Upcoming events

Thinking from the Global South Distinguished Lecture by Brian Meeks,Brown University, USA

Talk: Optimism in Troubled Times: Revolution, Tragedy and Possibility in Caribbean History

Despite the defeats of the popular movements for revolutionary and radical change in the Anglophone Caribbean, I retain a general optimism as to the possibilities of learning from them and of charting new paths for the future. Others, like David Scott, on the contrary and consistent with perspectives on ‘the tragic’ developed in his recent work, have been far more cautious and pessimistic. What then is the foundation for radical optimism or its converse, a tendency towards emphasizing pessimism and tragedy? I use Scott’s work, particularly in Conscripts of Modernity and Omens of Adversity and read them alongside C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins and V.S. Naipaul’s Guerrillas among other texts, in order to rethink the foundations for a politics of radical optimism in an era of political defeat and epistemic uncertainty.

Date: 23 April 2019
Time: 10am-12 pm
Venue: Centre for Indian Studies in Africa,36 Jorissen Street

Seminar: Is Caribbean Thought a useful Category? Thinking the Caribbean as a Distinctive Space through Stuart Hall, Sylvia Wynter and Kamau Brathwaite

What does it mean to speak of people like Stuart Hall as a Caribbean thinker? He was, of course, born in Jamaica and went to high school there, but the rest of his life and formation was in the United Kingdom, at Oxford, in the new left and at Birmingham and later the Open University, where he led the forging of modern cultural studies. Despite this cosmopolitan trajectory, (indeed, in part, because of it) his work was distinctively Caribbean and deserves to be honored as such. Referencing Hall’s work along with that of Sylvia Wynter and Kamau Brathwaite, I try to think through the unanswered question of the distinctiveness of Caribbean thought and argue as to whether it deserves its own space, amidst the panoply of late colonial and early post-colonial radical thinking.

Date: 23 April 2019
Time: 2-4 pm
Venue: Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, 36 Jorissen Street

 

 

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Thinking from the Global South Distinguished Lecture by Peter Adamson, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

Philosophy Without Borders: Intellectual Exchange between India, Europe, Islam, and Africa

This lecture will make a case that the idea that European philosophy cannot be understood if it is studied in isolation. In fact the history of ancient and medieval thought shows that ideas were transmitted out of, and back into, Western Europe through a series of translations movements, most famously into Arabic but also into many other languages including Armenian, Georgian, and Ge’ez. A case will be made for the idea that it was indeed translation that facilitated profound engagements between cultures, something that is lacking in the much-discussed case of intellectual influence between Indian and ancient Greece and Rome.

Date: 15 April 2019
Time: 5-7 pm
Venue: Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room (South West Engineering Building)


Animals in the Philosophy of the Islamic World

It is commonly supposed that philosophers only recently began to take animal welfare seriously, in the wake of utilitarianism and Darwinism. In this lecture, it will be shown that this is not true: authors of the Islamic world like al-Razi, the Brethren of Purity, Avicenna, and Ibn Tufayl made remarkable contributions to the history of animal ethics and psychology. Reacting to themes from the Quran, Aristotle, and the medical tradition, they argued explicitly for benevolence towards animals and also for acknowledging the sophisticated cognitive abilities of animals. They thus put into question the traditional stark opposition made by philosophers between humans as rational beings, and animals as irrational creatures who do not fall within the scope of moral concern.

Date: 17 April 2019
Time: 5-7 pm
Venue: Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room (South West Engineering Building)

 

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Thinking from the Global South Distinguished Lecture by V.Geetha (Feminist and independent scholar)

Acts of Miscegenation: The Imagination of B R Ambedkar
B. R. Ambedkar, radical democrat and state builder, in his critique of caste and untouchability, his unique sense of the modern moment in history and his reflections on the good and just society and polity transcends his location within Indic as much as Anglo American traditions. How might we characterise these instances of concept-making? What do they tell us about the relationship between vernacular experiences and their English expressions? What acts of miscegnation helped to birth these concepts? I address these questions in the context of a momentous event in modern Indian history: Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism, along with lakhs of his followers in 1956.

Date: 9 April 2019
Time: 5-7 pm
Venue: CB 8 Robert Sobukwe Building (Central Block)

Indian Feminism and its Uncertain Genealogies
For more than two decades and more, Indian feminists have grappled with questions to do with a fractured feminist sisterhood, but through a conceptual lens that we have borrowed from the American context. We thus express our misgivings in terms of ‘intersectional feminism’, and even as we address questions arising from within recognisably Indian realities, of caste, ethnicity and region, we mostly reference conceptual work produced in a context that is quite distinct from ours. This mismatch is not unproductive, but it does not help us understand how, over the decades, we have engaged with ‘difference’ and ‘otherness’ – this history is yet to be mapped out or narrated in ways that capture the idealism of our politics of sisterhood, the manner in which we engaged with questions to do with ‘difference’ and our founded oversights.

