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Lecture ICI Berlin

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky: Diffracting the Rays of Knowledge

Figural and Agential Realism in Donna Haraway and Karen Barad

Jun 2012

According to Donna J. Haraway and Karen Barad, the realness of the world appears in the fact that the world is in connection. What figure could symbolize this better than that of diffraction? Like reflection, diffraction is an optical metaphor. Yet, in contrast to the concept of reflection that of diffraction neither relates to the mirror-metaphor nor follows the model of the copy. Hence both Haraway and Barad proclaim a “diffractional turn.” Yet, they differ with regard to the kind of realism they advocate. While Haraway proposes a figural realism, working with style, language and metaphors, Barad delineates an agential realism, which refers to quantum mechanics. As opposed to Haraway, Barad does not intend to create new stories, figures or myths. Instead of relying on semiotics, she argues for an ontological turn. She wants to unify quantum mechanics with the subatomic world in a new epistemo-ontology. In her talk, Deuber-Mankowsky presents Haraway’s and Barad’s different references to diffraction and then compares their positions.

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky is Professor of Media Studies at the Ruhr-University Bochum. She has published extensively on topics in feminist theory, representation and mediality, media theory and philosophy as well as religion and modernism. Her book Der frühe Walter Benjamin und Hermann Cohen. Jüdische Werte, Kritische Philosophie, vergängliche Erfahrung (Berlin: Vorwerk 8, 2000) was awarded the Humboldt University Prize for best dissertation. English translations of her writings include Lara Croft: Cyber Heroine (Minneapolis London: UMP, 2005). Her most recent book is entitled Praktiken der Illusion. Kant, Nietzsche, Cohen, Benjamin bis Donna J. Haraway and was published in 2007 (Berlin: Vorwerk 8).

The lecture is part of the ICI Lecture Series On Complementarity.

Conceived within the framework of the ICI Core Project Tension/ Spannung, the ICI Lecture Series On Complementarity will explore the critical potential of complementarity in the Sciences, the Arts, and Politics.

Time: Thursday, 7 June 2012, 19:30

Venue: ICI Berlin

In English

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