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

Discussion with Nikita Dhawan, María do Mar Castro Varela und Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak

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 New York werden sie ein Gespräch mit Wissenschaftlerin, Literaturtheoretikerin und feministische Kritikerin, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak führen. Zusammen werden sie Methoden zum Verständnis und zur Förderung dekolonialer Kunstpraktiken und ihrer transformativen Auswirkungen auf die Gesellschaft insgesamt diskutieren.
*This event will be held in English.*

In times of multiple crises, it is imperative to (re)examine the mandate of art. What role should art play in the face of rising social injustices? Could critical artistic practices facilitate transnational justice and democracy, protecting and promoting human rights? Or should art remain non-purposive (or, unzweckmäßig, as phrased by Kant and Adorno)? Given that art functions within structures of capitalism and coloniality, the role of art and art institutions is ambivalent. Can the political labor of training the imagination mitigate unjust structures and practices? To find answers to this pressing question we (a) look into artivism, whose origins lie in the social movements of the 1970s and 1980s in Los Angeles and Berlin and (b) examine if and how an aesthetic education can help us imagine a planetary future.

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.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor at the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and a founding member of Columbia’s Institute for Comparative Literature and Society.
Attendance Information
Attendance to this event is free and open to the public.


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

Goethe-Institut New York

30 Irving Place,

New York, NY 10003
An event in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut New York.

06:00 - 08:00 Watch