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Eric Ritter

Eric Ritter

Eric Ritter

Eric Ritter ist Postdoctoral Research Fellow an der Vanderbilt University, Nashville. In seiner Forschung beschäftigt er sich mit der Kontinentalphilosophie, Sozial- und Politischer Philosophie (besonders mit den Themen Bestrafung und Masseninhaftierung, Ethik, die Philosophie der Amerikas (besonders dem Pragmatismus) sowie mit Film und Philosophie. Er arbeitet derzeit an dem Forschungsprojekt Reconstructing Memory, Reconstructing Whiteness, in dem er sich – gestützt auf Michel Foucaults und James Baldwins Analysen zu Mythos und Geschichte – mit der Frage befasst, wie Erinnerung in verschiedenen Epochen der Geschichte "gemacht" und "neu gemacht" wird. Genauer fragt er dabei nach der Ethik der (Re-)Konstruktion des öffentlichen Gedächtnisses in demokratischen Gesellschaften wie den Vereinigten Staaten, die eine multiethnische Zukunft als Ideal vorgeben, aber eine gewalttätige, rassistische und verdrängte Vergangenheit haben. Zu seinen Veröffentlichungen gehören unter anderem "Stanley Cavell and the Everyday of Thinking" (The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, 2021), "Emerson's Abolitionist Perfectionism" (Philosophy and Social Criticism, 2021) und "The Industry of Mass Incarceration" (Critical Quarterly, 2020).

Three Quick Questions:

In a few words, can you tell us about your current research interest?

I always have a few projects going at the same time. I’ve done a lot of work with organizations working to end our addiction to mass incarceration in the United States. This work has led me to think about "ethics" historically: for example, how community-based accountability practices challenge the retributive, racialized framework of "moral responsibility" reinforced by our massive networks of prison and prison-like institutions. I’m also interested in the intersections between aesthetics and activism more generally, but I do not think this question can be usefully answered in abstraction from engagement with concrete creative works. 

How do you relate the term poiesis to your work?

Many in my field of philosophy still seem to think that poesis and reality are opposed terms. Of course, there is such a thing as "fantasy" in the escapist sense, that is, fantasy that removes us from engagement with social reality. But philosophy, art and poesis can actually counter fantasy and return us to a confrontation with what is really happening. And what is really happening may in fact be stranger than fiction!

Which film or other audiovisual format has resonated with you lately and why?

I can’t stop thinking about C'MON, C'MON starring Joaquin Phoenix and directed by Mike Mills. It’s a movie about childhood: why it’s so important to dream, play and imagine like a child, and how hard it can be to do so, especially when a future is uncertain. It’s also a movie about the impossible expectations placed on motherhood in our society, the way we ask mothers to singlehandedly heal ourselves and our relationships. It’s very much a "perfectionist" film, in something like Stanley Cavell’s sense of the term.