New Diplomatic Encounters: Taipei Biennial 2020 Symposium International ForumTaipei Biennial

The symposium will gather artists and thinkers around the 2020 biennale to deal with a situation which is becoming more and more pressing: people “around” the world no longer agree on what it means to live “on” earth. For example, it was said in the beginning of the Trump administration that he had no coherent strategy, but it seems on the contrary that he had one that unfolded over the past three years without fail: deregulating and isolating themselves from any international project. It clearly said: “We are not on the same Earth as you”. What is the meaning of politics, when the warring parties are taken each other as aliens belonging to another planet altogether? It is as if the question was no longer about different visions of the same planet, but about the composition and shape of several planets in conflicts with one another. Pluralism has taken a much more explicit ontological shape, as if we were literally living on different earths — and at war.


The new situation underlines that in fact the “geo” in “geo-politics” has been continuously ignored: the successive “world orders” have treated planet Earth as a fairly homogeneous place where there would be different forms of resources, different kinds of interests, and different kinds of sovereignties, but all still unified by one homogenic and overarching concept of One Nature. A Nature which ought to be dominated. As we come closer to a series of tipping points, we simultaneously witness a division between those who seem to have abandoned planet Earth, those who try to make it more inhabitable, and those whose cosmology never fitted within the ideals of the globalizing project in the first place. Which planetarity do you live through, to use Dipesh Chakrabarty’s notion, is now what is at stake.


This new state of war between worlds flies in the face of many ecological ideals elaborated during the 20th century; especially the principle that its topics were of such paramount importance that political ecology could bypass the tedious process of negotiation that any political action would require. Unanimity was supposed to rally the masses in a strong revolutionary push to “save the planet”. However, for the last forty years, we have seen that ecology does not unify, it divides. It divides the generations who will deal with it from those who are not paying the consequences; it divides the regions already affected by climate disasters from those which are protected; it divides inside each region the classes that do not suffer to the same extent the decisions taken by other classes; furthermore, it divides every one of us at the personal level: for each decision we take, we know there are cascades of unintended consequences that make hard to decide what’s good and what’s bad.


But where do we go from here? Where do we direct ourselves once this position of division is fully assumed, once our colonial history has shattered the ideal of universalism, once we find ourselves in a fragile situation that is being taken advantage of to serve populist agendas?


The present imperative is not simply to foster discussion amongst a multiplicity of perspectives, which would inevitably fall back to older models of universalism — reconciling multiple visions of the same natural world. The aim is to explore alternative procedures that still aim at some sort of settlement but after having fully accepted that divisions go much further than what previous universalist visions had anticipated. Or show why this is impossible and draw the political and ethical conclusions of this quandary.


For lack of a common world, it is crucial that we imagine different procedures that will at least explain why it is impossible to simply “sit at the same table”. What is peace and war when levels of dissent go this deep? If you and I don’t live on “the same planet”, it is crucially important to explore alternatives to avoid total destruction, while not being submitted to an overarching authority. This is what we mean by “new diplomatic encounters”. It is because of the immense difficulty of imagining those new forms of diplomacy, that we start by assembling virtually several of the thinkers who have gone the further in not simplifying the difficulty of abandoning older versions of universalism. 




New Diplomatic Encounters: Taipei Biennial 2020 Symposium


Time: November 21 (Sat.) 13:30 - 18:30

Venue: Auditorium, Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Simultaneous Interpretation in Mandarin and English Provided

13:30 go Live / English Channel:

- Online pre-registration is required and begins on November 9 (Mon.)

- Online Pre-registration:  (The registration page will automatically close when reached the maximum number of participants)

- Check-in: November 21 (Sat.) 12:50 - 13:15; the registration expires when exceeding the check-in timeframe


  • Due to the pandemic, Bruno Latour and Yuk Hui are not able to travel and present in person. Instead, pre-recorded video lectures will be played on the day of the symposium (with Chinese subtitle); there will be time for Q&A. Bruno Latour and Yuk Hui will join the symposium via the internet to conversate with audiences
  • To follow precaution measures for COVID-19, please see the museum's corresponding provisions in the updated announcement before visiting
  • In the case of changes on the symposium schedule, information on the official website shall prevail


11.21 13:30 LIVE STREAM
(English Channel)
English Channel