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W.E.B. Du Bois  lecture with Samira Spatzek

On June 7, 2022, Samira Spatzek will discuss her forthcoming book Unruly Narrative: On Private Property and Self-Making at the W.E.B. Du Bois  lecture

In this talk, Samira Spatzek will discuss her forthcoming book Unruly Narrative: On Private Property and Self-Making. In it, she examines the intricate connections between modern Western self-making and liberal ideas of private property, offering an intervention into questions of the white liberal human. Understood here to be intimately bound by the formations of European liberalism, Atlantic slavery, and settler-colonial expansion in the New World, the talk will consider the importance of narrative for the liberal subject and argue that notions of self-ownership and the ability to own others are fundamental to the liberal subject’s coming-into-being.

Spatzek traces private property’s positioning and formative powers as she turns to Toni Morrison’s historical novel A Mercy (2008). She will closely examine its representation of colonial North America for the ways its scrutinize scomplex entanglements between power, race, and subjectivity that are so fundamental to US society till this day. Ultimately, Spatzek’s reading of A Mercy positions the novel as a key literary text that generates a fundamental philosophical and political critique of the connections between self-making and private property—a critique that refuses the Human grammar of being that Atlantic slavery induced.

Please note that it is mandatory to wear an FFP2-mask inside the building and during the event.


Samira Spatzek (Freie Universität Berlin)
“Unruly Narrative, or, On How Private Property Claimed Freedom and Being”

Tuesday, June 7, 2022
6.30 – 8.00 P.M. (CET)

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Dorotheenstr. 24

Room 1.501

Further Informations

Event website