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Political Thinking at the Margins Conference

April 6-7, 2017
University of Virginia
 
THIS TWO DAY CONFERENCE brings together established and emerging scholars of colonialism, settler-colonialism, and race for a discussion of law, violence, borders, war, property, sovereignty, the global, and the humanities in different contexts around the globe. While our approach is interdisciplinary and comparative, we acknowledge challenges to Western canons and to the “comparative” turn in the humanities; and we are also mindful that comparison is a political activity that may reinforce existing distinctions between West and non-West, settler and native, white and non-white, civilized and uncivilized, and so forth. Accordingly, the conference seeks to elicit connections and understand the disconnections between bodies of thought that have, in contemporary academic formations, remained distinct.
 

The explosive growth of the global humanities in recent decades has produced new interest in non-European thought and contexts and in practices of comparative political thinking. While this conference acknowledges, indeed celebrates, these challenges to Western canons and questions, we are mindful that comparison is a political activity that may reinforce existing distinctions between West and non-West, settler and native, white and non-white, civilized and uncivilized, and so forth. Accordingly, the conference approaches marginal political thinking as a series of questions: What comparisons animate the political ideas of colonized thinkers? What new questions does considering thinkers who write from different positions of marginalization—colonization, occupation, conquest, re-settlement, enslavement—open up for understanding global power formations today? What is the role of the humanities in sustaining and/or challenging these forms of marginalization?

This multidisciplinary event is designed to explore the political, cultural, legal, and aesthetic dimensions of political thinking—understood capaciously—as it is expressed or practiced in, from, or about “marginalized” contexts, whether globally, locally, or regionally. Our aim is to initiate a conversation about a range of concepts, questions, practices, and aspirations that are often separated by disciplinary boundaries, regional expertise, and institutional divisions. To enable this conversation, we have conceived of five sessions—Vernaculars of Law and Violence, Bordering on War, Properties of Property, Rethinking Sovereignty and Self-Determination, and Humanities at the Margins—in which we aim to elicit connections, and understand the disconnections, between contexts, subjecthoods, and bodies of thought from around the world. Conference presenters will prepare remarks of 10-12 minutes, speaking to a broad audience, under the rubric of one of the five sessions.

The conference aims to generate a wide-ranging reflection on these questions by leading scholars from Area Studies departments, Anthropology, Comparative Literature, English, Global Studies, History, Sociology, Political Theory, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and other fields. At the same time, we are committed to making the event as inclusive as possible, maximizing opportunities for the participation of students and members of the UVA community. 

Compass Rose

Organizers

Murad Idris
Department of Politics

Lawrie Balfour
Department of Politics
American Studies Program

Sandhya Shukla
Department of English
American Studies Program

For inquiries about the conference,
please contact Daniel Henry