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On Movement: The Incarnations of Liberal ‘Freedom’

General Programming

dateOctober 28, 2010 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Columbia University

Pursuing a short claim made by Hannah Arendt, Hagar Kotef proposed that the body’s capacity for movement is the materialization of the Liberal concept of liberty. She argued that at least in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, movement was a primary mode of corporealization of the subject, at the core of Liberal theory. In other words, the Liberal subject appeared as a concrete, embodied subject in precisely those moments when he could be configured as a moving body. This claim counters a familiar critique of Liberalism that accuses it of fabricating a fiction of universality by abstracting its discursive object and allocating corporeality only to subjects at the margins of its discourse (women, poor, colonized).

  • Hagar Kotef Assistant Professor, Gender Studies Bar Ilan University