All five houses of the network regard themselves as spaces of debate about the life and work of Thomas Mann.
What role does Thomas Mann’s lifelong concerns play in today’s world? In what way can the Mann family’s literature and political attitudes provoke us to think about the pressing issues of our times? Migration and exile, gender issues or political engagement and democracy are only a few of the topics that are of great relevance to the present day. Our houses regularly organize a series of digital and analog events on these topics and beyond. Visit our calendar of events and exchange ideas with us within an international context.

Dealing with Disenchantment: Aesthetic Enlightenment & the Art of Decolonization

Eine Podiumsdiskussion mit Nikita Dhawan & María do Mar Castro Varela

Los Angeles

Im Rahmen ihres 2023 Thomas Mann Fellowships unternehmen die Politikwissenschaftlerinnen Nikita Dhawan und María do Mar Castro Varela eine Reise an die Amerikanische Ostküste. Bei Lesungen, Vorträgen, und Gesprächen mit Partnern in den USA untersuchen sie Fragen zu ihrem Projekt zu einer ästhetischen Aufklärung und der Kunst der Dekolonisierung. Bei der Veranstaltung im Goethe-Institut Chicago widmen sie sich der Rolle einer ästhetischen Bildung im Streben nach einer postimperialen globalen Ethik und Politik.
*This event will be held in English.*

The heated debate around documenta fifteen in Kassel, 2022, brought to the fore questions about the function and value of aesthetics. Given that art is deeply entrenched within structures of capitalism and neo-colonialism, the political, social and economic role of art, artistic practices, and art institutions in current conditions of global inequality remains ambivalent and controversial. How do we synchronize in a globalized world the opposing and equally legitimate claims of conflicting memories? Might critical artistic practices facilitate transnational justice and democracy, protecting and promoting human rights? Can art make us political and ethical by provoking us out of our indifference and irresponsibility? Or to the contrary – should art be autonomous and non-purposive and not be placed in the service of political and ethical imperatives? Can the political labor of training the imagination mitigate imperialist, antisemitic, neo-colonist, racist, orientalist and heteronormative structures and practices?
María do Mar Castro Varela studied psychology and pedagogy at the University of Cologne and earned her doctorate in political science at the Justus Liebig University Giessen. She is a professor of general education and social work with a focus on gender and queer at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Science in Berlin. Her research focus on social justice, digital hate and conspiracy theories, and issues of emancipation.

Nikita Dhawan studied German Studies, Philosophy und Gender Studies at Mumbai University and Ruhr-University Bochum. She holds the Chair in Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Technical University Dresden. Her research and teaching focuses on global justice, human rights, democracy and decolonization.
Attendance Information
Attendance to this event is free and open to the public.


6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (CDT)

Goethe-Institut Chicago

150 Michigan Ave,

Suite 200

Chicago, IL 60601

An event in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Chicago.

06:00 - 08:00 Watch