Decolonial Articulation of Potentiality: On Opening and Going Beyond to the Figure of “Becoming the Negro of the World”

Nina Cvar


As stated by Giorgio Agamben, in Western philosophy, potentiality is part of a very long tradition. Potentiality represents one of the central concepts of Western philosophy, already claiming this status with Aristotle, who posited potentiality against actuality, framing it into a specific register of knowledge, to a specific mode of anthropogenesis, to an anthropological machine. However, what does this mean for the politics of potentiality, if, as shown by Marina Gržinić in her book Estetika kibersveta in učinki derealizacije [Aaesthetics of the Cyber World and Effects of Derealisation], in the chapter Zunaj biti [Beyond Being], potentiality is thematised through the tradition of metaphysics as a process that never really comes to an end, incessantly deciding upon what counts as human and what does not. In this respect the aim of this text is threefold: first, to suggest that potentiality is to be examined within the context of the process of anthropogenesis as put forward by Agamben in The Open: Man and Animal; second, in order to show their inadequacy, to critically evaluate political ontologies of potentiality within the Western anthropological machine; third, following Achille Mbembe’s political figure of “becoming the Negro of the world”, to (de)articulate the concept of potentiality, consequently positing it beyond the Western anthropological machine and offering its decolonial articulation.


Article received: June 2, 2017; Article accepted: June 16, 2017; Published online: October 15, 2017; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Cvar, Nina. "Decolonial Articulation of Potentiality: On Opening and Going Beyond to the Figure of 'Becoming the Negro of the World'.” AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 14 (2017): 81-89. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i14.212


potentiality, anthropological machine, anthropogenesis, “becoming the Negro of the world”, decoloniality

Full Text:



Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003.

Agamben, Giorgio. “On Potentiality.” In Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, edited and translated by Daniel Heller-Roazen. Stanford: Stanford University, 2000.

Balskus, Elizabeth. “Examining Potentiality in the Philosophy of Giorgio Agamben.” Saint Paul, Macalester Journal of Philosophy 19, 1 (2010): 158–80.

Diefenbach, Katja. “Im/Potential Politics: Political Ontologies of Negri, Agamben and Deleuze.” EIPCP – European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies. Accessed April 1, 2017.

Gržinić, Marina. “Kolonializem Evrope, dekolonialnost in rasizem.” In Politika, estetika in demokracija, edited by Marina Gržinić, 1–131. Novo mesto, Ljubljana: Luminus, Založba ZRC, ZRC SAZU, 2015.

Gržinić, Marina. “Europe’s Colonialism, Decolonitality, and Racism.” In Postcoloniality – Decoloniality – Black Cririque: Joints and Fissures, edited by Sabine Broeck, and Carsten Junker, 129–44. Frankfurt, New York: Campus Verlag, 2014.

Gržinić, Marina. Estetika kibersveta in učinki derealizacije. Ljubljana, Založba ZRC, 2003.

Lugones, María. “Toward a Decolonial Feminism.” Hypatia: a Journal of Feminist Philosophy 25, 4 (2010): 742–59. doi: 10.1111/j.1527-2001.2010.01137.x

Malabou, Catherine. What Should We Do with Our Brain?. Bronx, New York: Fordham University, 2008.

Mignolo, Walter. “Coloniality: The Darker Side of Modernity.” Accessed April 1, 2017.

Mills, Charles W. “Kant’s Untermenschen.” Race and Racism in Modern Philosophy 3 (2005): 169–93.

Riha, Rado. “The Semblant and the Act.” Filozofski vestnik 300 (2009): 7–20.

Zupančič Žerdin, Alenka. Seksualno in ontologija. Ljubljana: Društvo za teoretsko psihoanalizo, 2011.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 AM Journal of Art and Media Studies

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

AM Journal of Art and Media Studies ISSN 2217-9666 - printed, ISSN 2406-1654 - online, UDK 7.01:316.774


Publisher: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

Indexed in: ERIH PLUSEBSCODOAJ, and in The List of Scientific Journals Categorization of Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development of Republic of Serbia (M51-2019). Beginning with No. 12 2017, AM is indexed, abstracted and covered in Clarivate Analytics service ESCI.