December 9, 2021

CRITIQUE Seminar Urban Commons and the Feminization of Power: Ada Colau and the Politics of Documentary-Making – 26 January 2022, 3 pm

Virtual seminar with Camil Ungureanu (Pompeu Fabra). To receive the link to the event, please sign up on Eventbrite.

In this talk, I reflect on the intersection between urban commons, feminism and documentary art as truth-telling by focusing on Alcaldessa (Mayoress, dir. Pau Faus, 2016), the most relevant documentary of the long-term collaboration between the film-maker Pau Faus and Ada Colau, mayor of Barcelona and “reluctant leader” of Barcelona in Common. My argument is critical of reductionist interpretations which, from the perspective of celebrity studies and global mass media, portray Alcaldessa as a personalist post-feminist documentary focused on “biography rather than policy” (Loxhaum 2016: 12). In contrast, by combining political theory and visual and discourse analysis, I argue that Alcaldessa provides a unique look into the laboratory of a lived new politics in Barcelona at the confluence of urban commons, feminism, and democratic populism. Taking my cue from Judith Butler’s work (1990; 1997a; 2015), I maintain that the protagonist of Alcaldessa, Ada Colau, is portrayed as a reluctant leader and vulnerable subject who partakes in a dynamic web of communicative-affective relations constitutive of the community and the common people. Alcaldessa is premised on a populist “feministization” (Dean & Maiguashca 2018) and commoning (Subirats 2016) of politics centered on vulnerable subjectivities and precarity, affective communitation, listening, and popular participation; in this vision, the people are not imagined on the model of a strong (male) individual writ large but as a precarious multitude and plurality capable of action (Arendt 1998).

Camil Ungureanu is Serra Húnter Associate Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of Pompeu Fabra. His work is located in contemporary political philosophy. In particular, he has published on religion, law, and politics; Critical Theory; and art, politics, and philosophy, with a focus on contemporary cinema and literature. He is currently working on two books: Houellebecq´s Religious Fictions: Between Nihilism, Conversion and Parody and Critical Theory and Religion.