading Capital (with Louis Althusser) (1965); Race, Nation, Class. Ambiguous Identities (Verso, 1991, with Immanuel Wallerstein); Masses, Classes, Ideas (Routledge, 1994); The Philosophy of Marx (Verso 1995), Spinoza and Politics (Verso 1998), Politics and the Other Scene (Verso, 2002); We, the People of Europe? Reflections on Transnational Citizenship (Princeton, 2004); Identity and Difference: John Locke and the Invention of Consciousness (Verso, 2013); Violence and Civility (Columbia University Press, 2015); Citizen Subject. Foundations for Philosophical Anthropology (Fordham University Press, 2017); Secularism and Cosmopolitanism (Columbia University Press, 2018).  

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