(In collaboration with the Department of English,
) Goa University
June 17 – July 13, 2013
Venue: The Department of English,
The Forum on Contemporary Theory has been conducting an intensive course in Theory/Praxis since 2003 for the benefit of scholars across disciplines interested in new developments in Theory and their application. The Course includes intensive textual readings in specific areas, supported by seminars and talks on broader but related issues. The Course will be held in collaboration with the Department of English,
Goa Universityin Goaduring 17 June – 13 July, 2013.
The Course is organized around the following topics to be discussed in-depth by the core faculty, supported by public lectures and mini-seminars by the invited scholars.
1) Modernity, Democracy, and the Politics of Disorder (Faculty: Dilip Gaonkar) June 18 - June 22, 2013
There is a deep and abiding anxiety about the collective political agency of the people, the demos, in the Western social and political thought and discourse. It begins with the Plato’s image of the demos as the great beast which the rhetor (the oratorically gifted political actor) mistakenly believes that he can manipulate, mobilize and manage to realize his ends. According to Plato, irrespective of whether the ends sought by the rhetor are those of personal aggrandizement or of common good (often confused in the minds of actors such as Alcibiades), he is doomed to fail because in the long run the direction of influence is reversed—the manipulator becomes the manipulated, the seducer is seduced. Ideally, Plato would prefer to exclude the people as a collective political agent altogether. However, Aristotle realized that even in a mixed constitutional polity the agency of the popular classes has to be acknowledged because they are the primary source of political legitimacy, if not the sole source of sovereignty that they were destined to become with the near universal acceptance of the doctrine of popular sovereignty at the onset of modernity, especially after the great revolutions of the late 18th century.
The acceptance of the doctrine of popular sovereignty does not significantly lessen the anxiety about the demos among the elites, especially among intellectual elites. A series of ideological and institutional strategies are put into play to discipline and neutralize the demos with partial success. However, the disruptive presence of the people in their collective capacity as the political crowd, which is often denounced as mob or as multitude, simply cannot be made to disappear.
The objective of this week-long intensive workshop is to chart the trajectory of this persistent strain of anti-democratic thought, disguised as crowd theory (actually anti-crowd theory), within the Western intellectual tradition. This workshop is not being offered as an exercise in intellectual history. The workshop seeks to accomplish two goals: First, the workshop will seek to explore and determine to what extent the non-Western intellectuals, including the nationalist and the post-colonial intellectuals in the global south, have been drawn to and seduced by this tradition of hostility and suspicion directed at the demos, imagined and feared as the collective political agent. Second, the workshop will seek to attend to and assess the significance of the unmistakable emergence of people, as evident from their repeated gatherings in streets and squares in everywhere, especially in the global south.
Topic: The Anti-Crowd Theory in Political Thought: From Plato to James Madison
Topic: The Psycho-Social Aspects of the Anti-Crowd Theory after the French Revolution:
Hippolyte Taine, Gabriel Tarde and Gustave Le Bon
Topic: The Partial Rehabilitation of the Political Crowd among Marxist Historians: Eric
Hobsbawm, E.P. Thompson and George Rude
Topic: The De-politicization of the Crowd in American Liberal and European Postmodern
Thought: Walter Lippmann to Hannah Arendt and Guy Debord to Jurgan Habermas
Topic: The Return of the Political Crowd in the Global South Today: Mahatma Gandhi,
Antonio Negri and James Scott
2) Critical Plant Studies: Philosophy, Science, Culture (Faculty: Michael Marder) June 24 – June 29, 2013
In June 2009, the British media broke a sensational news story based upon a research article published in the journal Ecology Letters by Richard Karban, an entomologist from the
Universityof California, Davisand his colleague Kaori Shiojiri of Kyoto University, . The BBC and The Telegraph were the first to report that sagebrush shrubs are capable of self-recognition and, sensitive to the difference between their genetically identical neighboring clones and unrelated plants, emit biochemical messages warning their kin of herbivore attacks. The seemingly outlandish idea of “talking plants,” made popular in the second installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, finally received a strong scientific backing. Otsu
Truth be told, the revolution in plant sciences did not start only three years ago. At least over the last three decades, botanists, cell biologists, and ecologists have made exciting discoveries of the plants’ surprising capacities to communicate, to perceive changes in their surroundings, and to behave in a deliberate and intelligent fashion. It would be an understatement to note that these findings are debatable. The controversies, now raging in the scientific community, amount to a veritable clash between the dominant view of the plant as a machine and an alternative paradigm of plants as intelligent beings, with their own form of consciousness.