Date: 12 April 2019
Time: 5-7 pm
Venue: CB 8 Robert Sobukwe Building (Central Block)

Queries/RSVP: kagiso.makoe@wits.ac.za

 

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Thinking from the Global South Distinguished Lecture by Francesca Orsini (School of Oriental and African Studies)

Archives vs practices

Despite evidence of widespread and persistent multilingual literary tastes, aesthetics, and practices, literary archives in South Asia have been largely monolingual or selectively bilingual, and have erased all but traces of their subjects’ more diffuse multilingualism. This is true of pre-colonial archives, even before new ideas of language, community, and indigeneity under colonialism turned whole languages and traditions into aliens. Rather, in South Asia as elsewhere, attention to the multiple layers of informal as well as formal literary education, and to textual and contextual clues in the archives, help us reconstruct a richer and more connected picture of multilingual literary culture.

Date:02 April 2019
Time: 5-7 pm
Venue:Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room

Space and dialogism

Archives typically do not mention contiguous literary subjects working in different traditions and languages, promoting a view of separate life-worlds despite noticing “curious” similarities. A spatial approach that actively looks for the “multiplicity of stories and trajectories” (Massey) and is attentive to the dialogism of utterances (Bakhtin), by contrast, can go a long way into explaining the utterances themselves and who they are in silent dialogue with. This lecture will present two case studies from North India: the “silent dialogue” between Sufis and Sants (devotional poet saints), and an anthology of modern writing on the city of Allahabad.

Date: 04 April 2019
Time: 5-7 pm
Venue: Humanities Graduate Centre Seminar Room

Queries/RSVP: kagiso.makoe@wits.ac.za

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Thinking from the Global South Distinguished Lecture by Souleyman Bachir Diagne, Columbia University

Timbuktu

The recent occupation of the northern part of Mali followed by the destruction of monuments in Timbuktu has called the attention of the world to the historical importance of that city. I will examine the significance of that intellectual capital of the Mali and Songhay empires concerning the notion of “world history”. Particular emphasis will be placed on its significance as a symbol for the tradition of written erudition in large regions of Africa.

Date: Thursday 14 March 2019
Venue: CB 8 (Central Block) Robert Sobukwe Building
Time: 5-7 pm

The decolonial significance of translation

I propose to explore and discuss the decolonial significance of the simple act of translation, of “putting in touch” languages (Antoine Berman), in an ethical gesture of creating between them reciprocity and equivalence even in the fundamentally asymmetrical space of colonialism. I will first examine the role played, against the colonial order, and against the colonial “science of the others”, by European poets and artists who “put in touch” the language of their aesthetic quest and that of African artistic forms. I will then discuss the decolonial import of the literature born from the translation of African orature (considering the example of francophone West Africa) into European languages.

Date: Tuesday 19 March 2019
Venue: Centre for Indian Studies in Africa, 36 Jorissen Street
Time: 5-7 pm

Queries/RSVP: kagiso.makoe@wits.ac.za

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Thinking from the Global South Distinguished Lecture by Bryan W. Van Norden

Learning from Chinese Philosophy

Taking Back Philosophy: A Multicultural Manifesto have challenged the status quo and demanded that we return to the cosmopolitan ideals of philosophy. This lecture gives a brief overview of changing European attitudes toward Chinese philosophy, and also provides several examples of the profound and distinct philosophical debates that existed in China on issues such as consequentialism, human nature, ethical egoism, relativism, and skepticism.

Date: Tuesday, 26th February 2019
Venue: CB 8 (Central Block) Robert Sobukwe Building Time:
Time: 5-7 pm

Trends in 20th Century Chinese Philosophy in Historical Context

Chinese intellectuals provided four major responses to the crisis posed by Western imperialism in the 20th century. The New Culture and Marxist movements both advocated the abolition of traditional Chinese thought and institutions. New Confucians agreed that China needs to learn democracy and science from the West. Finally, some Chinese thinkers have tried to synthesize Marxism and Confucianism.

Date: Thursday, 28th February 2019
Venue: CB 8 (Central Block) Robert Sobukwe Building Time:
Time: 5-7 pm

Queries/RSVP: kagiso.makoe@wits.ac.za