Traditionally understood as the philosophical study of being, ontology, especially as it has been taken up in more recent critical theory, has tended to privilege notions of existence, presence, and affirmation. What is lost, repressed, or forgotten in ontological frameworks that, in so far as they do address nonbeing, understand it to be the negation of a being that is supposedly always primary?

This workshop will address the potential and limits of the ‘ontological turn’ for queer studies, a field long concerned with what is excluded or negated in systems of relation. In their introduction to the recent issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, ‘The Ontology of the Couple’, S. Pearl Brilmyer, Filippo Trentin, and Zairong Xiang chase after a ‘zero’ that, they argue, must always be eliminated or dialectically synthesized in order for ‘two to become one’.

Drawing on early psychoanalytic theory, Daoist cosmology, and critical race studies, they work to reconfigure a series of binaries that have divided the field of queer studies over the past few decades: normativity versus antinormativity, future versus no-future, negativity versus optimism, relationality versus antirelationality, West versus non-West. Proceeding from a reading of this introduction, this workshop will ask whether ‘queer’ stands always at the threshold of ontology, a (non)ontological leftover that allows being, life, and relationality to cohere.


16:00 Introduction

16:10 – 17:10 Part I

17:10 – 17:30 Coffee break

17:30 – 18:30 Part II

In English

S. Pearl Brilmyer
Greta LaFleur
Filippo Trentin
Zairong Xiang

Organized by

S. Pearl Brilmyer, Filippo Trentin, and Zairong Xiang

The event, like all events at the ICI Berlin, is open to the public, free of charge. The audience is presumed to consent to a possible recording on the part of the ICI Berlin. If you would like to attend the event yet might require assistance, please contact Event Management.

KV What Queer Theory Knows About Numbers

The workshop requires prior registration by 16 June 2019. The introduction to the GLQ issue will be distributed in advance in order to promote an active engagement in the discussion. Only a few spaces are available and those who are interested in joining should enclose a brief CV and a few lines explaining their interest in the workshop.