Philosophers, for their part, have remained largely silent on the subject of plant intelligence. Although treatises on animals have been cropping up with remarkable frequency of late, the preoccupations of most philosophers lie far from the realities of rooted organisms, in much more ethereal realms of metaphysics and epistemology. But what if philosophical engagement with the world of plants could shed light on these seemingly unrelated themes and domains at the heart of the discipline? And what if the figure of the plant (perhaps a ghostly figure but an ever-present one nonetheless) has kept growing and quietly thriving on the margins of virtually all the great systems of thought in the Western tradition?
The goal of Critical Plant Studies is to initiate, together with students, an interdisciplinary dialogue, whereby philosophy, science, and the arts would learn from one another to think about, imagine, and describe, the life of plants with critical awareness, conceptual rigor, and ethical sensitivity.
To accomplish our goal, we will first consider how plants have been understood in the history of Western thought, up until the twentieth century. Second, we will try to re-conceptualize them not as objects of theoretical study or practical utility but as subjects in their own right, with a temporality, freedom, and wisdom of their own. Third, we will draw ethical and political implications from our reconsideration of plant life, in an effort to come up with an alternative framework for our engagement with these living beings. Some of the sessions will be paired with artworks meant to exemplify our changing relation to plants.
Topic: What is a plant? The promises and limits of “plant ontology”
Readings: Julien la Mettrie, Man, a Plant; Daniel Chamovitz, “Do Plants Think?”; Michael Marder, “Of Plants, and Other Secrets”
Artists: Mathilde Roussel and Heidi Norton
Topic: Metaphysical approaches to plants. The West’s construction of the vegetal
: Aristotle, De anima (selections) and De plantis (attributed, selections); Hegel, Philosophy of Nature (selections) Readings
Artists: Jan van Huysum, Vincent Van Gogh, and Claude Monet
Topic: Plant existence. The time and freedom of plants
: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Judgment (selections); Martin Heidegger, Being and Time, selections and What is Called Thinking? (selections); Monika Bakke, “Art for plants’ sake?” Readings
Artists: Robert Mapplethorpe and B. Wurtz
Topic: Plant existence, continued. The wisdom of plants
Readings: Michael Marder, “Plant intentionality and the phenomenological framework of plant intelligence”; Anthony Trewavas, “Aspects of plant intelligence”; Richard Karban, “Plant behavior and communication”; Friedrich Nietzsche, selected aphorisms on plants; Novalis, selected aphorisms on plants
Topic: The ethics and politics of plant life
Readings: Michael Marder, “Resist like a plant!”, “If peas can talk, should we eat them?”, “Is plant liberation on the menu?”, “The time is ripe for plant rights”; Swiss Federal Bioethics Commission Report, “The dignity of the living in relation to plants”; Christopher Stone, “Should trees have standing?”
Topic: When philosophy (love of wisdom) is phytophilia (love of plants)…The time for storytelling.
3) Perpetual Peace: The Genealogy of an Idea and its Impact on Contemporary Thought (Faculty: Patrícia Vieira) June 24 – June 29, 2013
In this seminar, we will explore the religious, philosophical, political and literary impact of the utopian ideal of perpetual peace from Classical Antiquity to the present day and consider its applications to politics and the arts. First, we will uncover the theological and philosophical underpinnings of Immanuel Kant’s notion of “perpetual peace,” going back to the writings of Theocritus, Virgil, Ovid, Plato, The Bible, Saint Augustine and religious missionaries to the Americas, who believed that the promised Kingdom of Christ of earth would emerge in the New World. Second, we will discuss the European utopian tradition that emerged during the Renaissance with Thomas More, Tommaso Campanella and Francis Bacon.
We will then turn to the formulation of the notion of perpetual peace, which stands at the confluence of
Europe’s Greco-Roman ideal of the Golden Age and of the Judeo-Christian notion of an Earthly Paradise. We will read in this context Charles-Irenée Castel de Saint Pierre’s A Project for Setting an Everlasting Peace in Europe, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Project for a Perpetual Peace, Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch and Jeremy Bentham’s A Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace
In the final section of the seminar we will take a closer look at the secularized notion of perpetual peace and its use in political discourse and practices. What can a multipolar world comprised of distinct power blocks learn from the vision of universal peace? How can the contemporary multicultural world reaffirm its promise of peace and good governance on a global scale? And can this promise become not only a normative ideal but also a concrete blueprint for the new world order, so desperately needed today?We will assess the relevance of perpetual peace to global governance and its influence in the Charter of the United Nations. Further, we will see how this notion has been adopted and transformed by thinkers such as Hannah Arendt, Jürgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida. Finally, we will address the impact of the ideal of perpetual peace in literature, film and in ecology with Aldous Huxley’s novel
Islandand James Cameron’s film Avatar.
