Events | "Dealing with Disenchantment: Aesthetic Enlightenment & the Art of Decolonization" - Panel Discussion with Nikita Dhawan, María do Mar Castro Varela, & Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

Goethe-Institut New York | October 6, 2023 | 3:00 PM (PT)

As part of their 2023 Thomas Mann Fellowships, scholars Nikita Dhawan and María do Mar Castro Varela will visit the east coast for several lectures and discussions with partners in the U.S. At the Goethe-Institut New York they be joined in a conversation with scholar, literary theorist, and feminist critic Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Together they will discuss methodologies to understand and further decoloniality-informed art practices and their transformative ramifications in society at large.

In times of multiple crises, it is imperative to (re)examine the mandate of art. What role should art play in the face of rising social injustices? Could critical artistic practices facilitate transnational justice and democracy, protecting and promoting human rights? Or should art remain non-purposive (or, unzweckmäßig, as phrased by Kant and Adorno)? Given that art functions within structures of capitalism and coloniality, the role of art and art institutions is ambivalent. Can the political labor of training the imagination mitigate unjust structures and practices? To find answers to this pressing question we (a) look into artivism, whose origins lie in the social movements of the 1970s and 1980s in Los Angeles and Berlin and (b) examine if and how an aesthetic education can help us imagine a planetary future.


María do Mar Castro Varela studied psychology and pedagogy at the University of Cologne and earned her doctorate in political science at the Justus Liebig University Giessen. She is a professor of general education and social work with a focus on gender and queer at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Science in Berlin. Her research focus on social justice, digital hate and conspiracy theories, and issues of emancipation.


Nikita Dhawan studied German Studies, Philosophy und Gender Studies at Mumbai University and Ruhr-University Bochum. She holds the Chair in Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Technical University Dresden. Her research and teaching focuses on global justice, human rights, democracy and decolonization.



Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is an Indian scholar, literary theorist, and feminist critic. She is a University Professor at Columbia University and a founding member of the establishment's Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Considered one of the most influential postcolonial intellectuals, Spivak is best known for her essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" and her translation of and introduction to Jacques Derrida's De la grammatologie.

Attendance Information

Attendance to this event is free and open to the public.



6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (EDT)


Goethe-Institut New York

30 Irving Place,

New York, NY 10003

An event in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut New York.

Goethe Institut

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