Date: 6th May, 2014
Time: 4 - 5.15pm
Venue: Building 24, Copland, Room 1171, LJ Hume Centre
Speaker: Sanjay Seth is Professor of Politics at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is also Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Studies. He has written extensively on postcolonial theory, social and political theory, and modern Indian history, including Subject Lessons: The Western Education of Colonial India (Duke UP 2007 and OUP India 2008) and (as editor) Postcolonial Theory and International Relations: A Critical Introduction (Routledge 2013). He is a founding co-editor of Postcolonial Studies (1998-).
Paper Title: Modernity and its Knowledges
Paper Abstract: This paper asks a series of very direct, if not simple, questions. How and why is it that we assume that modern knowledge is universal, despite its European genealogy and its historically recent provenance? What warrant do we have for considering this superior to the pre-modern knowledges of the West, and the autochthonous knowledges of the non-West? Are we, in short, right to assume that modern Western knowledge transcends the circumstances of its historical and geographical emergence and thus that the social sciences are ‘true’ for everyone – even though to do so is to privilege the modern and the western, over the pre-modern and the non-Western? In addressing these questions this essay highlights the exclusions – of gods and spirits, and of nature- that have gone into the constitution of the concept of ‘the social’, a taken-for-granted object which provides the ground and the subject matter for the social sciences.