Topic: Introduction & The Classical Golden Age
: Theocritus, Virgil and Ovid (selections) Readings
, Apocalypse and Messianism Eden
Readings: Genesis and Book of Revelation (selections), Saint Augustin’s The City of God (selections), Selected writings by New World Missionaries
Arcadiaand to Utopia Eden
: Plato’s Republic, Timeus and Critias (selections); Thomas More’s Utopia (selections); Tommaso Campanella’s The City of the Sun (selections); Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis Readings
Topic: Perpetual Peace as an Enlightenment Ideal
: Charles-Irenée Castel de Saint Pierre’s A Project for Setting an Everlasting Peace in Europe; Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Project for a Perpetual Peace; Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch; Jeremy Bentham’s A Plan for an Universal and Perpetual Peace Readings
Topic: The Aftermath of Perpetual Peace: Philosophy and Politics
: Charter of the United Nations; Hannah Arendt’s Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy (selections); Jürgen Habermas’s “Kant's Idea of Perpetual Peace: At Two Hundred Years' Historical Remove”; Jacques Derrida’s “Hostipitality” Readings
Topic: The Aftermath of Perpetual Peace: Literature, Cinema and Ecology
Reading & Film: Aldous Huxley’s
Island; James Cameron’s Avatar
4) Translation, Comparatism and the Vernacularin the Context of Postcolonial Studies
(Faculty: S. Shankar) July 1 – July 6, 2013
This course makes an intervention in postcolonial studies through three linked themes: the vernacular, translation, and comparatism. It explores the vernacular as a critical category capable of drawing attention to disregarded aspects of postcolonial societies. It approaches translation from the vantage point of theory (as the subject of metadiscursive rumination) and of practice (as the painstaking transference of a text from one language to another or, more generally, from one medium to another). It approaches comparatism theoretically, exploring the philosophical arguments that have been made for and against comparatism. How is it possible to engage in an act of cross-cultural comparison without subjecting one side to the dominant ideas of the other? Is comparison conceivable without an underlying universalist foundation? Such are some of the vexing questions at the heart of the modern project of comparatism. As these questions only begin to suggest, translation and comparatism are intimately linked topics. An act of translation is an act of comparison; and comparatism all too often depends on translation. Together they are indispensable tools for the exploration of the vernacular in postcolonial contexts.
This course, then, is an introduction to recent vital debates in postcolonial studies. The texts we will read mostly pertain to literary and cultural theory or to philosophy but have been selected so as to enable discussion across fields, schools of thought and periods. While the focus of the course is on postcolonialism, some readings that do not speak directly to the postcolonial situation have been included because of their influential nature. At the end of the course, the participants will have a rich understanding of the vernacular, translation and comparatism as they pertain to the study of postcolonial societies. Throughout, the course will aim to generate avenues of inquiry and methods of research in a manner that is of practical use to the course participants.
Topic: Introduction: Postcolonial Theory and the Vernacular
: S. Shankar, Flesh and Fish Blood (first three chapters); Ania Loomba, from Colonialism/Postcolonialism Readings
Topic: The Vernacular: Limits, Opportunities, and Comparisons
Readings: Linda Tuhiwai Smith, from Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples; Sheldon Pollock, “Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in History”; Francesca Orsini, “India in the Mirror of World Fiction”;Kwame Anthony Appiah, from Cosmopolitanism; Martha Nussbaum, “Patriotism and Cosmopolitanism”; Dipesh Chakraborty, from Provincializing Europe
Topic: Translation Theory
Readings: Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator”; Roman Jakobson, “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation”; Lori Chamberlain, “Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation”; LawrenceVenuti, “Translation, Community, Utopia”; Jacques Derrida, “The Towers of ” Babel
Topic: Translation in a Postcolonial Context
: Eric Cheyfitz, from The Poetics of Imperialism; Tejaswini Niranjana, from Siting Translation; Edward Said, “Embargoed Literature”; Gayatri Spivak, “The Politics of Translation”; S. Shankar, “The ‘Problem’ of Translation” (ch. 4 of Flesh and Fish Blood) Readings
Topic: Comparatism: Methods and Philosophical Debates
: R. Radhakrishnan, “Why Compare?”; Rey Chow “The Old/New Question of Comparison in Literary Studies”; Robert Stam and Ella Shohat, “Transnationalizing Comparison: The Uses and Abuses of Cross-Cultural Analogy”; Mary Layoun, “Endings and Beginnings: Reimagining the Tasks and Spaces of Comparison”; Ania Loomba, “Race and the Possibilities of Comparative Critique” Readings
Topic: Comparatism as Materialist Critique / Concluding Thoughts
Readings: Chandra Talpade Mohanty “‘Under Western Eyes’ Revisited”;Gayatri Spivak, “Rethinking Comparativism”; Pheng Cheah, “The Material World of Comparison”; S. Shankar, “Postcolonialism andComparatism” (ch. 5 of Flesh and Fish Blood)
5) Anima, Animation and Action (Faculty: Arjun Appadurai & Gabika Bockaj) July 8 – July 13, 2013
This module explores how ideas of soul and persona underlie different conceptions of humanity and sociality. Recent approaches to this topic have cast new light on the man/machine boundary. These approaches lay the foundation for a new framework in which to study the ideas of intention, agency, and interaction in social life, recognizing that humans, animals and machines cohabit a shared social world.
