»Sexual Endowments«
J. Reid Miller (Haverford College)

May 22, 2024, 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Einstein Research Group »Reorganizing Ourselves«, Freie Universität Berlin

Raum L 116
Otto-von-Simson-Straße 26
Berlin 14195

This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


University of California, Berkeley
Freie Universität Berlin

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»In this talk I explore the concept of inheritance through the sexual as a form of relay. From one angle, sexuality refers to irreducibly personal, goal-oriented drives and pleasures unique to and defining of individuality. From another, however, sexuality appears as a lineage that precedes and extends beyond the individual, conferring endowments as various as race, health, comportment, and conduct. Within this legacy, the individual functions as a conduit or, in Freud's words, a ›mortal vehicle‹ of sexuality. As an ›appendage‹ of the sexual, Freud proposes, the individual is ›like the inheritor of an entailed property who is only the temporary holder of an estate which survives him.‹ In this respect, sexuality and its related endowments are inheritances that ›inhabit‹ us, as Bourdieu suggests, rather than traits we discover or learn. My aim is not to proliferate commentary on the sexual but to foreground the paradoxical yet plausible logic by which beings inherit their individuality.«

J. Reid Miller is Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Literature at Haverford College. He is the author of Stain Removal: Ethics and Race (Oxford UP, 2016) as well as essays on ethics, language, cinema, and race in publications such as Diacritics, Critical Inquiry and Philosophy and Social Criticism. As part of his current project exploring the logic of inheritance he co-produced and co-wrote the award-winning documentary film 80 Years Later (2022) on Japanese American racial inheritance and published the symposium piece »What Would a Philosophy of Inheritance Look Like?« in the Journal of World Philosophies (2023). He has been Associate Editor at the journal GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies since 2021 and has held Visiting Scholar positions at Stanford University and UC Berkeley.

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