Elizabeth Povinelli at MoMA PS1

Elizabeth Povinelli at MoMA PS1

Elizabeth Povinelli at MoMA PS1
March 25, 2012

After the fall of state communism and in the wake of myriad announcements about the end of history that characterized the early 1990s, the near collapse of the financial sector in 2008 opened the possibility of potentially new forms of political life. Perhaps there was still a front and back to history–that towards which being was directed and that from which it had moved. Events since have not supported this hope. Being remains enclosed if not by a political form of government (democracy) then by a economic form of compulsion. Rather than neoliberal finance unveiling its internal limits in a global market, democracy has all but given way throughout Europe and has never seemed to be needed in China. If democracy is the back of history, there seems no front to neoliberal being. How do we think about the sources of the political otherwise when being seems trapped in an enclosure rather than having a front or back? Where are the sensuous modes of becoming within the global circulations of being that have defined the character of modern politics and markets?

Elizabeth A. Povinelli’s work has focused on developing a critical theory of late liberalism that would support an anthropology of the otherwise. She has explored this question in four books, most recently Economies of Abandonment; in the short film, “Karrabing, Low Tide Turning,” selected for the 2012 Berlinale International Film Festival, Shorts Competition; and most recently in a graphic memoir. She currently is Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University.


Elizabeth A. Povinelli is Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Columbia University. Her books include Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism (2016), Economies of Abandonment: Social Belonging and Endurance in Late Liberalism (2011), and The Cunning of Recognition: Indigenous Alterities and the Making of Australian Multiculturalism (2002). She is also a founding member of the Karrabing Film Collective.

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