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A Topography of Contemporary Fear
Rohit Goel discusses the significance of Robert Meister's magisterial After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights (Columbia, 2010) for a post-Cold War aesthetics, politics, ethics, and realism, especially in the time of pandemic. Moving between art history, architecture, psychoanalysis, jurisprudence, philosophy, and theology, Rohit reads Meister's global analysis of our contemporary - a time and space stuck between a past deemed evil and a just future that is yet to come.
What does it mean to exist in a 'time that remains' between past and future, a present place/time in which evil is declared over just justice has yet to arrive? What effect does this 'transitional' topography of the contemporary have on creativity, thought, and action?
With the Lebanese artist and writer Walid Sadek, in 2011, Rohit sustained a year-long reading group on Meister's singular book in Beirut's south suburbs, with artists, architects, writers, critics, political philosophers, theologians, advocates, and activists. He subsequently taught courses on the book After Evil alone, at times with Robert Meister, thrice at the University of Chicago, once at Sciences Po Paris, and once at Jnanapravaha Mumbai. For the first time in years, Rohit will be teaching Meister's book in BICAR's course, After Evil.