Global Research Programme on Inequality
Lecture by honorary doctor Achille Mbembe

The Universal Right to Breathe

In this lecture Achille Mbembe will revisit his 2020 essay ‘The Universal Right to Breathe’.

Profile picture of Achille Mbembe. He is a black man with glasses, wearing a blue suit with a white shirt and smiling.
University of Southern California/Duke University Press

Main content

Since Achille Mbembe wrote the essay ‘The Universal Right to Breathe’ in 2020 world historical developments have gathered apace. The right to breathe and to the means of existence has only become an even more difficult and contested topic. Climate change has accelerated, and war is more than ever the sacrament of our time.

In his lecture, Mbembe will reflect on some of these newly changed conditions from the vantage point of Africa, a key laboratory of planetary transformations


Moderator: Pro dean for research at Faculty of Social Sciences, Prof. Siri Gloppen, University of Bergen. 

  • 10:00: Welcome

Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, prof. Jan-Erik Askildsen, University of Bergen

  • 10:05 - 10:10: Achille Mbembe: An introduction

Prof. Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, Dept. of Social Anthropology, University of Bergen

  • 10:10 - 11:00: “The Universal Right to Breathe”

Prof. Achille Mbembe, Wits Institute for Social Science Research (WISER), University of the Witwatersrand

  • 11:00 - 12:00: Commentaries, discussion and Q&A from the audience

Dr. Catalina Vallejo Pidrahíta, Facuilty of Law, University of Bergen (commentator)                 Dr. Carmeliza Rosário, Chr. Michelsen Institute and University of Bergen (commentator)