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Aldo Milohnić: Historization and Historical Materialism

Monday, 15 December 2008 

Cankarjev dom, M3/M4 Hall, Ljubljana

Referring to Lévi-Strauss, we could say that Brecht’s alienation effect is the practice of a “detached gaze” in the theatre. Actors must assume a critical standpoint towards the events and attitudes they perform; they must approach them in the way that a historiographer writes about the discontinued old customs or an anthropologist explores the complex familial structures in distant lands. In this, an actor can use various methods; one of such methods that Brecht considered very significant is historization. A historian approaches past events from a temporal distance, while the actor is supposed to develop a distanced relationship towards contemporary events and attitudes. The distanced actor of Brecht’s theatre implies the possibility of the viewer’s detached gaze. Perhaps it was precisely this Brechtian stance that Benjamin had in mind when he wrote about the “historical materialist” who, as a “distanced observer”, moves away from the cultural and historical mainstream and has the task to “brush history against the grain”. 

About the lecturer

Aldo Milohnić, MA in Sociology of Culture, is a researcher at the Peace Institute Ljubljana – Institute for Contemporary Social and Political Studies where he heads research projects in the fields of sociology of culture and cultural policy. He is editor of the Politike book series, and co-editor of numerous special issues of cultural magazines and journals and the co-author of books, the latest being Culture Ltd: Material Conditions of Cultural Production. He is member of the supervisory board of Maska Institute, which is to publish his new book in 2009. Between 1991 and 2006, he was on the editorial board of the journal Maska and, since 2007, he has been on the editorial board of the new theatre magazine Amfiteater