24 Jun 2019

Queer (Non)ontology

Thinking with the Zero
Traditionally understood as the philosophical study of being, ontology, especially as it has been taken up in more recent critical theory, has tended to privilege notions of existence, presence, and affirmation. What is lost, repressed, or forgotten in ontological frameworks that, in so far as they do address nonbeing, understand it to be the negation of a being that is supposedly always primary?

This workshop will address the potential and limits of the ‘ontological turn’ for queer studies, a field long concerned with what is excluded or negated in systems of relation. In their introduction to the recent issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, ‘The Ontology of the Couple’, S. Pearl Brilmyer, Filippo Trentin, and Zairong Xiang chase after a ‘zero’ that, they argue, must always be eliminated or dialectically synthesized in order for ‘two to become one’.

Drawing on early psychoanalytic theory, Daoist cosmology, and critical race studies, they work to reconfigure a series of binaries that have divided the field of queer studies over the past few decades: normativity versus antinormativity, future versus no-future, negativity versus optimism, relationality versus antirelationality, West versus non-West. Proceeding from a reading of this introduction, this workshop will ask whether ‘queer’ stands always at the threshold of ontology, a (non)ontological leftover that allows being, life, and relationality to cohere.


16:00 Introduction

16:10 – 17:10 Part I

17:10 – 17:30 Coffee break

17:30 – 18:30 Part II


ICI Berlin
(Click for further documentation)


S. Pearl Brilmyer
Greta LaFleur
Filippo Trentin
Zairong Xiang

Organized by

S. Pearl Brilmyer
Filippo Trentin
Zairong Xiang

In English

First published on:
Rights: © ICI Berlin
Cite as: Queer (Non)ontology: Thinking with the Zero, workshop, ICI Berlin, 24 June 2019 <>