Alexis Shotwell: "Working or playing at freedom" - Lecture and Discussion (2023)


October 20th 2023, 6-8pm, Hörsaal 2G (NIG), Department of Philosophy (and online)


The Reading Circle of the Research Group “Poststructuralism, Gender Theory, Psychoanalysis” at the University of Vienna cordially invites you to the next public event:


Alexis Shotwell (Carleton University Ottawa)

Working or playing at freedom


Abstract:  Ursula Le Guin thinks of freedom as an ongoing process, a practice rather than an achievement, something to be worked on rather than won. While our freedom can be stolen from us, in her work, it cannot be given to us: we each must manifest it through our unique, specific lives. Such freedom, she argues, is only really available in societies organized around justice and mutual aid. It does not fully exist yet. Perhaps along the way to social relations not organized to benefit some and oppress many, practicing freedom can open more possibilities for us individually and for our collective worlds. Because the work of creating such freedom is ongoing, Le Guin and others conceive of freedom as something we build in an ongoing way – we never stop working on it. The worry about such a accounts: They may reinforce ableist and productivist normative commitments that bolster capitalist value structures. In this paper, I elaborate those worries, and think with Le Guin and others about the connections among freedom, the idea that we each have worth in virtue of our uniqueness, and the promise of idle play as a form of creating beauty.



Register for online participation:


Alexis Shotwell is a professor at Carleton University, on unceded Algonquin territory. She is the co-investigator for the AIDS Activist History Project, and author of Knowing Otherwise: Race, Gender, and Implicit Understanding and Against Purity: Living Ethically in Compromised Times.


Since 2021 the Reading Circle PS-GT-PA includes public events additionally to the monthly readings. Lectures and workshops have been held with Brian Massumi, Erin Manning, Avital Ronell, Didier Debaise and Shomo Choudhury.