Friday, 9 March 2012

Genealogies of Colonial Violence Conference, University of Cambridge, UK, 1-2 June 2012

Genealogies of Colonial Violence: Conference held at the Centre of South Asian Studies and the Centre for African Studies, University of Cambridge, U.K.
June 1-2, 2012

This two-day conference seeks to move past the standard debates that continue to dominate both public discourses and much scholarly research regarding violence and colonialism. This conference aims to bring together interdisciplinary researchers to suggest alternative interpretations, theoretical approaches, and future avenues of research relating to violence and colonialism. Proposals are welcome from established academics, early-career researchers and graduate students in the humanities and social sciences that work on colonialism and its postcolonial legacies in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The conference will feature a keynote address by Professor Achille Mbembe (University of Witwatersrand).

Potential avenues of exploration include, but are no means limited to:
- How can we use the colonial experience to rethink and refashion categories of thought dominant in the western academy and its established disciplines? How do colonial experiences subvert a notion like sovereignty?
- How ideas of the human informed colonial violence.
- Universalism, ambivalence, and the colonial encounter.
- Was, and in what ways, colonial subjugation self-validating?
- Whether the recent historiographical turn to discourses and representations has come at the expense of the material. How violence constituted relationships between colonial subjects, the market, and global capitalism.
- Colonialism, violence, and the production of modern political subjects.
- Cultural and political meanings of the excess inherent to all violence.
- How did foreign control of the state produce alternative constructions of the political? That is, how was the right to take life and to protect life thought beyond the boundaries of the state? Was death rather than the protection of life the central category of political thought in the colonial context?
- Ways to rethink the relationships between violence and colonial law.
- How to write an intellectual history of colonial violence.
- The legacies of colonial violence and the making of a postcolonial order.
- How to read state archives of violence and colonialism.
- Aesthetics, language, and violence.

Paper proposals of no more than 300 words should be sent to Sunil Purushotham and Derek Elliott at no later than April 10, 2012. Successful applicants will be notified no later than April 15, 2012. For more information and updates, please visit us at:

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