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Professor Martina Ghosh-Schellhorn's visit, March 2016:

Photo of Martina Ghosh-SchellhornThe Department of English and Linguistics, the Postcolonial Studies Research Network, and the Centre for Research on Colonial Culture were pleased to host Professor Martina Ghosh-Schellhorn, Saarland University, Saarbrücken, Germany, from 14-18 March, 2016. Professor Ghosh-Schellhorn holds the Inaugural Chair in Transcultural Anglophone Studies at Saarland University. Her wide-ranging research areas include literary and cultural studies, popular culture, intermediality, popular and art-house film, diaspora studies, memory studies, museology, material culture, pedagogy and curriculum development and the canon.

While at Otago, Professor Ghosh-Schellhorn gave two presentations:

Open lecture Re-Configuring Government Houses: Virtual Models and Life-Worlds in Transcultural Perspective

This talk concerns a fresh approach to visualizing cultural heritage in a Transcultural Anglophone Studies (TAS) context. In collaboration with Artificial Intelligence experts, we have undertaken research into the material history of Empire so as to re-visit received historiographies with an aim to revising them in the light of contemporary analytical tools. The focus is on British Government Houses in transcultural perspective.

What was it like to live in a British Government House? I would like to use TAS's xml 3D virtual model of Government House Calcutta (1803-) to demonstrate the advantages of using computer technology to support research into the field of colonial architecture by incorporating into it evidence of the various life-worlds found here. Besides taking a virtual 360o -tour of the building and its grounds, we will also be zooming in to one of its most representative interiors, the Throne Room. Accompanying us on our tour are a selection of the epistolary, autobiographical, as well as pictorial materials left us by the former incumbents of the House, the objects that they chose to be surrounded by, and the current use to which this still-functioning edifice is being put.

Open seminar Representing the 'Beautiful Forevers': Subaltern Lives Straight From the Page to the Stage?

This talk, freely borrowed as its title is from Katherine Boo's National Book Award winner, Behind the Beautiful Forevers (2012), seeks to address the problematic field of the so-called 'Third World' slum. I will be looking at Boo's text as a project that sets out to (re-)present, for a 'global' readership, the lives of these Others, before moving to a recent example of another 'global' project: the much praised Behind the Beautiful Forevers as scripted by David Hare and performed by the National Theatre (Nov. 2014 - April 2015). What, we could ask, are the consequences when Boo's narrative about Mumbai slum 'dwellers' [sic] is adapted for a mainstream British stage? Should we join the critics in their almost unanimous praise of a successful and, moreover, prescient transcultural stage production that claims to be 'epic theatre'? What exactly are the implications of this packaging for consumption of subaltern life-narratives?

Colonial Attritions: State Violence and Social Forgetting symposium, 5 August 2015

Keynote Speaker: Professor Sherene Razack (University of Toronto)

Whilst formal colonisation has ended in many settler states, colonial ways of knowing and exercising authority continue in the violent policing and incarceration of Indigenous and minority communities in these states.

This one-day symposium seeks presentations that call for an account of state violence and a remembrance of imperial and colonial histories and their embodied, everyday effects.

Call for papers

Abstracts accepted until 17 July 2015

Download details of the symposium and the call for papers.

Space, Race, Bodies Conference, 8-10 December 2014, University of Otago

The Postcolonial Studies Research Network co-sponsored the Space, Race, Bodies—Geocorpographies of the City, Nation and Empire Conference hosted by the Department of Media, Film and Communication (U. Otago), the Somatechnics Research Network (U. Arizona), and the Sexuality Research Group (U. Otago).

Visiting Scholar, Dr Joanne Faulkner (Philosophy, School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales)

In October-November, 2014, the Network hosted its first Visiting Scholar, Dr Joanne Faulkner (Philosophy, School of Humanities and Languages, University of New South Wales). Jo was based in the Department of English and Linguistics during her stay, and presented an Open Lecture, 'Suffer Little Children: Reading Responses to Aboriginal Disadvantage with Sade,' on Thursday 13 November.; as well as a Masterclass, 'Looking at the Postcolonial through the Lens of Psychoanalysis,' on Friday 14 November, attended by postgraduate students and early career researchers from a number of departments at Otago.

