Postcolonial Empires: Transnational Being and Ontological Politics [2008-2011]

From 2008 to 2011


About

The series theme for the 2010-11 academic year will be ‘Postcolonial Empires: Transnational Being and Ontological Politics’ and will focus on the various types of knowledges and practices of knowledge production that have been taken up in the global South, especially against the uneven and problematic contexts of post colonial politics and global asymmetries. Some of the key questions driving this series will be: How do contesting ontologies inform or underwrite local resistances, and problematize notions of ‘modernity’ and ‘secularism’? And how, if at all, do they find purchase in broader global/dominant discourses?

This thematic will continue to pursue the initial project of the Postcolonial Empires group and its key questions. Does postcolonial theory remain relevant to analytical and critical investigations of twenty-first century empires? How does postcolonial theory then explain the politicisation of religious, spiritual and ‘traditional’ worldviews? How have localised cultural practices become syncretistic and/or opposed to Western modernity?

Postcolonial Empires: Institutions and Historiographies 2009-10.
Our seminar group aims to be a site for inter-disciplinary research within the field of postcolonial studies. From its inception, the field of postcolonial studies has drawn on the work of historians, anthropologists, philosophers and cultural and literary theorists working in various languages and in relation to various geographical regions.

We will continue to pursue the question that formed the basis of our initial project: does postcolonial theory¬ remain relevant to analytical and critical investigations of twenty-first century empires, commercial, cultural and geographic? Building on this, our new sub-title gestures towards the direction of our second year work which asks how postcolonial theory might be relevant in examining historiography, looking at how postcolonial theory helps us to explore physical, material, social, geographical and textual histories. Our key questions include:

-    Who speaks for the past?
-    Who narrates, who is narrated and who is excluded?
-    Who is responsible for making history accessible?
-    How do we interpret history through institutions?
-    Why do we collect?
-    How do archives function as national projects?
-    What is the relationship between memory, the archive, memorialisation and the museum, and why is this important for rethinking history in a postcolonial context?

Our questions require an interdisciplinary mode of address, and are relevant to the CRASSH theme for 2009-10, looking at a ‘sustainable, renewable, or ‘future’ university’ as we seek to look at how institutions, including the university, are sites of  ‘cultural encounter and transformation'. We will continue to examine the state of our common theoretical framework, and also to determine how it has impacted upon the various disciplines to which we belong.
 

Postcolonial Empires: Rhetorics of Resistance 2008-09

From its inception, postcolonial theorists have drawn on a great many disciplinary backgrounds. Significant contributions have been made by historians, anthropologists, philosophers and cultural and literary theorists working in various languages and in relation to various geographical regions. Our group’s primary objective is to question the territorial integrity of this fundamentally inter-disciplinary space. Thirty years on from the publications that established the field, we feel it is time to take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of postcolonial theory, to measure its achievements and failures.

Our seminars will revolve around a number of central questions: does postcolonial theory¬ remain relevant to critical investigations of twenty-first century empires, commercial, cultural and geographic? Has it not itself become something of an imperial formation, a master-narrative effacing regional and temporal specificities? To what extent has postcolonial theory enabled new and effective forms of resistance? Who are postcolonial intellectuals and how do they intervene outside of the academy to confront imperialism as it operates in the spheres of economics, culture and geopolitics?
While addressing ourselves to these and other questions, we will ground our discussions and research by examining a set of key texts and debates, oriented in each of the three terms in relation to a particular geographical region that either has been or that will be important for the development of postcolonial studies. Hoping to engage with empires of the past, present and future, we have chosen as our themes Algeria for Michaelmas, Cuba for Lent and China for Easter. In each term our seminars will be supplemented by film screenings and exhibitions.

Conveners

Conveners

2010-11
Catherine Rashid    (Faculty of English)
Catriona McAllister (Centre of Latin American Studies- CLAS)
Jonathan Agensky  (Department of Politics and International Studies -POLIS

2009-10
Rachel Bower (English)
Manar Makhoul (Asian & Middle Eastern Studies)

2008-09
Jarad Zimbler (Faculty of English)
Natalie Krol (Latin American Studies) 

Past events

 

Postcolonial Empires
Postcolonial Empires: Institutions of Postcolonialism
14 October 2009, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane
Postcolonial Empires: Institutions of Postcolonialism
28 October 2009, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane
Postcolonial Empires: Institutions of Postcolonialism
30 October 2009, Faculty of English, Room GR06/07, 9 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP
Postcolonial Empires: Institutions of Postcolonialism
11 November 2009, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane
Postcolonial Empires: Institutions of Postcolonialism
25 November 2009, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane
Ann Stoler: 'Along the Archival Grain'
14 January 2010, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane, Seminar room
Land as a Source of Memory: Marking Palestinian Presence/Absence in the Galilee
20 January 2010, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane
Postcolonial Empires: Institutions of Postcolonialism
03 February 2010, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane, Seminar room
John Lonsdale: 'Politics, Memory & Memorialisation in Kenya'
17 February 2010, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane
Dr Lotte Hughes: 'Museums, Memory & Memorialisation in Kenya'
03 March 2010, CRASSH 17 Mill Lane
State Archives and State Repression in Socialist Mongolia
28 April 2010, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Dr Sudeshna Guha (Cambridge): Historicising Civilisational Heritage: Archaeology in Constructions of 'Ancient India'
26 May 2010, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Building Foundations: Architecture, History and Authority
04 June 2010, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Ontological Politics: Roundtable Discussion
13 October 2010, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Chair: Dr David Lehmann (Director of Centre of Latin American Studies), Discussants: Dr Tarak Barkawi (POLIS) and Dr. Lori Allen (AMES).
The Failures of the 1992 Commemorations in the Caribbean Basin: Towards a Post National/Post Columbus Caribbean Ontology
27 October 2010, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Fabienne Viala (CLAS)
Anthropology as Cultural Translation: Amitav Ghosh's In an Antique Land
10 November 2010, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Dr. Claire Chambers (Leeds Metropolitan University)
Mohammad Iqbal's poetry
24 November 2010, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane
Professor Javed Majeed (Queen Mary, University of London) and guest chair Pervaiz Nazir (POLIS)
'Australian Constructions of "Mixed Race"'and 'Manaakitanga/Welcome to the Country?'
26 January 2011, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Lyn Dickens (University of Sydney) and Dr. Emma Cox (Royal Holloway)
Comparing Peaceful Sufis and Warrior Saints in Pakistan: Tthe Case of Shaykh Mubarak Ali Shah Gilani
09 February 2011, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Dr Pnina Werbner (Keele)
The Conquest Upside-Down. Identity and Otherness in Contemporary Hispanic Narrative
23 February 2011, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Professor Guido Rings (Anglia Ruskin University)
Literary Canon Formation and Imbalance in Cuba
09 March 2011,
Dr Parvathi Kumaraswami (Manchester)
Church Tu'n Mi Fool: Deconstructing Black Christian Confessional Belief in Postcolonial Britain
04 May 2011, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Dr Anthony Reddie (The Queens, Foundation, Birmingham)
Gender Separatism and Extremism
11 May 2011, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Workshop: Free, online registration required
Transnational Islam and Colonial Critique: Jamaluddin Afghani and Amir Abdul Rahman Khan's Political Activism
18 May 2011, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Dr Pervaiz Nazir (POLIS)
Secular Ways of War
01 June 2011, CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge
Dr Stacey Gutkowski (University of Sussex)