Summer 2022 Summer 2021 Summer 2020 Spring 2020 Fall 2019

Cosmic Alternatives III: The Outside

Faculty: Natalia Brizuela, Martin Savransky, Peter Skafish, Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

June 27-July 6 2021, Porto 

Tuition: €650 with institutional funding/sliding scale out of pocket 

Is there anything—is there anyone—outside this world? The modern world that emerged during the colonial era and has largely persisted until today has been various conceived of as the technologization of all beings, or their ontological partition, or the absolute commensuration of each with the rest. But while these definitions tell us something about certain essential aspects of modernity, they may not tell us what they together do, which is to incorporate beings into an ever greater and more potent system. Put differently, modernity might foremost be the project of bringing beings and worlds inside the capacious and diverse world it makes of them.

In this edition of the Cosmic Alternatives summer school, we will consider whether such a concept of modernity might allow us to better diagnosis the condition of certain crises and problems that are believed to afflict the entire world but may very well foremost serve to enforce and reproduce a very specific idea of it. Taking up theoretical, philosophical, aesthetic, fictional, and “outsider” attempts to reckon with whether there might be an exterior to our world (and who might be there) or how to make one and get to it, we will ponder anew the question of cosmic alternatives—and the alternatives in thought they offer. Running the gamut from anarchist politics, Black thought, cosmopolitical philosophy, decolonial thought, experimental ethnography, fugitive practices… to variational metaphysics, wild queerness, xenological fictions, Yanomami dreaming, and zoosemiotics, we will consider both recognized and farflung challenges to the demand the world makes to remain inside it and accept that position.

 Taught by a roster of faculty who work between anthropology, art theory, global critical theory, and philosophy, PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, faculty, activists, and others concerned with such problems as climate politics, coloniality, human-nonhuman relations, nonmodern cosmologies, radical pluralism, secularism, the politics of science, and so on will have a unique opportunity to learn from this cohort of faculty in an intense and collaborative format. We also welcome participants with art practices in digital visual, sound, time-based, and other media.  

Seminar and discussions will take place on site at the Serralves Museum, in Porto.


To apply, please send to a brief letter of interest, your cv, and a sample of your work (provide a link for large files) and indicate that you are applying to the “Cosmic Alternatives III” summer school. Please also indicate the title of summer school in the subject line of your email and combine all written files into one pdf. 


As the date of the event is near, please apply as soon as possible or contact us to state your intention to apply to guarantee full consideration and in order to arrange institutional funding if applicable (we will, however, accept applications until the second or third week of June). Note that the Institute of Speculative and Critical Inquiry cannot easily provide financial aid at this time.

About the Faculty:

Natalia Brizuela is Professor of Spanish & Portuguese and Film & Media at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work focuses on photography, film and contemporary art, critical theory and aesthetics of both Spanish America and Brazil. She is the author of two books on photography. The first, Fotografia e Império. Paisagens para um Brasil Moderno (Cia das Letras, 2012) is a study of 19th Century photography in Brasil in its relationship to modern state formation, nationalism, modernization and race. The second, Depois da fotografia. Uma literatura fora de si (Rocco, 2014) is a study of contemporary literature in an expanded field, looking particularly at the relationship between current literary practices and photographic languages, techniques and materialities. With Jodi Roberts she has written two books, Photography at its Limits (OneEditionBooks, 2019) and The Matter of Photography in the Americas(Stanford University Press, 2018), as part of exhibition projects they co-curated. She has also curated NO SÉ (El templo del sol), a solo exhibition of Brazilian artist Nuno Ramos at the Parque de la Memoria in Buenos Aires in 2015, and is currently preparing an exhibition on the work of Waldemar Cordeiro with Rachel Price. She is currently at work on two book length projects. The first looks at instances of contemporary photographic production which have moved beyond the medium and historical material conditions of photography. The second one is a study of time as critique in contemporary aesthetics. With Leticia Sabsay (LSE) she is the co-editor of the book series Critical South (Polity Books).

Eduardo Batalha Viveiros de Castro is a Brazilian anthropologist and a professor at the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He has published many books and articles, among them Cannibal MetaphysicsThe Ends of The WorldFrom the Enemy's Point of View: Humanity and Divinity in an Amazonian SocietyThe Inconstancy of the Wild Soul and Other Essays on Anthropology. Born in Rio de Janeiro, Viveiros de Castro has taught at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, the University of Chicago, and at the University of Cambridge

Martin Savransky is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he convenes the MA Ecology, Culture & Society. His work combines philosophy and the social sciences, postcolonial thought and the environmental humanities, to activate fugitive and speculative methodologies of life on unstable ecological terrain. He is the author of Around the Day in Eighty Worlds: Politics of the Pluriverse (Duke University Press, 2021) and The Adventure of Relevance: An Ethics of Social Inquiry (with a foreword by Isabelle Stengers; Palgrave, 2016), and the co-editor of After Progress (Sage, 2022) and of Speculative Research: The Lure of Possible Futures (Routledge, 2017)He has published essays in forums such as Theory, Culture & Society, Social Text, The Sociological Review, and SubStance: A Review of Literary and Cultural CriticismHe has co-curated the new After Progress digital exhibition (, and is currently working on a new book length project (tentatively) titled The Murmurs of the Outside: Subaltern Ecologies and Uncivilised Life. 

Peter Skafish works between anthropology and philosophy on the question of what thinking is, both in and outside modernity. He has held positions at the Collège de France, the University of California, Berkeley, McGill University, and the Bauhaus University, Weimar. In addition to writing the introduction to the English translation of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s De Montaigne à Montaigne and co-editing the book Comparative Metaphysics: Ontology After Anthropology, he has published essays in forums such as Angelaki, Common Knowledge, Cultural Anthropology, and Qui Parle. He is also a translator, including of Catherine Malabou’s The Heidegger Change and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro’s Cannibal Metaphysics (both of which he also introduced) and, the editor of the journal The Otherwise. He is currently completing the book Rough Metaphysics: Speculative Thought in a Pluriversal Channel (An Anthropology of Concepts), forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.