From Aesthetics as Critique to Grammars of Listening On Reconfiguring Sensibility as a Political Task

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María del Rosario Acosta López


This paper presents an overview of my work in philosophy from my first book on Friedrich Schiller and the political sublime to my most recent project on listening to traumatic forms of violence. Starting with a reflection on the autobiographical character of philosophy, I propose to take up the question of an aesthetic dimension of philosophical critique, where aesthetics is understood as an always already embodied perspective on the world, on truth, and on philosophical activity, as well as an always already political realm, where the distribution of sense pre-determines our approach and articulation of experience. Departing from aesthetics understood and deployed as critique, the paper moves on to ask about the specific frameworks of sense or grammars that determine in advance the conditions of audibility in the realms of memory-building and history-making—particularly in those contexts where historical, political, and institutional forms of violence produce silencing and erasure. Putting in dialogue the latter with decolonial studies, I (re)interpret “traumatic violence” as a colonizing form of violence, understanding that one of its central aspects is that it is not only an assault on life but on the conditions of production of sense that make life legible as such. In this context, my project on grammars of listening seeks to carefully unpack these complex intersections while also explaining why I believe that a radical form of listening is an essential subversive/imaginative strategy against traumatic/colonial violence.    

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Acosta López, M. del R. . (2021). From Aesthetics as Critique to Grammars of Listening: On Reconfiguring Sensibility as a Political Task. Journal of World Philosophies, 6(1), 139–156. Retrieved from
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Author Biography

María del Rosario Acosta López, University of California, Riverside

María del Rosario Acosta López is Full Professor at the Department of Hispanic Studies in UC Riverside since 2019. She obtained her PhD in Philosophy in the National University in Colombia and was Associate Professor of Philosophy at Los Andes University in Bogotá before moving to the United States as Associate Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University. She conducts research on aesthetics, critical theory, political philosophy, and more recently on decolonial studies, with emphasis on questions of memory and trauma in the Americas. Acosta also conducts workshops on liberatory memory, is involved with historical memory issues, and has worked with survivors of political violence, in Colombia with communities surviving paramilitary violence, and more recently in Chicago with police torture survivors. She currently holds the International Chair of Contemporary Philosophy at University of Paris 8.

            Her most recent publications are devoted to F. Schiller’s aesthetics, aesthetics of resistance in Latin American art, decolonial perspectives on memory and history, and epistemic injustice and epistemic violence. She is currently working on the final revisions of her next book, Gramáticas de lo inaudito: pensar la memoria después del trauma (Herder, 2022), and on the final editions of two forthcoming books, one in Spanish on community in Hegel, Nancy, Esposito, and Agamben (Narrativas de la comunidad: de Hegel a los pensadores impolíticos), and one in English, The Unstoppable Murmur of Being-Together, co-authored with Jean-Luc Nancy and the Group on Law and Violence. A book on Schiller’s aesthetical-political project, provisionally titled Aesthetics as critique, is also in the works.