Sami Khatib, following the theoretical marks left by Walter Benjamin and Karl Marx, will talk about an alternative way of understanding the past that is opposite to the present-day capitalist mainstream.
Our age is defined by the generalization of the commodity form, the global market appears as the last horizon of experience and imagination. This horizon, however, is spatial and not historical anymore: contemporaneity is translated into spatial segregation and juxtaposition of markets. If space is reduced to an abstract resource and concrete staging ground of global capital, time is stripped of its historical dimension—reduced to a sequential marker of dehistoricized space. Already the postmodern mode of spatialization was driven by “the will to use and to subject time to the service of space,” as Fredric Jameson noted in the early 1990s. Today we realize that this will has created a world after its own image. It seems that the continuum of space and spatialized time has no “outside.” The post-political fantasy of a self-regulating world market bound to perfection, self-improvement, and ecological sustainability operates without a historical horizon. Likewise, its non-dialectical flipside—the expectation of or aspiration for an impending collapse, catastrophe—remains strictly post historical: it only knows the dead eternity of end-time scenarios, apocalypse without disclosure (apokálypsis). In the deflated space of “capitalist realism” (Mark Fisher), critical theory is invited to choose between either fetishizing the past (this is the terrain of the culture industry of commemoration: the production of memory without history) or abandoning the battlefield of history altogether to engage in more cosmological questions about the impact of an abstract humankind on the planet and the universe. In his talk, Khatib will explore a third, alternative choice.