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Solidarity of the Shaken: Jan Patocka's political philosophy and the future of dissidence

Wednesday, October 15
1:00 p.m.
Boston Room, Corcoran Commons, Boston College

With BC Professor of Philosophy and International Studies, Aspen Brinton.  Part of the Center's Works in Progress Colloquium Series this fall.  A 30 minute presentation followed by discussion between the speaker and the attendees.

Prof. Brinton's paper is part of a larger project to examine philosophical and political thinkers who might help us understand wider possibilities for how dissidence in contemporary societies can be theorized. Jan Patocka offers several relevant questions for this project. Beginning with his own biography as an intellectual in communist Czechoslovakia, Patocka offers us an example of how to think about the historical circumstances of philosophizing, including what it means to write in contexts of censorship. Patocka’s philosophical work can also illuminate our thinking about dangerous contexts of dissidence, where life is at risk, including what he calls “solidarity of the shaken.” Through this term he explores how the human situation might be one of a potential shipwreck, where the Platonic concept of “care of the soul” becomes a political endeavor to create community within catastrophe. To discuss his ideas of ‘solidarity of the shaken’ and ‘care of the soul,’ it is also necessary to reference the roots of Patocka’s thinking in phenomenology and existentialism. This will mean implicitly asking whether there might be such a thing as ‘Platonic existentialism’ within certain ideas about dissidence, and how such a paradox might sustain hope in contexts of hopelessness.

Carolyn Forché

A Poet's Journey from El Salvador to 2014: Witness in the Light of Conscience

Wednesday, November 19
7:00 pm
Heights Room, Corcoran Commons, Boston College

With Prof. Carolyn Forché of Georgetown University. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the slayings of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter at the University of Central America (UCA) in El Salvador. 

To learn more about the martyrs of the UCA, see this section of the Ignatian Advocacy Network's site.

Co-sponsored by the Ignacio Martín-Baró Fund for Mental Health and Human Rights, the Jesuit Institute at Boston College, the English Department, and the Latin American Studies program.

About the presenter:

Poet, teacher and activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. The Country between Us was named the 1981 Lamont Poetry Selection and became that most-rare publication: a poetry bestseller. Some of its poems respond to the crisis in El Salvador.  Calling for a new poetry invested in the “social,” Forché’s anthology Against Forgetting presented poets who had written under extreme conditions, including war, exile, and imprisonment. Katha Pollitt remarked that “at their best, Forché’s poems have the immediacy of war correspondence, postcards from the volcano of twentieth-century barbarism.” In 2013 she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, joining the ranks of such acclaimed authors as Robert Frost and e.e. cummings.  She is also working on a memoir, In Another Country, in Another Time, about her years in El Salvador just before the country became fully engulfed in its 12-year civil war.  “I spent some significant time in El Salvador in the late 1970s and finally left in March 1980, one week before the Archbishop [Óscar Romero] was assassinated,” she says.

At the time, Forché was a Guggenheim Fellow translating the works of Central American poet Claribel Alegría. While the latter poet was in exile in Spain for her political writings, Alegría’s relatives invited Forché to El Salvador.

“I became involved in documenting human rights conditions,” she recalls. “It was a period in which the death squads were very active. So there were many harrowing experiences.”

She is Lannan Professor of Poetry, Professor of English, and the Director of the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice at Georgetown University.