LECTURE | Does philosophy contribute to an invasion complex in Europe? | Nikos Papastergiadis
Monday, 29 August 2016 | 18:00

Nikos Papastergiadis

Does philosophy contribute to an invasion complex in Europe?



Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova, +MSUM,  Monday, 29 August 2016 at 6 p.m., Seminar Room


Nikos Papastergiadis will examine how the image of the refugee has been defined through the fear of the other, and how the mechanisms of detention have transformed the conditions of belonging. He will present the contemporary geopolitical forces propelling the rise of a new authoritarianism, growing border anxieties and hostility towards refugees, and argue that these emerging shifts provoke an urgent need for a new conceptual framework to understand the dynamics of contemporary global flows and concepts of belonging. He will introduce what he calls the 'invasion complex', a new conceptual hybrid that draws upon elements of psychoanalytic theory and complex systems theory, and Giorgio Agamben's analysis of sovereignty and 'the camp', to explain heightened border anxieties and the legitimization of violence towards the Other. He considers the value, applications and limitations of Agamben's analysis, and contends that both the state-centric moral debate on the refugee crisis, and Agamben's method of privileging political agency in terms of sovereign power, tend to discount the role of complexity. As an author of text on “The Invasion Complex in Australian Political Culture” he will examine how these hostile reactions are at play in Europe in a complex interplay between old phobias and new fantasies. He will conclude by urging the need to move beyond nation-state centric critiques of racism, and propose the development of a new paradigm – a potential politics that recognizes the complex dynamics of global flows, and which opens the way for a discourse of hope based on the rights of the human being, rather than the citizen.



Nikos Papastergiadis is the Director of the Research Unit in Public Cultures, based at The University of Melbourne. He is a Professor in the School of Culture and Communication at The University of Melbourne and founder - with Scott McQuire - of the Spatial Aesthetics research cluster. He is Project Leader of the Australian Research Council Linkage Project, 'Large Screens and the Transnational Public Sphere', and Chief Investigator on the ARC Discovery Project 'Public Screens and the Transformation of Public Space'. He was educated at The University of Melbourne and the University of Cambridge. Prior to joining the School of Culture and Communication, he was Deputy Director of the Australia Centre at the University of Melbourne, Head of the Centre for Ideas at the Victorian College of Arts, and lecturer in Sociology and recipient of the Simon Fellowship at the University of Manchester. Throughout his career, Nikos has provided strategic consultancies for government agencies on issues relating to cultural identity and has worked in collaborative projects with artists and theorists of international repute such as John Berger, Jimmie Durham and Sonya Boyce. His long involvement with the ground breaking international journal Third Text, as both co-editor and author, was a formative experience in the development of an interdisciplinary and cross cultural research model, which continues to inform his research practice.

His publications include Modernity as Exile (1993), Dialogues in the Diaspora (1998), The Turbulence of Migration (2000), Metaphor and Tension (2004) Spatial Aesthetics: Art Place and the Everyday (2006), Cosmopolitanism and Culture (2012). He is also the author of numerous essays, which have been translated into over a dozen languages and appeared in major catalogues such as the Biennales of Sydney, Liverpool, Istanbul, Gwangju, Taipei, Lyon, Thessaloniki and Documenta 13.


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