Sami Khatib. Always Dehistoricize! The Space of Capital and the Aesthetics of the End Times

Sami Khatib. Always Dehistoricize! The Space of Capital and the Aesthetics of the End TimesSami Khatib. Always Dehistoricize! The Space of Capital and the Aesthetics of the End Times


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.



Sami Khatib is a researcher and a visiting scholar at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Germany. His work spans the fields of critical theory, aesthetic theory, and modern continental philosophy. Recently, he worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the DFG-funded research training group Cultures of Critique at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg. He is a founding member of the Beirut Institute for Critical Analysis and Research (BICAR). He taught at Freie Universität Berlin, Jan van Eyck Academie Maastricht, American University of Beirut and Akademie der bildenden Künste (Vienna). Recent publications include the essays "Barbaric Salvage: Benjamin and the Dialectics of Destruction" in parallax (2018), "Practice Makes Perfect. On Undoing Bourgeois Pedagogy" in boundary (2018), "Sensuous Supra-Sensuous’. The Aesthetics of Real Abstraction" in Aesthetic Marx (London: Bloomsbury, 2017) and "No Future: The Space of Capital and the Time of Dying" in Former West: Art and the Contemporary after 1989 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2017).