Interview with Katerina Kolozova
© Katerina Kolozova and Figure/Ground
Dr. Kolozova was interviewed by Liam Jones. April 22nd, 2013.
Katerina Kolozova is Director and senior researcher at the Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities – Skopje. (www.isshs.edu.mk) Professor of philosophy, gender studies and sociological theory at the University American College-Skopje. Visiting professor of reality studies and global media and culture and the Faculty of Media and Communication-Belgrade. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and besides in her home institution, she also teaches at several universities in Former Yugoslavia and Bulgaria (Universities of Skopje, Sarajevo, Belgrade and Sofia). During 2008-2009, Katerina Kolozova was a visiting scholar at the Department of Rhetoric-Program of Critical Theory at the University of California-Berkeley. She is the author of “The Lived Revolution: Solidarity with the Body in Pain as the New Political Universal” (2010; in English), “The Real and ‘I’: On the Limit and the Self” (2006; in English), “Conversations with Judith Butler: The Crisis of the Subject” with Judith Butler and Zarko Trajanovski (2002 in English and in Macedonian), “The Death and the Greeks: On Tragic Concepts of Death from Antiquity to Modernity” (2000 in Macedonian), and editor of a number of books from the fields of gender studies and feminist theory, among which the latest co-edited together with Svetlana Slapshak and Jelisaveta Blagojevic “Gender and Identity: Theories from/on Southeastern Europe,” Belgrade: Belgrade Women’s Studies and Gender Research Center and Athena Network, 2006 (in English). She is also Editor in Chief of the Journal in Politics, Gender and Culture “Identities,” member of the Non-Philosophical Society (ONPHI), of AOIFE and the European Network for Gender and Women’s Studies -ATHENA (now AtGender).
How did you decide to become a University Professor?
As a student, what I wanted to do (then and also after I graduate) was simply to be a scholar, someone dedicated to the study of philosophy, languages and linguistics, psychoanalysis and religion. I did not have precise plans in terms of career as how to fulfil this desire, but it went without saying that I needed to find a job in the academia in order to be able to make my attempts of scholarship visible. I detested the fact that in order for a work of scholarship to receive any form of legitimization it had to be “professionalized” and be the product of a university teacher or a researcher holding a post in an academic institution. Notwithstanding, I knew I had to become an academic in order to make sure my work “counted” in the sense that it could receive some voice and visibility. Namely, access to scholarships, to good libraries, to interaction with scholars who matter to you, i.e., the right to work under somebody’s supervision were all “privileges” (not simply rights) conditioned by being part of a higher education institution, either as a student or as a professor. This meant I had to pursue a career of a university professor. However, in my youth, I did not see myself as a future university teacher, but rather as a researcher and a writer. And I wished I could work as an independent scholar rather than as an affiliate of a higher education institution.
Who has been the biggest influence or mentor in your work or career?
I have been lucky to get to know and work, formally or informally, with those who had been the greatest influences in my life and work. At the age of 26 I became a Ph.D. student of Jean Pierre Vernant (as my thesis supervisor) who was and still is one of my biggest influences in the field of the studies of Greek antiquity and, in particular, tragedy and philosophy. This was my second Ph.D. which was part of a program established between ISH-Ljubljana and EHESS-Paris (Centre Louis Gernet). I never finished this second Ph.D. (it was formally transformed in a “doctoral research program” I carried out as a visiting scholar to EHESS-CLG and College de France). What matters is that I had the privilege to work under the supervision of Jean Pierre Vernant. My second supervisor of the same thesis was Svetlana Slapsak of ISH-Ljubljana, who has been one of my mentors in the areas of gender studies and Balkan studies. In 2009, I did a post-doc under the supervision of Judith Butler at UC-Berkley, who has been one of the biggest philosophical influences in my work and one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. Finally, and for more than ten years now, François Laruelle has been my mentor, a friend and an intellectual and ethical role model. His mentorship has always been “passive.” In other words, he has made himself available to me in terms of exchanging ideas and providing support without the pretension to teach me.
What effect has the information age and technology had on the university and on pedagogy?
I started my career in the “information age” and I can conceive it only as such. I also conducted my graduate research in the late 90’, which implied use of internet. I suppose the age of information can democratize knowledge radically, and create spaces and forms of intellectual authority which do not have to be necessarily higher education institutions. This potentiality is far from being actualized.
What is the status of disciplines today? What are the strengths and/or weaknesses of interdisciplinary studies?
I firmly believe in interdisciplinarity. Or rather: I do not believe in disciplinary specialisations. I think an academic discipline is to a great extent a political-economic product of the academic institutions and that strict boundaries are imposed for institutional reasons.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a close reading of Marx’s texts trying to expand the idea of radicalization of concepts one finds in some of Francois Laruelle’s works.
In The Real and I you use the work of Francois Laruelle as a starting point to produce a work that touches on politics and feminist theory. Can you explain why Laruelle is important to you?
Laruelle provides me with conceptual or methodological possibilities of producing theoretical work without adherence to any philosophical legacy in particular, and to do so without being arbitrary or voluntaristic. His non-standard philosophy enables one to take recourse to conceptual material derived from philosophy without the endorsement of the explanatory frame a philosophical school or authority creates for the concepts produced within it. Non-philosophy offers methods to rigorously think realities and discuss philosophical ideas. The methods at issue are similar to those of science by virtue of being “transcendentally impoverished” and also by virtue of their succumbing to the authority of the real rather than to that of a teaching or a great philosophical figure. The non-philosophical theoretical stance has enabled me to think poststructuralist feminist philosophy in ways which are heretical with respect to what had developed into its metaphysics (albeit in the form of anti-metaphysics): the belief in and reverent dedication to the idea of multiplicity (which precludes any relevance to the attempt to think in terms of singularity), cancelling out of the real or absolute imaginarization of reality, rejection of the possibility of any form of stability and fundamental disintegration (through de-substantiation) of the Self. With the help of the non-philosophical critical positing of thought I have been able to unravel what seemed to me radically productive in the thought of Judith Butler, Irigaray and other feminist philosophers while rejecting the interpretations dominant in poststructuralist academia or its doctrinal orthodoxy. I believe the non-philosophical posture of thought and the methodological possibilities it informs have enabled me to identify and theoretically build and expand on the potentiality for a realist reading of some of the central concepts in the works of the feminist philosophers discussed gin the book.
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Jones, L. (2013). “Interview with Katerina Kolozova,” Figure/Ground. April 22nd.
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