Desire is bound up with structural inequalities and normative violence. Even when it seeks to resist them, it keeps risking to reproduce hierarchies. While taking seriously the power analysis of desire, Engel, Govrin, and Holzhey have organized the lecture series ‘Desire’s Multiplicity and Serendipity’ in order to explore the potentials and limits of desire as a transformative force. They propose to draw on theories asserting desire’s multiplicity and to face desire’s paradoxes by calling on serendipity, allowing for fortunate errans. Starting the conversation with their different understandings of serendipity and the politics of desire in psychic, social, and structural registers, they wish to engage in a discussion with the public: What are the potentials of happenstance and erring when trying to leave the dis/comfort zone of identity and normative forms of intimacy and sexuality? How can one find openings for queer reconceptualizations of desire?

Antke Engel is an independent scholar working in the fields of queer, feminist and poststructuralist theory, political philosophy, and cultural politics. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy at Potsdam University in 2001, and since 2006 she is director of the Institute for Queer Theory (Berlin)

Jule Jakob Govrin is a Ph.D candidate in philosophy at Freie Universität Berlin and a research assistant of the Institute for Queer Theory, Berlin. In her Ph.D. project she is focusing on the epistemological entanglements of desire and economy. Her research interests include political and social philosophy, theories of desire, sexuality studies, poststructuralist philosophies.

Christoph Holzhey is the founding director of the ICI Berlin. He received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics (1993) and another one in German literature with a dissertation on the critical potential of paradoxical pleasures in aesthetics (2001).

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An ICI Berlin event, in collaboration with the Insitute for Queer Theory

The lecture is part of the Lecture Series Desire’s Multiplicity and Serendipity, a collaboration of the Institute of Queer Theory and the ICI Berlin. Desire, wandering about and forming assemblages, might be accompanied by serendipity or mate with jouissance or the power of the erotic, even as it fails to reach its presumed aim. Instead of running on a single track, we take desire to be functioning in a multiple manner. We call on desire’s serendipity to grasp its illogical, contingent modes as a figure of fortunate errans. The lecture series Desire’s Multiplicity and Serendipity looks for queer reconceptualizations of desire, its cultural articulations and lived realities. The key question is how to get from the critique of desire as a hierarchizing and normalizing force to the heterotopias of desire. What would it mean to understand or experience desire as opening up to alterity, undermining its own involvement in structural inequalities and normative violence?

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