Archive for January 12th, 2018

Giampiero Assumma

“The Lower World” is the title of Giampiero Assumma’s photographic long term project (2001-2014) on human alienation within the context of the last six criminal lunatic asylums in Italy, named ‘Ospedale Psichiatrico Giudiziario’ (O.P.G).

These facilities, with the exception of one pioneering institution that was purely a psychiatric hospital, showed the characteristics of penitentiary institutes. That situation represented the evidence of a long standing debate, about crimes when related to mental illness and sentences as a cure, to serve into an institution which combines both medical treatment and strict social control. In recent years a Governmental investigation, reported several cases of violation of human rights, and all the last Italian judiciary mental institutions began their final dismission from 2015 until now.

Beyond the inevitable political foreground, Giampiero Assumma’s approach is quite far from photojournalistic visuals. He offers his own constructive interpretation of mental illness, exposing the vulnerability inherent to the human condition.These images ultimately witness all those shared acts of resistance, that humans have always brought foreword to avoid being deleted from their personal history.


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Amy Allen, The End of Progress. Decolonizing the Normative Foundations of Critical Theory, Columbia University Press, 2016 (2017 paperback)

While post- and decolonial theorists have thoroughly debunked the idea of historical progress as a Eurocentric, imperialist, and neocolonialist fallacy, many of the most prominent contemporary thinkers associated with the Frankfurt School—Jürgen Habermas, Axel Honneth, and Rainer Forst—have defended ideas of progress, development, and modernity and have even made such ideas central to their normative claims. Can the Frankfurt School’s goal of radical social change survive this critique? And what would a decolonized critical theory look like?

Amy Allen fractures critical theory from within by dispensing with its progressive reading of history while retaining its notion of progress as a political imperative, so eloquently defended by Adorno. Critical theory, according to Allen, is the best resource we have for achieving emancipatory social goals. In reimagining a decolonized critical theory after the end of progress, she rescues it from oblivion and gives it a future.


Amy Allen is Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy and head of the Philosophy Department at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of The Power of Feminist Theory: Domination, Resistance, Solidarity and The Politics of Our Selves: Power, Autonomy, and Gender in Contemporary Critical Theory, and she is the editor of the Columbia University Press series New Directions in Critical Theory.

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