Open Lecture Abstract

In recent years — and especially since the tabling of Bringing Them Home in 1997 — Aboriginal disadvantage has come to be most readily and sympathetically viewed through the figure of the wounded Aboriginal child. This paper considers the ascendency of the child as emblem of indigenous suffering in relation to the demands placed upon this arena by white colonial subjectivity and the peculiarities of Australian understandings of nationhood in relation to 'the child.' Specifically, the paper argues that the child figure as a locus of indigenous suffering fosters public sympathy successfully, while also suppressing white guilt; such that, far from intervening in Aboriginal disadvantage, we have even seen indigenous affairs degenerate through an investment in the wounded child.

In order to explore this idea, Sade's account of the universal exchangeability of individuals will be brought into dialogue with Rousseau's account of pity, through which, it is conventionally understood, sympathy is promoted. In the light of Sade's critical account of sympathy and the role of testimony in Justine, what lessons might we draw about the limits of the child figure in promoting self-determination for indigenous people? And does it go too far to suggest that this figure even enables white Australians to derive a pleasure from Aboriginal suffering, albeit in 'good conscience'?

Masterclass description

Download Masterclass description (PDF, 102KB)

Disaster! - A Symposium, 27-29 November 2013

Keynote speakers

  • Professor Rob Nixon (U. Wisconsin - Madison)
  • Professor Anne McClintock (U. Wisconsin - Madison)
  • Associate Professor Steve Matthewman (U. Auckland)

Call for Papers

Catastrophic storms, earthquakes, floods, and fires, along with such forms of 'slow violence' as pollution, deforestation, global warming and rising sea levels, are increasingly drawing attention to the vulnerability of local populations and landscapes to 'natural disasters'. Postcolonial environmental studies, ecocriticism, and disaster studies often trace such events to the ecological, social and economic effects of First World - driven development ideologies and projects. Storms, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires have seemingly been increasing in frequency and intensity around the world in recent years, revealing the Global North as not only implicated in the South's disasters, but also as not immune themselves to disasters that bring destruction, loss of life, and hardship. What do postcolonial perspectives contribute to analysis of such events or conditions, and/or what do these events or conditions say to the current and future priorities of postcolonial studies?

The Postcolonial Studies Research Network invites papers, from any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective, that consider 'disaster' in terms of either specific events, or the slower forms of environmental devastation — and their social and cultural consequences — affecting countries and communities around the world. We especially welcome papers that consider Australasia and the larger Asia-Pacific region.

Papers may address any of a wide range of issues and questions that bear on the topic of 'Disaster !' including:

  • the relations between 'natural' events and human agency
  • the spatial and/or geopolitical and economic terms through which disasters are produced, recognised and responded to
  • the uneven distribution of vulnerability
  • the politics and effects of special measures and authorities, states of emergency and exception
  • the mediatisation of disaster and/or the media prioritisation of the spectacle over the long-term or systemic disaster
  • the production or exacerbation of social disadvantage or exclusion in disaster or disaster response
  • discourses of resilience, recovery and rebuilding
  • the mainstreaming of 'sustainability' discourses
  • discourses of victimhood, of community
  • social networks and social media/networking
  • cultural or creative visions of, or responses to disaster

Masterclass with Professor Susannah Radstone: 'Memory and Trauma', 6-7 Dec 2012

The University of Otago Postcolonial Studies Research Network is pleased to announce its fourth Masterclass, “Sharing the Unshareable: Debates in Memory and Trauma Studies,” led by Professor Susannah Radstone.

The concept of empathy lies at the heart of recent research in memory and trauma studies: it informs theories of testimony and witnessing and is mobilized in cultural analyses. But although certain approaches to trauma and empathy are frequently cited, much remains to be thought through. The Masterclass will focus on some of the following issues:

  • How do different approaches to trauma, memory and empathy conceive of what can and cannot be shared?
  • What difference does our approach to these questions make to our analyses and readings of culture?
  • How do our different locations (ethnicity, location, class, culture etc.), however hybrid, inform our theoretical positions on these issues?

