Michael Rothberg (UCLA) will discuss his new book in conversation with Gil Hochberg (Columbia University). Presented by the Rifkind Center for the Humanities and the Arts at the City College of New York in collaboration with Centro Primo Levi and the Columbia University Cultural Memory Seminar.
When it comes to historical violence and contemporary inequality, none of us are completely innocent. We may not be direct agents of harm, but we may still contribute to, inhabit, or benefit from regimes of domination that we neither set up nor control. Arguing that the familiar categories of victim, perpetrator, and bystander do not adequately account for our connection to injustices past and present, Michael Rothberg offers a new theory of political responsibility through the figure of the implicated subject.
The Implicated Subject builds on the comparative, transnational framework of Rothberg’s influential work on memory to engage in reflection and analysis of cultural texts, archives, and activist move- ments from such contested zones as transitional South Africa, contemporary Israel/Palestine, post-Holocaust Europe, and a transatlantic realm marked by the after- lives of slavery. As these diverse sites of inquiry indicate, the processes and histories illuminated by implicated subjectivity are legion in our interconnected world.
An array of globally prominent artists, writers, and thinkers—from William Kentridge, Hito Steyerl, and Jamaica Kincaid, to Hannah Arendt, Primo Levi, Judith Butler, and the Combahee River Collective—speak to this interconnection and show how confronting our own implication in difficult histories can lead to new forms of internationalism and long-distance solidarity.
MICHAEL ROTHBERG is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. His Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (2009). He is also the author of Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation (2000), and co-edited The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings (2003) with Neil Levi. With Yasemin Yildiz (UCLA), he is writing another book that focuses on the intersections between migration and confrontation with National Socialism and the Holocaust in contemporary Germany.
GIL HOCHBERG is the Ransford Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature and Middle East Studies at Columbia University. She is the author of VisualOccupations: Vision and Visibility in a Conflict Zone (2015) and In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination (2007).