Situating Vulnerability

Do27Jun11:00Do21:00Situating VulnerabilityPolitics, Law, and InstitutionsVeranstaltungsartSymposium


Vulnerability has emerged as a crucial term to describe the human condition, especially in light of the pandemic. Its etymology can be traced back to the Latin term ‘vulnus’, which denoted both a ‘generic wound’ and the ‘infringement of a right’. This semantic ambiguity still persists in current interpretations of vulnerability, with some understanding it as an ontological concept (namely vulnerability as a shared human condition) and others as a political and legal category that identifies specific groups or individuals who are exposed to discrimination. While the universalistic account of the notion fails to bear witness to the unequal distribution of precarity as it affects certain lives, the particularistic approach risks reproducing and even fostering the isolation and marginality of groups and individuals identified as needing protection. In this latter approach, one fails to account both for the agency of such subjects and groups as they resist those conditions and for the systematic and structural connotations of certain forms of violence.

However, many feminist theorizations claim that vulnerability, in its embodied and relational connotation, is still a helpful tool for mapping the present since it allows one to grasp how forms of resistance emerge. Taking this perspective entails many critical questions:

What would it mean to understand vulnerability as a situated condition linked to relationality and interdependency, rather than as a state that pertains to certain subjects? How should politics, institutions, and law take care of vulnerable lives? Can vulnerability be theorized, politicized, and ‘juridified’ in a manner that takes into consideration the diverse and plural ways in which everyone is exposed to it? In what senses does this concept necessitate an understanding that is derived from situated knowledge, such that the concept does not remain a theoretical abstraction? In order to address such urgent issues, this symposium aims to foster an interdisciplinary dialogue between feminist and gender studies, political philosophy, post- and decolonial studies, critical theory, legal studies, and social sciences.

In English


11:00 Welcome Coffee

11:15 Introduction
Valentina Moro & Natascia Tosel

Bridging Feminist, Legal, and Political Studies:
New Perspectives on Vulnerability

11:45 – 13:15 Panel I
Feminist Readings

Olivia Guaraldo
‘Free Because Dependent’:
The Non-Sovereign Subject and Vulnerability as a Political Resource

Liesbeth Schoonheim
The Ambiguity of Vulnerability: A Beauvoirian Approach

Moderated by Marta Aleksandrowicz

13:15 – 15:00 Lunch Break

15:00 – 16:30 Panel II ­
Vulnerability from the Border

Dorina Damsa
The Perils of ‘Vulnerability’:
Perspectives from Border, Migration, and Refugee Studies

Sophie Nakueira
Situated Vulnerability: How Politics, Law, and Institutions Shape Refugees’ Experiences of Vulnerabilities and How They Are Resisted

Moderated by Natascia Tosel

16:30 – 17:00 Coffee Break

17:00 – 18:30 Panel III
Coloniality and Politics of Care

Daniele Lorenzini
Racial Vulnerabilization and Oppressive Nihilism

Deva Woodly
The Status of Vulnerability in a Politics of Care

Moderated by Valentina Moro

18:30 – 19:00 Break

19:00 Keynote Lecture

Estelle Ferrarese
What Can a Vulnerable Body Do?
On Power Within Powerlessness

Moderated by Anna Argirò

Organized by

Natascia Tosel (ICI Berlin) and Valentina Moro (University of Verona / DePaul University)

An ICI Event in cooperation with Università di Verona. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement N° 101029336.


Dorina Damsa
Olivia Guaraldo
Daniele Lorenzini
Sophie Nakueira
Liesbeth Schoonheim
Deva Woodly

Keynote by Estelle Ferrarese

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27. Juni 2024 11:00 - 21:00(GMT+02:00)


ICI Berlin

Christinenstr. 18-19

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ICI Berlin

Christinenstr. 18-19

ICI Berlin