Sara Ahmed Weston Colville

Setting the Table: Reflections on How Tables Matter

free school / lecture


Accessible for wheelchair users | English | ⧖ ±1h | Free entrance, registration required (from 3 April at 11am on this page)

In her 2006 book, Queer Phenomenology, Sara Ahmed offers an extended mediation on tables. She begins with writing tables, so often used as examples by philosophers, before turning to kitchen tables and how they support family gatherings. Throughout her work, Ahmed has provided critiques of happy tables, taking up the figure of the feminist killjoy, as the one who gets in the way of a convivial atmosphere. In this lecture, Ahmed will explore how tables matter – from writing tables to kitchen tables to conference tables. She will show how institutions make use of diversity, as a happy fable of the table, a polished table, to create the impression that everyone can participate. She considers how we learn more about institutions (including the family) when we refuse to polish the table. Sara Ahmed is an independent queer feminist scholar of colour. Her work is concerned with how power is experienced and challenged in everyday life and institutional cultures.

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