The background to this module is Appadurai’s own 1986 book, The Social Life of Things, which outlined a new comparative approach to commodities, combining the views of Marx and Marcel Mauss, each of whom emphasized the ways in which material things could take on magical form in social transactions between human beings. This point of view has been considerably expanded by Bruno Latour, who, in a series of writings over the last two decades, has developed a major theory called Actor Network Theory, which provides an alternative foundation for sociology, by placing a primary emphasis on the agency of objects and their capacity to act on their own, once they have been manufactured and animated by technical energies and protocols. Among these works is Latour’s seminal essay called “Where Are The Missing Masses”, his books called We Have Never Been Modern (1993) and Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (2005). More recently, political theorists, such as Jane Bennett, have been exploring the implications of material and technological forces to shape complex problems of democracy, power and collective life (Bennett, Vibrant Matter: A Political Ecology of Things, 2010) and critics of visual culture have begun to ask, following W.J.T. Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want: The Lives and Loves of Images (1998).
We will consider this variety of readings in regard to the problem of animation, agency and sociality by drawing on the foundational ideas of Aristotle on the soul in his classic work De Anima, Hannah Arendt’s conception of action as outlined in The Human Condition (1958), and Gilles Deleuze’s ideas about the desiring machine and the assemblage (Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 1987).
Study material will be made available to the participants after their registration; the participants are expected to have gone through the material before the commencement of the Course. Each participant is required to maintain a day-to-day critical account of the sessions in an academic diary which will be submitted to the director of the program at the end. In addition, each participant is required to make at least one formal presentation. Both faculty and participants are expected to stay together in the same venue for greater interaction and exchange between them.
Participation in the Course is mainly open to scholars in the humanities and social sciences, preferably those working toward research degree, but post-graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in these disciplines and scholars from the disciplines outside the humanities and social sciences interested in inter-disciplinary studies can also apply. Maximum number of participants to be selected is 35.
Each participant is required to pay a registration fee of Rs. 10,000/- (Rupees ten thousand only) to the Forum on Contemporary Theory through a bank draft drawn on a bank in
. The registration fee is non-refundable. The fee will take care of his/her board and lodging, cost of course material and other related expenses. The participants will not be paid by the organizers for their travel. Baroda
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION
The last date for receiving application for participation is 31 March, 2013. The application may be sent to Director, Centre for Contemporary Theory,
. Selection for participation will be made by April 5, 2013. Selected candidates are required to send the bank draft favoring Forum on Contemporary Theory before April 15, 2013. Course material will be mailed only after receiving the registration fee. Baroda
a) Dilip Gaonkar is an Associate Professor in Rhetoric and Public Culture and the Director of Center for Global Culture and Communication at
. He is also the Director of Center for Transcultural Studies, an independent scholarly research network concerned with global issues. He was closely associated with the journal, Public Culture, serving as the Executive Editor (2000-2009) and as Editor (2009-2011). Gaonkar has two sets of scholarly interests: rhetoric as an intellectual tradition, both its ancient roots and its contemporary mutations; and, global modernities and their impact on the political. He has published numerous essays on rhetoric, including “The Idea of Rhetoric in the Rhetoric of Science” that was published along with ten critical responses to the essay in a book, Rhetorical Hermeneutics: Invention and Interpretation in the Age of Science, edited by Alan G. Gross and William Keith (1996). Gaonkar has edited a series books on global cultural politics: Globaizing American Studies (with Brian Edwards, 2010), Alternative Modernities (2001), and Disciplinarity and Dissent in Cultural Studies (1995). He has also edited several special issues of journals: Laclau’s On Populist Reason (with Robert Hariman, for Cultural Studies, 2012), Cultures of Democracy (for Public Culture, 2007), Commitments in a Post-Foundational World (with Keith Topper, 2005), Technologies of Public Persuasion (with Elizabeth Povinelli, 2003), and New Imaginaries (with Benjamin Lee, 2002). He is currently working on a book manuscript on Modernity, Democracy and the Politics of Disorder. Northwestern University
b) Michael Marder is IKERBASQUE Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz. He is the author of books and numerous articles in phenomenology, political philosophy, and environmental thought. He is an editorial associate of the journal Telos and the editor of book series Political Theory and Contemporary Philosophy at
Bloomsbury; Critical Plant Studies at Rodopi; and the co-editor of Palgrave Studies in Postmetaphysical Thought. His most recent monograph is Plant-Thinking: A Philosophy of Vegetal Life. His website is www.michaelmarder.org.
