Guest lecture “Courage in Politics” By Cynthia Fleury (CNAM/Ecole des Mines Paris)
Thanks to the Institut Francais and the French Embassy in Nigeria, IFRA organised a series of lectures by Cynthia Fleury, philosopher and psychoanalyst, professor at the National Center for Arts and Crafts (CNAM). On Friday, 20th of September, Prof. Fleury was welcome at our cherished Draper’s hall at the Institute of African Studies in the University of Ibadan for a challenging lecture entitled “Courage in politics”.
Drawing on the work of Vladimir Jankelevitch, Tocqueville and Hobbes among other authors to propose a dual exploration of clinical and theoretical groundings of the notion of courage, she conceptualised courage as an asset of subject’s agency and as a way to avoid the erosion of the subject. She explained how courage could mediate the implementation of collective governance in a society plagued with cowardice, playing a part in the individuation required for the emergence of a democratic. She then focused on the stakes of the “Parrhesia” defined by Michel Foucault as “free speech”, a notion inextricably intertwined with that of courage.
Many habitués of IFRA programmes attended the lecture and participated actively in a dynamic Q&A session. IFRA fellows, students, academics and strangers reflected critically on the possibility of a relativistic understanding of courage as opposed to a universal meaning, the potential of recognition of courageous acts by the rest of society, or on the relevance of an innate, native conception of the development of courage as something the subject is born with or not. They dared taking issue with statements they disagreed with and many had a lot to say based on their own experience. A special screening of the Thursday Film Series ensued in relation to the topic of courage. The movie selected was A Special Day (1977) by Ettora Scola, starring Marcello Mastroianni and Sofia Loren.
The next day, Cynthia Fleury led a workshop discussion with IFRA fellows in our library. The exchanges aimed at introducing the work of students IFRA is used to work with to Cynthia Fleury and provide theoretical and methodological reflexions on their own research topics.
Lecture of Cynthia Fleury in Draper’s Hall