We – the Institute for Affirmative Sabotage – in short IAS – want to sabotage scientific and cultural institutions in a power-critical way.
The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

We Say Yes, they can.

Spivak’s approach to affirmative sabotage is an attempt to re-formulate Audre Lorde’s oft-cited statement “A Master’s Tool will Never Dismantle the Master’s House.” Spivak posits the consideration that perhaps it is possible after all to dismantle the master’s house with one’s own tools.

IAS is an attempt to affirmatively sabotage cultural and scientific enterprises with their own tools.

The dictionary defines sabotage as “an intentional [planned] impairment of the performance of political, military, or economic institutions through [passive] resistance, disruption of the work process, or damage to and destruction of equipment, machinery, or the like.”

Affirmative Sabotage

Instead of systematic destruction, affirmative sabotage relies on the fact that it is possible and necessary after all to appropriate instruments and theories of hegemonic discourses for critical intervention. It is not a standardized resistance strategy. No, an affirmative sabotage is always contextually and dependent on the agency of subjects.

With the concept of affirmative sabotage, Spivak shows that it is necessary to work with and against the enlightenment. This means, for instance, working with and against Schiller’s understanding of aesthetic education. This again represents a contradiction or, according to Spivak, it is a double bind that must be learned to love.

Also, in the context of the IAS, it is necessary to work with and against the values of the Enlightenment.

Double bind means recognizing the ambivalent situation that diversifying transformation processes are simultaneously accompanied by power stabilization. Double bind helps to learn to deal with the paradoxical demands in times of globalization.

For us, the pomegranate is the symbol and basic tool of affirmative sabotage. Pomegranates are red, sticky, and the stains they leave behind are hard to get off – so that each completed act of sabotage remains permanently visible.

As a Reminder,
that We are Here.
As a Warning,
that We are Many.

If we open the pomegranate, we find countless pomegranate seeds. Let’s say: If the pomegranate represents a collective weapon and resistance, then the pomegranate seeds can also represent the individuals who form a collective standing closely together in the mass. The seeds can simultaneously stand for the various strategies of Affirmative Sabotage.

The skin of the pomegranate was traditionally used as a dye. IAS also dyes and marks Eurocentric practices and dynamics, making them visible and sounding the alarm. In this way, we can appropriate artistic tools for critical intervention such as re-writing Eurocentric canons, occupying spaces within hegemonic institutions, and thus redistributing existing resources for our purposes. At the same time, we want to learn and to build on past practices of resistance fighters.

The pomegranate
a collective weapon.
The pomegranate

We do not allow
ourselves to be

The pomegranate is a plant species that cannot be clearly assigned to a family. In the same way, our diaspora identities are multidimensional and cannot be categorized. They defy any labels. We do not allow ourselves to be pigeonholed either.

Affirmative Sabotage is
a Disturbance of the Harmony.
It Disturbs and Destroys.

The watery skin of pomegranates explosively shatters when heated. Affirmative Sabotage is also a gentle threat. It is sometimes undercover, sometimes visible. It is sometimes predictable, sometimes unpredictable – sometimes loud, sometimes quiet, sometimes creeping up, sometimes explosive. We want the (dis)disruption of the status quo. We want lasting change.

We work with and against
We work with and against
We work with and against
Diversity Politics.

We work for us.