This Masterclass will provide a forum for exploring shared research interests in questions of memory, trauma and empathy across the Humanities and Social Sciences. It will give participants the opportunity for sustained engagement with the work of influential scholars in the field, guided by Professor Radstone. There will also be limited opportunity for participants to meet with her individually to discuss their own work.

  • 6 December 2012: 5.00pm – 6.00pm: Public Lecture: The Place Where We Live: Mirrors, Memory and The Secret River (Susannah Radstone)
    • 6.00pm – 8.00pm: Reception for Masterclass participants
    • 8.00pm – 10.00pm: Screening of Hidden/Caché (Michael Haneke)
  • 7 December 2012: 10.00am - 5.00pm: Masterclass

Citizenship in an Era of Global Crisis

University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
28-30 November 2011

Keynote Speakers

  • Joseph Pugliese - Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University
  • Tracey McIntosh - Department of Sociology, University of Auckland
  • Greg Noble - Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney

We are today witnessing the biopolitical re-ordering of the world and various aspects of life in and through the notion of citizenship. This re-ordering is evident in such processes and instances as the 'war on terror,' the protests and violence in the Middle East, the outsourcing of labour, the movement of refugees and migrants, the construction of camps within nation-states, the increased policing of borders, and the imposition of techniques of governmentality.

At the same time, we are also witnessing various challenges, predicated on specific notions of citizenship, which seek to rethink established, dominant conceptions of belonging: the struggles of indigenous communities, protest communities, and other marginalised and exploited peoples testify to the project of reconstituting how we might think of citizenship in the era of unprecedented crisis — financial, food, water, political, social, cultural, territorial, environmental and so on.

Citizenship further invokes concerns about the forms of violence enacted through, because of, and by the idea of citizenship, and the protests, as well as resistances and struggles that have emerged out of discontent with articulations of citizenship, impelled by a desire to redefine what we mean by citizenship. 'Citizenship in the Era of Global Crisis' is, in other words, a call to explore the ways in which citizenship is used and abused variously from disciplining quotidian cultural practices to fostering the grounds for social protests and legitimating killing.

In short, the role, conception, articulation and dissemination of citizenship has fundamental consequences in the globalised world today. In order to explore the multiple social, cultural, political and economic contexts within which these concerns are articulated, the conference was open to a range of disciplinary perspectives and approaches. Possible topics included, but were not limited to:

  • National(ist) Culture
  • Multiculturalism/ Biculturalism
  • The International Division of Labour
  • Borders
  • Law
  • Indigenous Struggles
  • The State
  • Activism
  • Environment
  • Resources
  • Gender
  • Open Media

Vulnerability: A Symposium

26-28 Nov 2010
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Rosalyn Diprose (UNSW)
  • Dr. Rebecca Stringer (Otago)
  • Professor Ewa Ziarek (SUNY Buffalo)

What is it to be human? Western thought since Aristotle has by and large responded to this question by defining the human as animal rationale, a definition that saw its heyday during the Enlightenment, when reason was believed to herald human sovereignty: freedom from the gods and control over the world of objects. Implicitly challenging such long-standing conceptions, much recent scholarly work on the phenomenology of embodiment has instead emphasised our inextricable dependence on the world outside ourselves. Judith Butler, for example, argues in her latest book, Frames of War (Verso 2009), that the human body "is exposed to others, vulnerable by definition" and, as such, "must rely on what is outside itself." This fundamental dependence on exteriority shatters any illusions of human sovereignty, freedom or control: "To live is always to live a life that is at risk from the outset and can be put at risk or expunged quite suddenly from the outside and for reasons that are not always under one's control." To be human, in this conception, is thus not so much to be animal rationale as animal vulnerabilis.

How does one live when one's life is permanently at risk? How does this risk manifest itself and how do we respond to it? Or, perhaps more simply, how do we live with our own vulnerability?

