The subject of our conference is nowhere and everywhere: amidst global networks of human movement, inhabiting landscapes to be bombed back to the ‘stone age,’ and heard in the concrete breathing of our next door neighbour. It is a figure that is simultaneously adversarial and intimate—the figure of the Enemy.
Beginning with recent debates about the role played by the friend-enemy opposition in the nature of the ‘political’ in the colonial and postcolonial world, this conference explores the concept of the enemy as it disrupts and constitutes discourses of the state, religion, violence, and identity. Who, where, or what is the ‘Enemy’? Whether we speak of the torture cells of Guantánamo Bay today, trials of witchcraft in colonial Kenya, the terror of the state under Pinochet, or the deafening silence on the streets of Gujarat in 2002, there is a serious need for us to reflect on the status of the figure of the Enemy. What is that precise space in the discourse of the community, the state, and the law, which allows, even necessitates, politics to reach its end, to claim impunity for acts that are fundamentally against the ‘political’ itself?
This conference is an attempt to find ways of thinking about the enemy’s formative role in the discourses of the political, in the making of a collectivity, in the formations of intimate violence, in the margins of the law, and the limits of our friendship.
Possible areas of exploration could include (although not restricted to) the following:
- How is history used to produce the enemy and what role does it play in the formation of the state, society, and the self?
- What are the everyday practices that constitute difference as animosity? What is the nature of alterity that comes to define the enemy?
- What are the spaces where the distinction between the political and the feared Other become indeterminate?
- Where does the politics of friendship figure in the constitution of the enemy?
This graduate conference will be held during the September 25th and 26th, 2009, as part of the Colonial/Postcolonial Workshop at Emory University. Graduate students from all social science and humanities disciplines and areas are encouraged to apply. Travel and lodging for selected participants will be covered by Emory University. Keynote speaker will be William E. Connolly, Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University. To apply please send a 300-word abstract along with your name, institutional affiliation, address and contact number to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 20, 2009. Notifications will be sent out by May 2009 and final papers will be due by August 31, 2009.
Colonial/Postcolonial Seminar Series
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