Aarhus Universitets segl

Karen-Margrethe Simonsen: A Cry in the Desert!

All are welcome to Aesthetic Seminar

Oplysninger om arrangementet


Torsdag 21. marts 2024,  kl. 14:15 - 16:00


Kasernen, Building 1584, Door A, Room 112. Langelandsgade 145, 8000 Aarhus C

Karen-Margrethe SimonsenA Cry in the Desert! Slavery and the Forensic Theatricality of Human Rights in Atrocity Tales, Stories and Plays from the Spanish Empire

How do you speak about rights when you have none? How do you speak about rights, when you are oppressed, in the midst of ongoing atrocities, on the brink of dying, or you are socially dead? Taking my point of departure in forensic aesthetics (Eyal Weizman, Thomas Keenan, Matthew Fuller), and recent theatrical jurisprudence (Marett Leiboff), I will argue that forensic theatricality plays a contested but significant role in making rights claims both in literary and non-literary texts. I distinguish between five forms of theatricality: allegorical, carnivalesque, tragicomic, melodramatic and tragic. The Spanish context is particularly interesting because of its early and radical tradition of human rights thinking in the Salamanca School (especially Bartolomé de Las Casas), – more radical than later liberal human rights thinking, and because of its long history (400 years) of double enslavement of both Africans and indigenous people in America. The talk will present and discuss a couple of examples from the beginning and the end of the Spanish empire, taken from my recent book about this topic (see bio-note).

Karen-Margrethe Simonsen is Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, AU. Research interests: world literature and literary history, Latin American literature, human rights and literature, literary history of slavery. Recent publications include: Slavery and The Forensic Theatricality of Human Rights in the Spanish Empire, Palgrave, 2023, Co.ed.: A Comparative Literary History of Modern Slavery, Vol. 1-2, John Benjamins, Forthcoming 2024. Co-ed.: Discursive Framings of Human Rights. Victimhood and Agency. London: Birkbeck Law Press, 2017, Sugar and Modernity in Latin America. Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Aarhus: Aarhus University Press, 2014. “Heterogeneic Time. An Anachronistic and Transcultural Rethinking of Eurochronology”, in Arcadia 53.2, 2018, 258-277.

Æstetisk Seminar F2024 er tilrettelagt af Morten Kyndrup og Thomas Rosendal, Institut for Kommunikation og Kultur, Aarhus Universitet.