Perth Philosophy Circle Presents:
Identity, Difference and Belonging
A public philosophy lecture series in seven parts.
Our past decade has featured an intensification of conflicts surrounding identity, belonging, and difference. As such, how we and others forge our identities in line with who and what we belong to has reasserted itself as a central question of our current socio-political situation. Crises of global proportions – climate change, mass migration, economic collapse – have been met with either calls for inclusive international collaboration, or exclusive national interest and security. At the same time, multiculturalism and internationalism have come into conflict with the re-emergence and normalisation of nationalist, protectionist and xenophobic social movements. In the “Western” world in particular, what has been described as “identity politics” has become the central concern of socio-political activism across the political spectrum. The scrutiny and contest of representations of identities of gender, race and sexuality in the media have consequently become a predominant focus of both progressive and conservative voices alike.
These conflicts raise questions both new and old: with our increasingly atomised and fractured communities, to what or who do we belong, if anything? In what ways do notions such as culture, race, gender and sexuality enable and constrain practices of amelioration and emancipation? How do all of us understand, belong to and participate in a history that precedes us, and an uncertain future that lays before us?
In this series of lectures, we hope to open up a space of dialogue in order to engage with ways of thinking about belonging, identity and difference, and throughout we will discuss the possibility of seeing our shared future differently. Each lecture will last roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour and will be followed by questions and conversation.
We invite you to join us for a night of ideas, discussion and drinks as we ask what it means to be human in our contemporary world.
No knowledge of philosophy is required; everyone is welcome to attend.
Free to attend but tickets required. All refreshments and food are available for purchase from Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle.
When? The date of Part One is to be confirmed. Lectures will generally fall on the third Monday of each month.
Where? Clancy’s Fish Pub, Fremantle: 51 Cantonment St, Fremantle WA 6160.
Part One of Seven
Utopia for One: Futurity and Community in the Age of the Individual
Presented by Heather Bloor, PhD Candidate.
Date to be confirmed
“With this first lecture we’ll be returning to the same issue we closed last year’s series with – the idea of utopia. This will open up our discussion and raise questions regarding our understanding of identity and difference amidst increasingly atomised and fractured communities, and ask to what or who do we belong, if anything?
In 1947, Karl Popper argued that utopianism was nothing more than a “quarrel about ends”, and that “the Utopianist must win over, or else crush, his Utopianist competitors who do not share his own Utopian aims and … as far as possible stamp out all memory of them”. In this lecture I will outline how the term utopia has been adopted in both critical theory and popular usage over the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Attacks on the idea of utopia such as Popper’s are typical of the shift in the twentieth century from thinking of the utopia as the ideal ‘no-place’ to associating it with a blueprint to which we must mould society. Such attacks tend to only consider utopia as the individual vision competing in, might we say, a ‘marketplace of ideas’, and reduce our social situation to an opposition between liberalism, in which isolated individuals look after their own interests, and totalitarianism, in which isolated individuals are subjected to the interests of one individual or group. But can the idea of utopia challenge this reduction of community to the aggregate of isolated individuals? In this lecture I will argue that by emphasising the elements of futurity and community essential to utopian thinking, we can save utopia from its reduction to a blueprint for society, and recover it as a tool with which to reflect on our world, and imagine a future which is not merely a perpetuation of the present.”