On 5 July, 2016, I had the honour to be invited to the University of Stuttgart’s English Department to deliver a lecture on the topic “A Protest Not to Be Heard Of? Occupy and Non-Representation.”
The title was a reference to a text by political philosopher Bernard Harcourt, who loomed large in my presentation, as did the crises (yes, plural) of representation in theories of Jacques Rancière and Nigel Thrift.
Competing against fabulously warm weather, the audience was comprised of half a dozen members of the institute. It seems that the somewhat grandiose title failed to attract any students. Maybe in the future I should use more allusions to sex? Something along the lines of “Fifty Shades of Absence: Occupy and Non-Representation” springs to mind…
In spite of, or maybe because of, the limited numbers, the audience easily turned into great discussants in what oscillated between a Q&A and a brainstorming session on contemporary forms of protest, the Brexit referendum etc. Interestingly, I had the impression that my hosts were not so much interested in discussing the theories of Rancière and Thrift (cold coffee already?) but rather in the meat-to-the-bones issues of how protests play out today, what Occupy achieved or not and what repercussions it may send out historically.
It is good to know that there are others “out there” working along the same questions as I do, and it is even better to have the chance to meet them from time to time. Thanks to everyone at the institute, but especially to Stephanie Siewert, for making this possible.