Terror, Territory and the Twentieth Century

22 November 2010, 12:45 - 14:00

CRASSH

Part of the CRASSH Fellows Work-in-Progress seminar series.  All welcome, no registration necessary.  Sandwich lunch and refreshments provided.

Dr Shruti Kapila (History, Corpus Christi)

Abstract

My new project is concerned with the political and intellectual role of one of the most significant, but almost entirely ignored figures of the twentieth century. The work examines, in the first instance, the biography of Har Dayal, (1884-1938) a major intellectual and  an anti-colonial and trans-national radical whose activities occasioned the twentieth century’s first imperial legislation against ‘terror’ and ‘treason’. Because modern history has been effectively strait-jacketed into the narratives of nation and empire, his life-story, while instructive of the twentieth century, remains obscure.

Traversing and creating a counter-geography to the British Empire Har Dayal founded the ‘Ghadar’ (Mutiny) Movement in 1912 headquartered in California. Often remembered as the ‘first armed revolution’ against the Empire, and with its main ally of the Pan-Islamism mobilized the globe into the theatre of the First World War. The movement, then, has defied a historical account precisely because of its extra-territorial nature and its indeterminate relationship with ideologies of nationalism and Communism.

In reconstructing biography, intellectual currents, imperial legislation and an armed movement, my new project will aim to centre and explore the question of the radical potential of violence for political transformation. I  will locate this problem strictly in the context of the twentieth century itself, through the perspective of the century’s own subjective character. It aims to develop new perspectives on the question of terror while relating the foundational role of extra-territoriality as it collided with territorial nationalism. Often viewed as a pathological form of politics, I will argue instead that the targeted economy of violence has been constitutive of the twentieth century world order. The work will explore the nature of the subject (the ‘terrorist’) and the limits of the Human that such an economy of violence is predicated upon. The work will intervene and critique recent discussions on the nature of subjective and objective violence.

 

 

 

To access the Readings for the Work in Progress seminar, please contact Michelle Maciejewska.