Events | "Dealing with Disenchantment: Aesthetic Enlightenment & the Art of Decolonization" - Panel Discussion with Nikita Dhawan & María do Mar Castro Varela

Goethe-Institut Chicago | September 28, 2023 | 4:00 PM (PDT)

As part of their 2023 Thomas Mann Fellowships, political science scholars Nikita Dhawan and María do Mar Castro Varela will visit the east coast for several lectures and discussions with partners in the U.S. At the Goethe-Institut Chicago they will address the role of an aesthetic education in the pursuit of postimperial global ethics and politics.

The heated debate around documenta fifteen in Kassel, 2022, brought to the fore questions about the function and value of aesthetics. Given that art is deeply entrenched within structures of capitalism and neo-colonialism, the political, social and economic role of art, artistic practices, and art institutions in current conditions of global inequality remains ambivalent and controversial. How do we synchronize in a globalized world the opposing and equally legitimate claims of conflicting memories? Might critical artistic practices facilitate transnational justice and democracy, protecting and promoting human rights? Can art make us political and ethical by provoking us out of our indifference and irresponsibility? Or to the contrary – should art be autonomous and non-purposive and not be placed in the service of political and ethical imperatives? Can the political labor of training the imagination mitigate imperialist, antisemitic, neo-colonist, racist, orientalist and heteronormative structures and practices?


María do Mar Castro Varela studied psychology and pedagogy at the University of Cologne and earned her doctorate in political science at the Justus Liebig University Giessen. She is a professor of general education and social work with a focus on gender and queer at the Alice Salomon University of Applied Science in Berlin. Her research focus on social justice, digital hate and conspiracy theories, and issues of emancipation.


Nikita Dhawan studied German Studies, Philosophy und Gender Studies at Mumbai University and Ruhr-University Bochum. She holds the Chair in Political Theory and History of Ideas at the Technical University Dresden. Her research and teaching focuses on global justice, human rights, democracy and decolonization.

Attendance Information

Attendance to this event is free and open to the public.



6:00 PM - 8:00 PM (CDT)


Goethe-Institut Chicago

150 Michigan Ave,

Suite 200

Chicago, IL 60601


An event in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Chicago.

Goethe Institut

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