#rp17 Speaker: Carolin Emcke

We are very happy to announce that journalist and author Carolin Emcke will be returning to speak at the  #rp17. After her lecture on the “patterns of hate” at #rpTEN, the current recipient of the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is focusing this year’s talk on positive emotions. True to the “Love out Loud” motto, she will be reflecting on love and empathy in the political and social context.

As a war correspondent, Carolin Emcke spent a lot of time focusing on parts of the world which have been afflicted by violence and suffering. She visited and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kosovo, Iraq and Colombia, among others. Through her compassionate reporting style she considers the question of what violence does to humans and how it transforms them. Emcke’s astute essays and commentaries discuss the fundamental philosophical questions of our society. She develops the concept of art as the antidote to dangerous patterns of thought and demands that we pay more attention to the depiction of a multicultural society – the bottom line being: whatever is reproduced in popular culture is recognized as normal. 

Her speeches, articles and books have already garnered her various prizes – in the laudation for the 2016 Peace Prize, the jury outlined specifically what defines her work. Emcke makes an important contribution to the societal dialogue: “She pays special attention to those moments, situations and topics in which conversation is under threat of breaking down or maybe even doesn’t seem possible anymore”, the Association of the German Book Trade stated in their decision. In many ways, the year 2017 seems to represent just such a watershed moment.

The journalist and political commentator makes a point of not avoiding distressing or disturbing scenes: civil wars, refugee camps or hospitals. Through her insightful observations, Carolin Emcke has the “capacity to lay out the truth and tell its story in such a way as to break through the veil of silence which surrounds violence, cruelty and torture“, said laudatory speaker Seyla Benhabib at the presentation of the Peache Prize.   

In powerfully articulate contemporary analyses, the doctor of philosophy examines and confronts globalization, theories of violence, testimony, photography, as well as cultural identity. It is precisely because of the complicated, intricate nature of the current conditions that precision takes on the role of the ideal instrument against the blunt and the coarse. Carolin Emcke once stated: “I want writing to be an effort. I want it to be hard work. In long-term observations, I appreciate how points of view can change and how learning can become part of the story.” History is the same as the present, in that we can't choose it. It has chosen us. Her writing deals with the epistemic, emotional or ideological barriers to compassion and empathy.

Emcke’s recent publications include “Mute Force – Reflections on the Red Army Faction” (2008), “How we desire” a discussion of human freedoms and desires (2012), and “Weil es sagbar ist – Zeugenschaft und Gerechtigkeit” (“Because it is Expressible – On Testimony and Justice”, 2013). Her last publication, the essay “Against Hatred” (2016), squares off with the larger challenges of our time: racism, fanaticism, anti-democratic currents in politics and a possible approach for dealing with hatred in society. Not least, it is a call for societal plurality and empathy. Emcke’s work illustrates clearly just how close love and hate quite often are.

The politics of emotions was also the focus of the "Streitraum“ (Conflict Space) discussion series at the Berlin Schaubühne during its 2013/14 season, a series which Carolin Emcke has moderated and curated since 2004. There, she discusses controversial social issues with scientists, researchers, authors, artists, politicians and other figures.

We look forward to Carolin Emcke’s powerful eloquence which we know will stimulate many a discussion at the  #rp17, both on and off stage.


Image Credit: ©Andreas Labes