May 15, 2018 / Zoenie Liwen Deng

Academy of Failure

Academy of Failure, as part of Humanities Across Borders in IIAS, is going to take place in Institute for Provocation, Beijing from 25th to 27th May 2018.

The programme can be found in the link below.


Our global, and some may say neoliberal, mindset has excluded the possibility of failure, in

its constant validation and celebration of notions of progress, development, innovation, and

improvement. In particular East Asia seems to be hooked to the idea of progress and

development – more is better. But is it really? How can we rescue failure from its negative

connotations? How can we bring it back into and beyond the classroom as a valuable tool

for thinking, for knowledge production, and also for creative production as well as political

activism? According to the late Marc Karlin, politics is a learning process about how to live

with pessimism and how to work on yourself in relation to that pessimism. We may think the

same of failure. This workshop aims to explore the possibilities and impossibilities of failure

for three different domains:

1. Pedagogy

2. Creativity

3. Activism

All three domains are driven by a teleological idea of progress, newness and change; the

notion of failure can be seen as a potential threat of this underpinning rationale, but in our

view, failure can also be mobilized as an enabling technique, a tactic that resists the demand

for more and better, a way to recuperate different forms of education, different modes of

being creative, and a different kind of politics.