Presentation on postcapitalism and critical aesthetics at NNMHR in April 2023 (Online, admission FREE)

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Anna Rajala presents her research on the concept of critical aesthetics and postcapitalist politics at the Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research congress in April 2023.

The Northern Network for Medical Humanities Research (NNMHR) holds its 5th annual congress on the 19-21 April 2023. The congress is held completely online and it is free of charge. More information of NNMHR and the event on the NNMHR webpage. Follow for updates on the opening of the event registration.

Anna Rajala’s paper titled “Medical Humanities and the Postcapitalist Politics of Aesthetic Experience” interrogates the ‘critical’ in the critical medical humanities in conversation with Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, and feminist literature on postcapitalist political economies, including the seminal works of J.K Gibson-Graham and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing. Focusing on the idea of ‘critical aesthetic experience’, she argues that the role of the critic in medical humanities is not to proceed with instrumental motives, as if using humanities or judging artistic objects and medical contexts from the outside or above. Rather, it is art that judges critics by forcing them into a reflection that transforms their very conceptions of themselves. This profoundly affects the ways in which they engage with the humanities and medical contexts, and it makes critical medical humanities profoundly political. Both Benjamin and Adorno have argued against an instrumentalising or ‘economic’ conception of the critic who judges between good and bad art, beautiful and ugly, or aesthetic and nonaesthetic. Instead, aesthetic experience is a mode of knowledge in which the critic enters the works of art and activates art’s own subjectivity, which allows for building knowledge of the self and society that can hardly be built anywhere else. Through critical aesthetic experience, the arts and humanities offer a mode of knowing that challenges instrumentality and offers forms of resistance and ‘postcapitalist’ sites of refuge that undermine the understanding of global capitalism as a homogenous monolith.

The paper will be in a panel titled “Capitalism and Health” and it will be held on Wednesday April 19, 2023 at 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM (Finnish time). Other speakers on the panel include Dr Diletta De Cristofaro (Northumbria University), Mu-Jeong Kho (UCL), and Evan Sedgwick-Jell (Birkbeck, University of London).