c) Patrícia Vieira teaches at the Department of Spanish & Portuguese, the Comparative Literature and the Film and Media Studies programs of
. She is the author of Seeing Politics Otherwise: Vision in Latin American and Iberian Fiction ( Georgetown University Toronto: , 2011); Portuguese Film 1930-1960. The Staging of the Universityof Toronto Press New StateRegime ( Lisbon: Colibri, 2011; forthcoming with Bloomsbury Press in 2013); and co-editor of Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought ( New Yorkand : Continuum, 2011). London
d) S. Shankar is Professor of English and the former Director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the
, Manoa. He is a novelist, critic, and translator whose work has appeared in a wide variety of venues. His novels A Map of Where I Live and No End to the Journey appeared in 1997 and 2005 respectively (a Spanish translation of the latter has since appeared); he has also translated two works from Tamil into English: the full-length Tamil play Water! and the Universityof Hawaii Krishnadevotional “Alaipaayuthey.” Shankar’s critical books are Textual Traffic: Colonialism, Modernity, and the Economy of the Text (SUNY Press, 2001) and Flesh and Fish Blood: Translation, Postcolonialism, and the Vernacular (2012, U of California P; South Asiaedition from Orient Blackswan). He is also co-editor of the widely adopted anthology Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration (New Press, 2003). Shankar’s scholarly articles, poems, reviews, and literary essays have appeared in such academic journals and popular venues as PMLA, Cultural Critique, Tin House, Review, Outlook, The Hindu, Pioneer, Village Voice, and The Nation. He received his graduate degrees from Massachusetts Madras Universityand the Universityof Texas, . Austin
e) Arjun Appadurai is the Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at
. He is a prominent contemporary social-cultural anthropologist, having formerly served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at The New School in NYC. He has held various professorial chairs and visiting appointments at the New York University Universityof Pennsylvania, Universityof Chicago, , and The New School University. In addition, he is a founding editor of Public Culture, one of the most influential cross-disciplinary journals, and has served on several scholarly and advisory bodies in the Yale University United States, Latin America, Europe and . Dr. Appadurai’s books include Fear of Small Numbers (Duke UP, 2006), Globalization (Duke UP, 2001), Modernity at Large (U. Minnesota, 1996), The Social Life of Things (Cambridge UP, 1986), and Worship and Conflict Under Colonial Rule: A South Indian Case (Cambridge UP, 1981). The nature and significance of his contributions throughout his academic career have earned him the reputation as a leading figure in his fields. India
f) Gabika Bockaj is a doctoral student in Anthropology at the
Johns Hopkins University, . Baltimore
The participants are required to attend all the sessions and to stay until the end of the program in order to get the certificate of participation.
The following format may be used for the application:
Address (including telephone no. and email ID)
Date of Birth
Teaching Experience (indicate number of years also)
Areas of Research and Teaching
Publications, if any
Specific Research Topics, if any
Whether registered for Research Degree?
Whether participated in any Course organized by the Forum? If participated, when?
A brief statement (200 words) about what you expect to gain from the Course
Name and Addresses of two Referees
ADDRESS FOR CORRESPONDENCE
Prafulla C. Kar
Director, Centre for Contemporary Theory
C-304 Siddhi Vinayak Complex
Behind Vadodara Railway Station (Alkapuri Side)
Faramji Road, Vadodara – 390007
Department of English
Department of English