« Une autre politique du monde ne reposant plus nécessairement sur la différence ou l’altérité, mais sur une certaine idée du semblable et de l’en-commun, est-elle possible ? »

– Achille Mbembe, Politiques de l’inimitié


The Minor Universality project aims to contribute to the debate on universality after Western universalism. Starting from the essential role narration plays in collective imaginaries, it seeks to understand how a new consciousness of universality is under way of being produced in contemporary social practices and cultural expressions such as oral transmissions and narrations of the self, literatures and archives, films and festivals, curatorial spaces and museums. Building on the importance of such concepts as concreteness, reparation, relation and translation, it wants to re-expand the material and medial turns to processes of experience, reflection and agency.

The Project
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Universalism & the partisan position

A Conversation with Arjun Appadurai (New York / Berlin)

In this fifth episode of our series, the Minor Universality research team is in conversation with the anthropologist Arjun Appadurai, professor at the Bard Graduate Centre, New York, and at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where he is associated with the Department of European Ethnology. This conversation traverses thinking about globalisation and cosmopolitanism, but asking what happens to understandings of the nation state in an era of its reinstatement. Has the idea of a global life and consciousness been rendered illusory by its increasing challenge from identitarian movements and populist politics? Traversing his own biographical trajectory as a public intellectual, with movements from India to the US and Europe, we discuss the relation of theories of transnationalism with the real experience of émigré intellectual politics. We also discuss the legacy of Arjun Appadurai's own archive and its reinstatement as a local research library, asking what happens to the aftermath of the social life of things, once they move from academic to artistic spheres of valuation. After all, as we notice in a time of increasing standstill and questioning of flows of people and things, and diseases that render frontiers absurd, we also ask what role institutions like the academy or museums play in acting as facilitators or perhaps as immobilisers of such movements. The conversation ends with a fervent plea for a partisan position, a push to act, as academics and public intellectuals, as "mediators, facilitators, and promoters of the ethics of possibility against the ethics of probability”.


The interview on YouTube




Restitution, Reparations, Reparation – Towards a New Global Society? International Summer School│ Call for Participation

The Cluster for European Research (CEUS) of Saarland University and Villa Vigoni - German-Italian Centre for European Dialogue are organising an international summer school on questions of the reparation and/or irreparability of subjectivity, history, and nature from September 9-13, 2021 at Villa Vigoni. Interested PhD students from the humanities and social sciences as well as graduate students holding a Master’s degree that are about to start their doctoral studies can apply by 1st July 2021.


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Universalism & multilateralism

A conversation with Souleymane Bachir Diagne (Columbia, New York)

For the fourth episode of its series, the Minor Universality research team spoke with the philosopher Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Professor of French and Philosophy at Columbia University (New York), where he also directs the Institute for African Studies. This conversation reflects on how to engage universality from a decolonial perspective. Reflecting on the inequalities and injustice that persist in the contemporary world, how can communities that find themselves in a struggle for emancipation think the universal and humanity? Can we conceive of a universal that is not exclusive or imperial? Drawing on a philosophy of decolonial thought and translation, Souleymane Bachir Diagne shows how we can rethink the universal from the lateralism induced by translation, as opposed to a "vertical universal", a universal self-proclaimed from a dominant language/culture. So how can we think today about a politics of a humanity in the making; an ethics of human rights that would take into account its own limits without falling into relativism? The demand for reparations, whether symbolic or financial, for the violence and ills inflicted by slavery and colonialism is long-standing. Finally, beyond the possibility of "repairing" or "compensating", should we not start by "addressing the irreparable" as the only starting point for a new common humanity? And what is Europe's place in a world that must learn to build itself and have a common vision?


The interview on YouTube