Still from Serpent Rain (2016) by Denise Ferreira da Silva and Arjuna Neuman.
Denise Ferreira da Silva’s influential academic writing and artistic practice have highlighted how conceptions of humanity privileged within modern thought underpin forms of violence and dispossession experienced daily. Her thinking forms a vital stimulus for questions active in In formation III around conceptions of the mind, and implicit and explicit constraints imposed on the psyche. Her evening talk expands on concerns active within her current work, and will be followed on Sunday 26 August by a study group focused on black aesthetics.
Ferreira da Silva’s writing and thinking has rigorously addressed the ethical dimensions of the global present. She has considered the emergence of the notion of globality itself as a product of ‘the tools of nineteenth-century scientific projects of knowledge’, and the institution of racial subjection. In articulating the productive role played by the racial in sustaining the ‘post-Enlightenment version of the Subject as the sole self-determined thing,’ she has defined how the arsenal of social scientific knowledge, entwined with the writing of this subject, renders ongoing violence towards people of colour as not only expected, but also justified.
Through this lens, Ferreira da Silva has provided crucial insights into the economic, juridic and moral configurations active within contemporary moments of financial crisis, and the treatment of refugees within and outside European countries. In her writing and collaborative artistic work, Ferreira da Silva has speculated on a ‘Feminist Poethics of Blackness’, in doing so outlining existence ‘without the tools of universal reason,’ and beyond the global. Through such ‘poethical thinking’, she has sought to activate ‘blackness’s disruptive force’, to ‘tear the veil of transparency (even if briefly) and disclose what lies at the limits of justice.’
Dr Denise Ferreira da Silva is a Professor and Director of The Social Justice Institute (the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice) at the University of British Columbia. Before joining UBC, she was an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, at the University of California, San Diego and, from 2010 to 2015, she held the inaugural chair in Ethics at the School of Business and Management and the directorship of the Centre for Ethics and Politics, at Queen Mary University of London.
Her academic publications include the book Toward a Global Idea of Race (University of Minnesota Press, 2007), and the edited volume Race, Empire, and The Crisis of the Subprime (with Paula Chakravartty, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). She is the principal editor for the Routledge/Cavendish book series Law, Race, and the Postcolonial (with Mark Harris and Brenna Bhandar). Her art-related work includes texts for publications linked to the 2016 Liverpool and Sao Paulo Biennales, advising Natasha Ginwala, the curator for the Contour Biennale 8 (Mechelen, 2017), as well as events (performances, talks and private sessions) and texts that form part of her own practice, Poethical Readings (in collaboration with Valentina Desideri). Along with Arjuna Neuman, she produced the film Serpent Rain, commissioned by Stefano Harney for the 2016 Bergen Assembly.