Bonnie Honig to deliver Thinking Out Loud lecture series

The generation's most influential democratic theorist is set to arrive in Australia for a series of public lectures, organised by the University of Western Sydney and held at the State Library, to discuss whether we are actually better off thinking about democracy not in terms of the rights offered to citizens but by looking at how things are used.

Professor Bonnie Honig, from Northwestern University and the American Bar Foundation, will be in Sydney from April 15 to 19 for the second year of the 'Thinking Out Loud: Sydney Lectures in Philosophy and Society'.

Professor Honig says in the contemporary world of neo liberalism, efficiency is treated as the vehicle of political and economic health. State bureaucracy, but not corporate bureaucracy, is seen as inefficient, and privatisation is seen as a magic cure for social ills.

"One angle of the issue however is less noted: the impact on democratic forms of life of the loss of public things," Professor Honig says.

"These lectures will ask whether democracy is possible in the absence of public things. In other words, if neoliberalism leaves to democracy merely electoral majoritarianism and procedures of deliberation while divesting democratic states of their ownership of public things, what will the impact be?"

The Thinking Out Loud Lecture series will be split over three evenings in mid-April.

* Monday April 15 - Using the work of D. W.Winnicott, the object relations theorist, Lecture One will look at the transformative power of things, and their capacity to enchant citizenship.

* Tuesday April 16 - Lecture Two focuses on the work of Hannah Arendt, and notes the subtle heretofore unrecognized appreciation, in her writings, of shared and public things to the experience of equal citizenship, especially among Jews and Arabs in Israel/ Palestine. Here the question is whether land can serve as a public thing that supports or subverts democratic life.

* Friday April 19 - Lecture Three continues the focus on land, concentrating on first peoples' claims. Drawing on Jonathan Lear's Radical Hope, in which a member of the Crow People, deprived of their traditional way of life by white liberalism (a prequel to our contemporary experience with the neoliberal) remarks "I am living a life I do not understand", this lecture will look at various texts that explore what happens to people when they go through the motions of life deprived of public things.

Bookings for the Thinking Out Loud series are essential, and can be made at the State Library.

The Thinking Out Loud series is organised by the UWS School of Humanities and Communication Arts.


12 April 2013

Contact: Mark Smith, Media Officer

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