A decade into the new millennium, we are arguably more than ever forced to front up to these questions. Instead of having confidently conquered, domesticated and made serviceable our worldly domain, we are daily reminded of our dependence on that domain for survival. Whether it is the global economic crisis or the deepening ecological crisis and its various recent disasters (Haiti, Samoa, New Orleans, to name but a few): we are exposed and vulnerable to forces beyond our control and typically respond to such exposure and vulnerability with fear. Clambering for full body armor (metaphorical as well as actual), we go into battle against a wide range of real or imagined threats: illness, pollution, terrorists, killer flu viruses, alien invasions. Listening to daily news reports about "homeland security" and food safety, not to mention campaigns to save the environment or, more ambitiously, the planet, we do everything we can to keep (some) humans safe. Problematically, however, this fixation on our own safety tends to come at a cost, and this cost is the growing violence against even more vulnerable "others": Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, the MS Tampa Affair, the Northern Territory Intervention and the Urewera Raids are only a few of the growing list of proper names that call up scenes of unspeakable violence against humans at their most vulnerable.

How, then, can we perhaps live otherwise with our own vulnerability? How can we find the confidence and imagination to overcome our fear and invest in animal vulnerabilis as an enabling human condition? How can we argue, as many thinkers associated with the recent "ethical turn" in critical theory have done, that our vulnerability is the condition of possibility for social justice?

This symposium seeks to canvas a range of contemporary responses to, and analyses of, the question of human vulnerability. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • vulnerability and the body
  • vulnerability and biotechnology
  • vulnerability and biopower
  • vulnerability and climate change
  • vulnerability and global capital
  • vulnerability and the virtual
  • vulnerability and violence
  • vulnerability and survival
  • the vulnerability of skin (black skin? white skin?)
  • vulnerability as a human condition vs. specific vulnerability (of children, colonized peoples, prisoners, those without cultural capital, etc.)
  • vulnerability and ethics
  • vulnerability as foundation for social justice
  • vulnerability and disability studies
  • vulnerability and aesthetics
  • vulnerability vs. victimhood
  • vulnerability as a postcolonial concern?
  • the vulnerability of power/the power of vulnerability
  • vulnerability and agency
  • vulnerability and trauma studies
  • vulnerability and terror
  • vulnerability and death
  • vulnerability and creativity
  • vulnerability and the work of Agamben | Arendt | Butler| Deleuze | Derrida | Foucault | Heidegger | Laclau |Levinas | Merleau-Ponty | Mouffe |

Download a copy of the programme. (PDF 820KB)

'The New Exotic? Postcolonialism and Globalization' Conference

24-26 June, 2009
University of Otago

Keynote Speakers:

  • Professor Robert J.C. Young, New York University
  • Professor Graham Huggan, University of Leeds
  • Associate Professor Susie O'Brien, McMaster University

Download a copy of the programme. (PDF 134KB)

About the Conference

Postcolonial theory and criticism have consistently pointed to the exploitative and oppressive effects of exoticism in relation to the (post)colonised world: where Edward Said's account of orientalism as a mode of perception facilitated extensive postcolonial critiques of colonial as well as more recent constructions of 'the exotic,' contemporary work also takes account of the global late-capitalist system in which these exoticist discourses circulate. However, while the notion of the exotic has been subjected to rigorous postcolonial critique, it persists in both popular and institutional constructions of culture and cultural difference. Is this the persistence of old exoticisms, or are there new forms, objects, modes of circulation?

An exoticist perspective constitutes 'the other' as the domesticated and known other, positing the lure of difference while assimilating its object to the circuits of consumption (of ideas, experiences, objects, images, and so on). It constructs the other, or projects otherness, from the point of view of the hegemonic Same, the known, the familiar. What, then, is the fate of the other, of otherness? As the global economy has shifted towards an emphasis on consumption, information, services and experiences — such as tourism, domestic or abroad — and towards a need to market not only products but even nations for 'difference', we are daily addressed through, and incited to participate in, exoticist discourses. Even postcolonial practices in teaching and research are susceptible to complicity with the exoticism it supposedly critiques.

