Aesthetics, Politics, and Attunement: On Some Questions Brought by Alterity and Ontology

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Abstract

This paper engages the current vogue for addressing the space of the political through aesthetics. It argues that the turn to aesthetics to open up the space of the political risks reproducing particular historical ontologies and metaphysical principles inherent to the concept of aesthetics. These principles interpellate creative energies, expressions, and shared social relationships into forms that are made recognisable by particular historical and European geographical inflections of political legitimacy. As a result, aesthetics and a “politics of aesthetics” actually reproduces the social and political limits it is often invoked to overcome. Instead, the paper argues for a need to decolonise the register of the aesthetic, and so assumptions about “the political”, through a more radical attention to ontologies of difference expressed as aesthesis. Drawing from previous work in the field, decolonial and indigenous critiques are mobilised to show how the category of the aesthetic reproduces fundamentally self-limiting frames. The paper proceeds by explaining the relevance of attunement to the production of the subject in Kant’s legacy for aesthetic theory. It then situates the limits of the recent attention to geo-aesthetics as also invoking metaphysical latencies. A discussion of decolonising agendas, aesthesis, and indigenous performative critiques of the politics of recognition are briefly explored as specific means to potentially re-think aesthetics as a category. The paper ends with a short reflection on the implications of the argument for the sites and geographies of “the political” and the meaning of critique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-23
Number of pages16
JournalGeoHumanities
Volume2
Issue number1
Early online date4 May 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2016

Keywords

  • Aesthetics
  • Politics
  • attunement
  • decolonization
  • ontology
  • indigeneity

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