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Weak Resistance and Solidarity in Contemporary Borderlands

Following Lauren Berlant we could say that today's optimism often becomes "cruel", as many institutions, in which we entrust our creative agency, labor and hopes, represent the most uncritical feudalism, foreclosing medieval rules of authoritarianism under the thin veil of knowledge and openness. More importantly however, this optimism enacts cruelty in the multiple abuses of representation politics, allowing and legitimizing such notions, as the supposed equality of the excluded, built on homogenizing notions of collective subjectivity, which introduce false unity of de facto heterogeneous and conflicted lived experiences of individuals and groups. Such fake unity fuels the pastoral powers of institutional and corporate "care for the population", allowing enhanced surveillance and control, while at the same time undermining any forms of solidarity and resistance.

The brutalized diversity of Borderlands experience, so meticulously depicted by Chicana feminists, including Gloria Anzaldua, has been made visible by the events taking place on the East border of Poland, which since 2004 has also been the East border of the European Union, with all the troublesome and sometimes tragic repercussions of it. While the dramatic events resulting of Russia's invasion in Ukraine made the Polish-Ukrainian border a welcoming zone for at least those of the war refugees, who happen to fulfil the racist criteria of whiteness, the Polish-Belarussian border has since 2021 became a brutally different version of the state of exception, with the 37 officially recognized deaths of the mainly non-European refugees trying to cross the border, in vain, being illegally pushed-back to Belarus, tortured by the border guards of both countries and left to die in the frozen primaeval forests of Białowieża.

While Poland and many other countries in Europe opened their homes and institutions to millions of war refugees fleeing the brutal war terror currently enacted in Ukraine, thousands of non-European refugees have died trying to enter the Fortress Europe via the Mediterranean Sea... and the Polish-Belarussian (and Lithuanian) border. The notions of "weak resistance" and solidarity allow depicting the painful diversity of all these Borderland experiences, while also allowing the problematic visibility their contradictions and alliances. In the critical negotiations of the institutional abuses and supposed disempowerment, represented by the brutality and lack of agency of the border guards on Polish-Belarussian border, we need to maintain the experience of vulnerability and exposure, while at the same time producing critically invested claims. To this task Dr. Majewska will try to build a methodological introduction.

Ewa Majewska – is a feminist theorist of culture, associate professor at the SWPS University in Warsaw, Poland, working on the queer studies/archive theory project “Public against their will. The production of subjects in the archives of "Hiacynt Action”, examining the state action targeting gay men in the 1980s Poland. She taught at the UDK Berlin, University of Warsaw; she was a visiting scholar at the UC Berkeley; ICI Berlin and IWM in Vienna. She published seven books, incl. Feminist Antifascism (Verso, 2021), as well as articles and essays in journals, magazines and collected volumes: e-flux, Signs, Third Text, Journal of Utopian Studies and others. Her research focuses on archive studies, dialectics of the weak; feminist critical theory and antifascism. She co-curated the exhibition of Mariola Przyjemska's work at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art in Warsaw (2022-2023).


This lecture takes place on June 1st, 2023 from 16.00 to 18.00 CET.


At Campus Neues Palais of the University of Potsdam, Building 9, Room 1.12. 

University of Potsdam,
Am Neuen Palais 10

14469 Potsdam