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Fearless Speech

Initiated in 2016, the interdisciplinary event series “Fearless Speech” explores the question of critique in politics and the arts. The series focuses not only on political and ethical practices that contemporary artists use to open up new space of possibilities, but also introduces new artistic and political forms. In the season of 2017/18, we bid farewell to Foucault’s signature in the series’ subtitle, and yet we continue to explore his questions.

HAU Hebbel continues to retrace Foucault’s steps and actualizes his most crucial stances – his decisive dismissal of prisons and the judicial apparatus, of psychiatric evaluation, the administrative construction of identities, the production of obedience in schools and factories, the military production of assassinations, or the individual’s sexualization – before the background of today’s pressing questions. The French philosopher utilizes the term parrhesia, which he interprets as a particular aesthetic and intellectual practice of life. Foucault uses this term to counter more individualized forms of knowledge, such as “common sense and its fetishism of all things evidential. He understands parrhesia as the practice of “truth-telling" in a situation where one cannot fall back onto predetermined reassurances. The series asks how an individual can possibly resist to be formed in particular way. At the same time, it also questions taken for granted notions of common “knowledge.”

"Fearless Speech” will continue with a conversation between author Édouard Louis and sociologist Geoffroy de Lagasnerie, whose most recent works have both recently been published in German. In light of the continuously increasing rationale of repression and the penal system, these two French intellectuals contextualize Louis’ novel “History of Violence” (to be published in English in 2018) and Geoffroy de Lagasnerie’s study “L’Etat pénal face à la sociologie” (which translates into: “Sentencing: The punitive state and sociology”). Together, they envision an alternative ethics of justice, the law, and the relation to others. In his autobiographical novel “History of Violence”, the French literary scene’s shooting star and student of Didier Eribon speaks of rape and survival. The book is inspired by Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization” and follows an auto-socio-analytical approach. Louis and de Lagasnerie come together to formulate a new critique of the penal system and the state’s repression apparatus.

In an upcoming edition of "Fearless Speech", philosopher Judith Butler will not only assume a critical stance, but will also stand up for a form of truth-telling that will, by making an open and public appearance, counter the Trump administration’s politics. McKenzie Wark, who teaches Media and Cultural Studies at the New School in New York, will compare Foucault’s figure of the “specific intellectual” to Marx’ idea of a “general intellect”. With Diedrich Diederichsen, he will speak about “(Anti-)Correctness and (Anti-)Normativity”. As a representative of British Cultural Studies, Angela McRobbie will present her paper “Against the Dismantling of Welfare”, which focuses on neo-liberal governmentality in the age of ruthless austerity politics. Pop theorists Dan Hancox will offer insights into the music genre Grime, which centers on the locally specific “knowledge of the people”, of Afro-Diasporic musicians who become organic or quasi-specific intellections and, in doing so, lend a powerful voice to Britain’s subalterns. And Owen Hatherley will give a lecture about "Landscapes of communism". Helen Hester, Professor at the University of West London, will present her book on Xenofeminism, a feminist movement based on Cyberfeminism, which on the one hand turns estrangement and the non-natural into productive phenomena, while it on the other suggests the removal of class, "race", and gender categories. The Italian sociologist Sara R. Farris coined the term Femonationalism. In her research, she observes the highly charged instrumentalization of feminist terminology as it reoccurs in racist and nationalist contexts.

Previous editions of the series have hosted guests including Didier Eribon, Loïc Wacquant, Rahel Jaeggi, Daniel Zamora, Ruth Sonderegger, Jace Clayton, Ekaterina Degot, Nick Srnicek, Serhat Karakayali, Kathrin Busch, Helmut Draxler, Ute Tellmann, Roberto Nigro, and Alex Demirović.

Curated by Pascal Jurt
“Fearless Speech” is a HAU Hebbel am Ufer event series.


Fearless Speech #15
Judith Butler: Resistance for the Present?

Moderation: Rahel Jaeggi und Sabine Hark
English with German translation


Fearless Speech #14
Transgressing Transgressions

With Luce deLire, Virve Sutinen and Katharina Hausladen / Moderation: Colin Lang
English / In cooperation with Texte zur Kunst


Fearless Speech #13
Xenofeminism – A Politics for Alienation

With Helen Hester und Patricia Reed. Moderation: Sonja Eismann


Fearless Speech #12
Landscapes of Communism

With Owen Hatherley / Moderation: Christian Werthschulte


Fearless Speech #11
From Violence to Justice

With Édouard Louis and Geoffroy de Lagasnerie
French with German and English simultaneous translation


Fearless Speech #10
Platform Capitalism

With Nick Srnicek / Moderation: Christian Werthschulte


Fearless Speech #9
Die Waffen der Kritik. Dialektische Aufklärung heute

With Helmut Draxler, Rahel Jaeggi and Ruth Sonderegger 


Fearless Speech #8
Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture

With Jace Clayton aka DJ /rupture (NY) / Moderation: Lisa Blanning


Fearless Speech #7
The Local and the Global: Forms of Domination and Forms of Resistance

With Didier Eribon / Moderation: René Aguigah
French with German and English simultaneous translation


Fearless Speech #6
Foucault in Bohemia and Anti-Fascist Practice

With Mark Terkessidis and Pascal Jurt


Fearless Speech #5
Leftist Aesthetics Today?

With Ekaterina Degot, Anja Lemke and Serhat Karakayali



Fearless Speech #3
The Intolerable and Literature

With Édouard Louis amongst others
French with German translation


Fearless Speech #2
The Order of the Arts

With Ruth Sonderegger, Juliane Rebentisch, Roberto Nigro, Rosella Biscotti, Ulf Wuggenig and Pascal Jurt


Fearless Speech #1
Foucault and Neoliberalism

With Daniel Zamora and others


Fearless Speech #0
With Alex Demirović