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The Irony of Race Relations: An Experiential Seminar on The Contemporary Discourse on Race from an Existential Perspective – DEVANG VAIDYA – 20th of July 2020 @ 11 am to 4 pm

July 20, 2020 @ 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

£30.00 – £40.00

The Irony of Race Relations: An Experiential Seminar on The Contemporary Discourse on Race from an Existential Perspective

Devang Vaidya

Devang Vaidya is a person-centred existential therapist based in London. His research focuses on Kierkegaard studies for tracing the existential foundations of person-centred therapy. Other interests lie at the intersection of therapy with philosophy, arts, psychoanalysis, and critical social theory.

Thinking about race is hard. Talking, harder. In trying to express a point of view, one stumbles into saying something controversial. It is ironic when this occurs, but sometimes the irony is lost and offence is caused. Devang, therefore, considered four alternatives for the title of his seminar. Each of these relates to prevailing forms of irony in society that are relevant to race: the irony of equality ethics, the irony of diversity ethics, the irony of political discourse, and the irony of social identity. These are general forms of what he refers to as the category of ‘irony of public life’. By irony he means any state of affairs that verges on contradicting its meaningfulness.

In contrast to the ‘irony of public life’, Devang draws upon contemporary Kierkegaardian scholarship to propose a different category: existential irony. He suggest existential irony as a kind of capability or an act rather than a state of affairs. It is a kind of practice that sits between meditation, dreaming, art, ethics, and encounter therapy. It aims to generate first-person accounts (in contrast to abstract social critiques) of moments of uncanniness in our life. In these moments, the borders of our practical context are allowed to fall apart. As our assertions of knowledge begin to dissolve, our individual and collective complicity is revealed in perpetuating ignorance and alienation in relation to ourselves and each other.

Existential irony involves cultivating perceptual openness, building emotional stamina, and welcoming moments of our own de-centering. It can be one way to catch our selves red-handed, without condemning or condoning, in acts of what Sartre might call ‘bad faith’, Heidegger ‘inauthenticity’, Nietzsche ‘ressentiment’, and Kierkegaard ‘spiritlessness’. Encountering this fallibility is not easy. The failure rate is high. But it may eventually lead to a kind of waking up that comes with giving up the pretense of ‘woke posturing’, virtue-signalling, and political correctness that we have occasionally witnessed after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Rather than stifle or evacuate our vital cathartic impulses, existential irony can include these to show us possibilities of directly engaging with the struggle for recognition of disenfranchised communities, and our collective emancipation from the clutches of hyper-capitalism and neoliberalism.


This event will take place on Zoom. A link will be sent prior to the date.

A 4-hours Certificate of Attendance will be emailed to participants.


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July 20, 2020
11:00 am - 4:00 pm
£30.00 – £40.00
Event Category:


Thoraya Alkasab