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Conscientious Projections presents ‘HANNAH ARENDT’
March 19, 2017 @ 8:00 pm
In late January, Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism sold out on Amazon. Unfolding over 576 pages, the book chronicles the rise of ant-Semitism in 1800s Europe and analyzes the imperialist empires of the early 20th century, drawing connections across various authoritarian states. Given the size, subject matter, and academic approach, such a surge in sales initially appears unlikely, but is in fact explicable amid growing concerns that President Trump is pushing the United States in the direction of totalitarianism.
But perhaps Arendt’s most lasting contribution to popular culture is the phrase “banality of evil,” coined in her book about the trial of SS-officer Adolf Eichmann. It wasn’t sociopathy or fanaticism, Arendt argued, that led Eichmann to commit crimes against humanity; rather, it was professional obligation and the desire to belong and identify with a group – a wholly normal kind of conformity and stupidity.
Margarethe von Trotta’s biopic, Hannah Arendt, focuses on Arendt’s coverage of the trial in 1961, where she was initially surprised to find Eichmann to be mediocre and unremarkable, not evil. Samantha Hill, a postdoctoral fellow at Bard College’s Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and Associate Faculty at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, will join us for a discussion of totalitarianism and this “banality of evil.”
Fifty percent of ticket sales will be donated to the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, an interdisciplinary teaching and research institute that offers critical, community-based education in the humanities and social sciences. Tickets are available on a pay-what-you-want basis.
Dir. Margarethe von Trotta. 2012. 114 min.