Streitraum 2018/19: »Identity and Representation«

Today, when we talk about identity, it is not always clear what this refers to: cultural, religious or social groups? Gender, ethnic background or nationality? Which ambivalent identities can help us understand social formations today? Which attributions and projections make the affiliation to a certain social or religious group or way of life more difficult, and which make it easier? Which images and ideas are instrumental to stigmatisation? Why are class divisions held to be so taboo it is as though they do not exist: social exclusion or distinction which is passed down from generation to generation? What does it take for democratic societies to again become more open, hybrid and pluralistic? What is the relationship between identity and representation? Parliamentary and political representations are coming under increasing criticism, but the forms that media and artistic representations take also need to be scrutinised. Which images, which narratives are quoted and repeated, which are suppressed and forgotten? How are stereotypes created which reinforce notions of »authentic« and »fake«, of »us« and »the other«? How liberally, critically or maliciously can people or groups be portrayed or caricatured? Which criteria apply to art, music, film and the theatre?

Since the season 2004/05, the monthly series »Streitraum« is curated and moderated by publicist Carolin Emcke at the Schaubühne.

Streitraum 2017/18: »Knowledge and Power«

For a long time it was an accepted truism that whoever possesses knowledge and education also possesses power and status. Conversely, access to knowledge and education was held to be a form of redistribution and a way out of powerlessness. »Streitraum« 2017/18 wants to investigate what remains of these assumptions today. For, obviously, very different confi gurations also apply: with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump it would appear that ignorance (or even downright lying) is astonishingly powerful. The explicit anti-intellectualism of various populist movements pursues a systematic attack on institutions of knowledge transfer such as universities, cultural foundations and the theatre. In a time when digital media facilitate access to knowledge faster and broader than ever before, they are only one of the areas of confl ict where knowledge and ignorance, as well as power and powerlessness, are being negotiated. How unequal or unfair is the distribution of knowledge? What are the root causes of the lack of social mobility in a society? How do radical political movements and networks, but also authoritarian, chauvinistic regimes, succeed so powerfully in propagating and orchestrating their ideologies and crimes? Which technological and aesthetic counter-strategies can be utilised against the dissemination of lies, defamation and hate? Are violent confl icts increasingly shifting into the sphere of cyber-warfare? And what does that mean for the ability to criticise them? In the 2017/18 season »Streitraum« wants to place these very different phenomena in the spotlight: the social issue of inequality as well as questions about authoritarian regimes and the »invisibles« in society – and the types of power arrangements they create.

Streitraum 2016/17: »Unlimited unbounded – or: why do we need borders?«

Which forms of necessary and unnecessary borders do we have and need? Borders both exclude and confine, sometimes they protect, sometimes they imprison. Borders can be soft or hard. There are emotional and territorial borders, limits of tolerance and boundaries of shame. During the last two years seemingly firm lines have been crossed and open borders closed again. The 2016/17 season’s »Streitraum« discussion series seeks to address these different forms: which curbs on tolerance does an open society require? And what are the necessary limitations on »people should be allowed to say that«? On what sort of agreements are notions of distinctions between genders based? And between religions?

Streitraum 2015/16: Tolerated Injustice?

How much inequality, how much injustice can a society actually endure? Have we now become so inured that we accept injustice as having – in Angela Merkel’s words – »no alternative«? How has it come about that the hardships and desires of the disadvantaged – the demands and protests of women or Muslims or the elderly – are now only raised by these people themselves and rarely succeed in mobilising those who are not directly affected? Is fatigue the reason for our willingness to tolerate economic inequality to an ever-growing extent? Or is it fear? Which strategies, which visions are required for the project of building a fair society? What significance does education have in this, what roles can theatre, film and literature play in generating images and narratives of equality and justice?

Streitraum 2014/15: In Search of Democracy – or the Public Sphere and Mistrust

What is the current state of democracy? Has it become, as American theorist Wendy Brown believes, an empty term to which everyone stakes a claim but which no one any longer knows how to fill with legitimate practices and convictions? Has it lost its place in times during which the nation state appears to have grown increasingly irrelevant as a political agent? In times during which private corporations and quasi-governmental secret services can establish apparently extrajudicial regimes undisturbed: how and where can political legitimacy be generated? At the same time, a structural change of the public sphere is transforming the traditional media landscape: discourses about democratic selfdetermination are increasingly relocating to online social networks and, in doing so, are subject to different requirements and opportunities of privacy and being in the public domain, of vulnerability and self-empowerment. In this twofold crisis of representation, in which both the institutions of democracy and of the media are being brought into question, where is the place in which our political, social and aesthetic needs, desires and rights can be negotiated and claimed?

Streitraum 2013/14: Politics of Emotions

The politics of emotions is currently a hot topic in various debates. On the one hand, writers like the sociologist Eva Illouz interrogate the logic and formation of emotions in capitalism. How much is our understanding of love and happiness shaped by consumerism and the current structures of earning a living? How much are our views on relation- ships, masculinity, femininity and sexuality informed by media images from advertisements and films? In the discourse on the financial crisis, politicians and theorists, filmmakers and writers operate with an emotional vocabulary. It appears to have become a rhetorical commonplace that it is all about »greed«. The received wisdom that the uncertainties in the analysis of the causes and consequences of the crisis provoke deep »anxieties« is another discursive place-filler. And then there are all those questions posed by philosophers like Martha Nussbaum: which role do emotions play in a democracy? Do they simply jeopardise democratic cohesion? What is the relationship between justice and emotions? Between freedom and emotions?

Streitraum 2012/13: Post-democracy – is democracy at an end or just encrustation that has paralysed it?

Since Colin Crouch’s thesis on post-democracy, debate simmers over the loss of legitimacy for classical, representative democracy. Is society re-politicising itself or is democracy only made up of the shells of its former institutions? We are currently living through a double crisis – one of the dissolution of parliamentary democracy, the other, the dissolution of the media, which should ideally be present to accompany and critically challenge the dissolution! If this is the case, Streitraum must pose the question: By what other means of expression can social movements and previously excluded milieus articulate themselves? And what role does theatre, film and social media play? Streitraum 2012/13, a series of talks and debates, will systematically and philosophically pose questions, as always, enriched by the input of artists and filmmakers.

Streitraum 2011/12: Fear Eats the Soul

Fear dominates our thinking and our politics. Fear of nuclear catastrophes, of the unknown, of losing one’s place in society. How rational are such fears? Which fears do we need? And what role in avoiding the hysterical, subversive power of fear does art play? During the 2011/12 season, the Schaubühne’s Streitraum will hold debates with artists, scientists and politicians.

Use of title with friendly permission of the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation (RWFF).