Thursday, September 15, 2022
4:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.
True North Classroom, Stephen Robert '62 Hall, 280 Brook Street
This event is part of the conference: Rethinking Binational Cities: Israel/Palestine and Beyond
Reception to follow.
Eyal Weizman will speak about cities, warfare, neo-colonization, and apartheid, not by focusing on built structures but on the air that moves through cities. Airborne toxins, like the colored smoke in a wind tunnel, highlight the dynamics of power and control that we must pay more attention to. Tear gas is deployed to disperse bodies gathering in democratic protest, white phosphorus, and chlorine gas to spread terror in cities, aerial herbicides to destroy arable land and ruin livelihoods, and the smoke rising from large-scale arson to eradicate forests for industrial plantations. Toxic clouds colonize the air we breathe across different scales and durations, from urban squares to continents, unique incidents to epochal latencies.
This violence is not momentary and kinetic like a gunshot or explosion, where ‘every contact leaves a trace. In analyzing airborne violence, causality is hard to demonstrate; the ‘contact’ and the ‘trace’ drift apart, carried away by winds or ocean currents. When clouds shift from the physical to the epistemological, toxic fogs also breeds lethal doubt. When those in power deny the neo-colonial realities, those forced to inhabit the clouds must find new forms of resistance.
These ideas will be developed through the presentation of a number of investigations Forensic Architecture has undertaken in places from Palestine through Chile to Indonesia. Weizman will also discuss the reception this work has had and what he thinks we can learn from the controversies it has generated.
Nadia L. Abu El-Haj, Professor, Barnard College will give a response and moderate.
Co-sponsored by the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities & Cultural Heritage and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.