Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Practical Philosophy, Social Philosophy & Center for Human Studies and Social Change - Rahel Jaeggi

Events 2022


17 February 2022 Critical Theory in Context:

Convergence Of Social Struggles

Online Discussion with Amna Akbar, Silke van Dyk, Manon Garcia und Romin Khan
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Link to online-event:


“In order to preserve or even expand the welfare state, migration must be stopped.” Claims like these accompanied the turn of former leftists to the racist and even völkisch far-right camp in the last decade. Underlying such considerations is a view of society in which the misery of some can only be eliminated, or even alleviated, by exacerbating the misery of others. The counter-thesis is that democratic co-determination—especially in the economic sphere—can only be expanded if co-determination means explicitly standing up for migration and against racism in an internationalist way. This thesis is based on an image of society in which forms of oppression, exploitation and domination are interconnected, so that the struggle against one of these forms must strive to overcome all forms of oppression, exploitation, and domination. Between both theses lies a third option: the search for a central origin of the relations of exploitation, oppression and domination in society. Only those who stab into the heart of the beast—so they claim—can prevent the heads of the Hydra from multiplying endlessly. The concern here is not only that emancipatory movements will become increasingly distracted by the struggle against myriad social injustices. The concern is also that emancipation is degenerating into a variant of radical liberalism, in which all forms of life have the same right to exist as long as they do not break out of the framework that neoliberal diversity management dictates. With our guests, we want to talk about the pros and cons for one or the other option considering practical social conflicts: What actual experiences indicate that social struggles have a common direction? And what dynamics prevent such a convergence?


Silke van Dyk is professor for political sociology at the Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena. Her research focuses on the welfare state, demographics, social critique, and discourse analysis.  Her recent book “Community Kapitalismus” explores the relation of unpaid labour and capitalism.

Romin Khan is senior advisor for antiracism and the politics of migration at the trade union “verdi”. He is a deputy chairman of the association “Mach’ meinen Kumpel nicht an!” (Don’t harass my college!) which fights against racism. Khan holds a degree in political science, sociology, and history.

Manon Garcia is an assistant professor for philosophy at Yale University. She works on moral and political feminist philosophy, critical theory, and the philosophy of the social sciences. Last year, she published “We Are Not Born Submissive. How Patriarchy Shapes Women’s Lives”.

Amna Akbar is an associate professor for law at The Ohio State University. She works on the relation between criminal law, the punitive state and policing. She is interested in the cooperation between researchers and social movements and teaches on the theory and practice of social change. Amna Akbar is a member of the board of the “Clinical Law Review”.

28 January 2022, Critical Theory In Context Podcast

PODCAST 3 – Welche Gesellschaftstheorie braucht eine Kritische Theorie heute?

Episode 3
Christian Schmidt im Gespräch mit Dirk Quadflieg, Kolja Möller und Titus Stahl. Einleitung von Rahel Jaeggi.


Die Folge bietet Einblicke in die Diskussionen eines internen Workshops zu der Frage: „Welche Gesellschaftstheorie braucht eine Kritische Theorie heute?“, der im Dezember 2021 stattfand. Christian Schmidt spricht mit Dirk Quadflieg, Kolja Möller und Titus Stahl, um einige der vorgestellten Thesen zu diskutieren und zu vertiefen. Rahel Jaeggi präsentiert vorab die einleitenden Thesen, die zur Vorbereitung des Workshops im Center entwickelt wurden.


14., 15. und 16. Juni 2022

Walter Benjamin Lectures 2022 mit Nancy Fraser

Time: 6:00 pm - 8:00pm, Place: Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin



Three Faces of Capitalist Labor: Uncovering the Hidden Ties among Gender Race and Class.

Nancy Fraser’s 2022 Benjamin lectures are inspired by a striking claim made by W.E.B. Du Bois in his 1935 masterpiece, Black Reconstruction. Characterizing abolition as a labor movement, Du Bois held that US history would have been fundamentally altered had the anti-slavery forces been united with movements of free white wage workers. For Du Bois, the failure of these “two labor movements” to recognize one another squandered the chance to build a labor democracy and set the United States on the road to plutocracy. Fraser’s lectures extend Du Bois’s idea to the present and to the rest of the world. Given the persistence of dependent and expropriated labor, she asks: Can the anti-racist and anti-imperialist struggles of our era be usefully viewed as unrecognized labor struggles? And if so, why stop there? Can we view feminist movements, too, as unacknowledged struggles over work in systems built on a gendered separation of paid “productive labor” from unpaid carework? Elaborating these hypotheses, Fraser argues that capitalist societies rely on three analytically distinct but mutually imbricated forms of labor: exploited, expropriated, and domesticated. She further argues that the historically shifting relations among these three faces of labor constitute the hidden ties among gender, race, and class. Disclosing those hidden ties, finally, Fraser considers the relations among, not two, but three labor movements and evaluates the prospects for uniting them.
3. - 8. July 2022




Needs are central to many social controversies, but widely regarded as non-negotiable. The latter is due to the nature-like quality of many needs, but also to the assumption that the needs, interests and desires of individuals are simply given. Critical theory offers an alternative approach that seeks to analyse the formation of needs, thus turning them into objects of critical analysis and debate. In the Summer School, we will reconstruct this approach and discuss its current relevance by confronting it with prominent positions in the contemporary philosophical debate on needs.

The Summer School will involve plenary lectures and discussions, reading sessions, small group discussions and panel debates. Only the panel debates will be open to the broader public. We will explore classical approaches such as Marx on the production of needs, Theodor Adorno’s »Theses on Needs«, and Herbert Marcuse’s analysis of false needs while also engaging with the work of leading contemporary theorists: Maeve Cooke, Nancy Fraser, Lawrence Hamilton, Sarah Clark Miller, and Frank Nullmeier will participate and discuss their work.

Call for Application Download: CfA_SummerSchool_Berlin_2022

To apply for participation, graduate students and junior scholars are invited to submit a précis of their take on core issues in the debate on needs and a CV (each document 1 page max.). The précis should show which particular background knowledge and systematic positions the applicants would contribute to our joint discussions. Please submit your application in a single PDF document and make sure that the title of your precis summarizes its content.

Deadline for applications: March 9th, 2022

by e-mail to:

We aim to have the Summer School take place in attendance. However, if an in-person event in Berlin is not feasible this July, we will switch to an online-only format. NB: Participating online will not be possible if the Summer School takes place in person as planned.

Participation in the Summer School is free of charge. There are some travel funds available for international students without access to institutional reimbursement; those who qualify may apply for travel and accommodation subsidies.

Please check our FAQs for further information:



Maeve Cooke (University College Dublin)

Lawrence Hamilton (University of the Witwatersrand,
University of Cambridge)

Sarah Clark Miller (Pennsylvania State University)

Frank Nullmeier (Universität Bremen)


Robin Celikates (Freie Universität Berlin)

Rahel Jaeggi (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

Christian Schmidt (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)


Organizers: Robin Celikates, Rahel Jaeggi, Susann Schmeißer, Christian Schmidt (Humanities and Social Change Center Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), in cooperation with the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research and the New School for Social Research.