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Cornelia Gräbner to address 'Poetry in Public Spaces' research group at Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Date: 12 March 2014

On 6 May 2014, at 12 pm, Cornelia Gräbner (DELC)will speak to colleagues and postgraduate students at the university Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium, on invitation of the research group 'Poetry in Public Spaces' from that university. The event consists of a lecture and a workshop.

Poetry in Public Spaces during the Apotheosis of Neoliberalism: Public Poetry Performances and the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico

This paper explores the role of poetry in public spaces, and possible critical responses to it, during what has been described as one of the apotheoses of neoliberalism: the escalation of structural and physical violence in Mexico in the early 21st century.

The argument focuses on three points. Firstly and relatively briefly, on a reflection on the impact of neoliberal policy on the public sphere in Mexico, and on the role of poetry and the poetic word as a form of resistance to not only direct manifestations of violence, but also the fundamentally violent mind set that underpin neoliberal hegemony.At the end of this part of the lecture I will outline some of the challenges that critical methodologies face with regard to this situation.

These challenges I will illustrate with a case study. In 2011, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity formed as a response and alternative to the violence that ravaged the country. Poetry and the poetic word were crucial to the movement and to the encounters that were constructed when adherents of the movement travelled the country: each assembly started with a poetry reading, and many people - named and unnamed - contributed poetry as readers or listeners. Poetic language became one way of finding a language for pain, and encounters in the public space created the listening space where such experiences could be shared.

The third part of the paper focuses on the possibilities of response from Europe as one way of carrying further the poetic word as deployed by the MPJD, into other encounters and as a part of building global resistances to neoliberalism. The poetics of resistance are one such possible response. I will outline this methodology, including some terms adapted from the work of Boaventura de Sousa Santos (the poetics of absences and the poetics of emergences); and I will critically discuss the limits of critical methodologies and their relationship to other participants in what Alex Khasnabish has termed an 'insurgent public sphere'.


Further information

Associated departments and research centres: European Languages and Cultures


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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Lancaster University
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