Me and We: networked connection and disconnection

15 Sep 2020

6:00 – 7:30 p.m. (GMT +08:00)

Prof. Dan ZAHAVI

Professor of Philosophy, University of Copenhagen and Director of Center for Subjectivity Research

Dan Zahavi is Professor of Philosophy at University of Copenhagen and University of Oxford, and director of the Center for Subjectivity Research in Copenhagen.  Zahavi’s primary research area is phenomenology and philosophy of mind, and their intersection with empirical disciplines such as psychiatry and psychology. In addition to a number of scholarly works on the phenomenology of Husserl,  Zahavi has mainly written on the nature of selfhood, self-consciousness, intersubjectivity, empathy, and social ontology. His most important publications include Self-awareness and Alterity (1999), Husserl’s Phenomenology (2003), Subjectivity and Selfhood (2005), The Phenomenological Mind (together with Shaun Gallagher) (2008/2012/2020), Self and Other (2014), Husserl’s Legacy (2017), and Phenomenology: The Basics (2019). Zahavi also serves as the co-editor in chief of the journal  Phenomenology and the cognitive sciences.

Sociality and embodiment – online communication during the Covid-19 crisis

Abstract: We have all had to familiarize ourselves with different forms of online communication. Some techgiants are suggesting that we should build on the acquired familiarity and continue to use the technology after the crisis has ended. Firms like Facebook and Siemens are predicting that large parts of their workforce will work from home in the future. Others are promoting increasing use of telehealth and online teaching. In my talk, I will discuss some of the important differences between online communication and offline interaction and argue that the former cannot replace the latter. I will also discuss in what way online communication might fall short of enabling strong forms of social cohesion.

Photo credit: Thomas Szanto

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Prof. Ien ANG

Distinguished Professor of Cultural Studies, Western Sydney University and The Founding Director of the Institute for Culture and Society

Distinguished Professor Ien Ang is a Professor of Cultural Studies at Western Sydney University, where she was the founding Director of the Institute for Culture and Society. Her books, including Watching Dallas, Desperately seeking the audience and On not speaking Chinese: Living Between Asia and the West, are recognised as classics in the field and her work has been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Turkish, German, Korean, and Spanish. Her most recent books are Chinatown Unbound: Trans-Asian Urbanism in the Age of China (Rowman and Littlefield, 2019, co-authored with Kay Anderson et al) and Cultural diplomacy: Beyond the national interest (Routledge, 2016, co-edited).

Me and We: Toward critical cosmopolitanization

Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the organic crisis of the global capitalist neoliberal order. This organic crisis is manifest in the multiple ways in which this system entrenches human divisiveness, at local and global levels, impeding the generation of an expansive perspective of solidarity and cooperation, required not only to respond effectively to the pandemic, but more broadly, if we are to work towards a future humankind living in harmony among each other and with the planet. I will discuss some of the ways in which human divisiveness is not just ingrained, but actively amplified today, making the envisioning of a ‘common humanity’ virtually impossible. I argue that to have a chance of a common future, we need to maintain a critical cosmopolitan horizon against the grain of the self-interested closures and exclusions underpinning the organic crisis.

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Prof. Jennifer Daryl SLACK

Distinguished Professor of Communication and Cultural Studies, Humanities, Michigan Technology University

Jennifer Daryl Slack is Distinguished Professor of Communication and Cultural Studies at Michigan Technological University and Founding Director of the Institute for Policy, Ethics, and Culture. Slack’s research in cultural studies spans both the theoretical and practical applications of theory to address emergent issues related primarily to technology, environment, color, and creativity. Representative publications include Culture and Technology: A Primer (With J. Macgregor Wise) (2005/2015); Cultural Studies 1983: A Theoretical History by Stuart Hall (coedited with Lawrence Grossberg) (2016); and the forthcoming Algorithmic Culture (co-edited with Stefka Hristova and Soonkwan Hong). Slack has lived largely in isolation in the United States with limited internet connectivity since the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic reached the United States in February 2020. That experience has deeply influenced her understanding of the crisis.

Me Versus We: Connections in Crisis in the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic

Abstract: Living through this pandemic—in the rural U.S. with limited internet connectivity—has tested everything I know about how culture works to create unity and disunity and, more significantly, it has challenged the capacity to act on that knowledge. To gather knowledge and attempt to craft useful responses, I have turned to histories of pandemics, the science of epidemiology, comparisons among countries’ responses, and a range of news sources and social media. I have also engaged others online (as my connectivity permits), in grocery stores, and in my rural neighborhood, living as it were the vicissitudes of daily life in a pandemic. In this presentation I discuss what I have learned about the ways relationships between me and we “shimmer”—at least in the United States—and generate tensions that have contributed to mixed and often disastrously inadequate responses to the pandemic. To do this I draw on images and related practices of drones, social media, masks, and the measurement of physical distance. All of these serve as means for affecting one another at a distance: bringing us into connection but keeping us separate; violating and enabling isolation; contributing to contradictory and unresolved senses of who me/we are; confusing a sense of our responsibilities to one another.

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The opinions expressed by the speakers represent their own views, and do not reflect HKBU’s position.

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