Events
Commons Conversations

Insurgent Aesthetics

Commons Conversations
18 Nov, 2019

Insurgent Aesthetics

with Ronak K. Kapadia
Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, Chicago

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In Insurgent Aesthetics Ronak K. Kapadia theorizes the world-making power of contemporary art responses to US militarism in the Greater Middle East. He traces how new forms of remote killing, torture, confinement, and surveillance have created a distinctive post-9/11 infrastructure of racialized state violence. Linking these new forms of violence to the history of American imperialism and conquest, Kapadia shows how Arab, Muslim, and South Asian diasporic multimedia artists force a reckoning with the US war on terror's violent destruction and its impacts on immigrant and refugee communities. Drawing on an eclectic range of visual, installation, and performance works, Kapadia reveals queer feminist decolonial critiques of the US security state that visualize subjugated histories of US militarism and make palpable what he terms “the sensorial life of empire.” In this way, these artists forge new aesthetic and social alliances that sustain critical opposition to the global war machine and create alternative ways of knowing and feeling beyond the forever war.

About Ronak Kapadia

Ronak K. Kapadia is Assistant Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and affiliated faculty in Art History, Global Asian Studies, and Museum & Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. An interdisciplinary cultural theorist of race, security, sensation, and empire in the late 20th and early 21st century United States, Kapadia is author of Insurgent Aesthetics: Security and the Queer Life of the Forever War (Duke UP 2019). This book theorizes the world-making potential of contemporary artistic responses to US militarism in the Greater Middle East. Kapadia's writing also appears or is forthcoming in Asian American Literary Review, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Feminist Formations, Verge: Studies in Global Asias, International Journal of Cultural Studies, and edited volumes including: Shifting Borders: America and the Middle East/North Africa (AUB Press 2014), Critical Ethnic Studies: A Reader (Duke UP 2016), and With Stones In Our Hands: Writings on Muslims, Racism, and US Empire (U Minnesota Press 2018). With Simone Browne and Katherine McKittrick, Kapadia is co-editor of the spring 2017 special issue of Surveillance and Society on race, communities, and informers. Kapadia has also begun work on his second book project, tentatively titled Breathing in the Brown Queer Commons, which develops a critical theory of healing justice in the wilds of imperial decline and ecological chaos. For updated links to his publications and upcoming talks, you can see his website and follow his twitter.

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