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


  • Nina Cvar



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


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.

Author Biography

Nina Cvar

Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU)

Nina Cvar (1982) graduated from cultural studies at the Faculty of Social Studies at the University of Ljubljana. Currently she is a PhD candidate at the postgraduate program at SRC SASA (Ljubljana, Slovenia), under the supervision of Marina Gržinić. She has presented her work at several international conferences. As an independent film critic she writes for numerous Slovenian publications and holds public lectures on film and film theory.


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How to Cite

Cvar, N. (2017). 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), 81–89.