This conference seeks to investigate the various ways exoticism functions across a wide range of social, political, cultural and ecological domains. We ask such questions as: Why do exoticist practices and discourses persist in the face of postcolonial critique? Are these discourses sustained and circulated through old or new mechanisms? Is there, perhaps, anything enabling or agential for the (post)colonised in mobilising discourses of the exotic? How can places, foods, fashion and experiences continue to be marketed as 'exotic,' or through appeal to 'the exotic,' despite a growing awareness of the dangers of such marketing? What politics underlie the embrace or proscription of exotic plants and animals; how do nostalgia, aesthetics, ecology, environmentalism and bio-security inflect these stances? Who, what or where are the new objects of exoticist discourses? How has exoticism inflected discourses of sexuality? How does exoticism signify differently through trans-national communications circuits and flows of images and products, and at nation-state borders? How does globalisation point to both total access and knowability, and the allure of exotic otherness? What other forms of otherness remain possible within this politico-semiotic economy? How does exoticism relate to the increasing hybridity of populations and cultures, as well as plant and animal biological forms? After colonial discourses of degeneration with transplantation of 'exotics', what discourses pertain today relating to 'transplantation', to subjects of migration and diaspora? Have practices in postcolonial studies theory and research overcome the complicity of that field with notions of exoticism, or do they continue to underlie or haunt the field?

Papers from across the disciplines, including interdisciplinary work,address aspects of the topic of the postcolonial exotic,such as:

  • The persistence of colonial forms of exoticism, or exoticist practices, discourses
  • The contemporary emergence of new forms, practices or discourses of exoticism
  • The adequacy or otherwise of postcolonial theory or critique to intervene in and subvert exoticist discourses
  • Contemporary circuits of exoticist representations
  • Exoticism and indigeneity
  • The relation of exoticism to other forms of difference, otherness
  • The politics of the exotic as applied to plants and animals
  • Desires or affects of the exotic; exoticism/eroticism; fetishism
  • Banal vs. spectacular exoticism
  • How exoticism articulates race/racism, or nation/nationalism/culture
  • The place of exoticism in postcolonial studies teaching and research

Postcolonialism, Animals and the Environment

A Postgraduate Masterclass led by Professor Graham Huggan (Leeds University)

To be held at Otago University
Saturday 27 June, 2009

This one-day masterclass, following on from 'The New Exotic? Postcolonialism and Globalization' Conference 24-26 June 2009, focuses on some of the most significant and urgent questions of our times, as these have been taken up within postcolonial studies. What does the postcolonial have to say to environmental concerns and to relations between humans and animals? What do the challenges facing and posed by the environment and human-animal relations have to say to the field of postcolonial studies?

Professor Huggan will lead discussions of postcolonialism and environmentalism as well as of zoocriticism and the postcolonial, through a selection of (pre-read) texts. These will include Arundhati Roy's The Cost of Living, and J.M. Coetzee's The Lives of Animals, and participants are asked to acquire their own copies of these texts. In addition, the class will read secondary critical literature such as Graham Huggan's 'Greening Postcolonialism' (in Modern Fiction Studies, 2004), Rob Nixon's 'Environmentalism and Postcolonialism' (in the collection Postcolonial Studies and Beyond), Ch. 5 of Philip Armstrong's What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity, and Helen Tiffin's essay 'Unjust Relations' (in the collection Compromising Post/Colonialisms). These essays/chapters will be compiled into a reader to be distributed to participants in advance.

Interracial Intimacies: New Zealand Histories

19-20 June, 2009, at Otago Museum

organised by Dr Angela Wanhalla

Postcolonial Popular Cultures

December 14-16, 2008
University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Keynote Speakers

  • Grant Farred, Professor of Africana Studies and English, Cornell University.“For Our Time? Thinking the Popularity of the Postcolonial”: exploring the relevance of postcoloniality, and its historically difficult relationship to the popular, in our moment.
  • Kalpana Ram, Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University."Learning from Popular Culture: Ontologies and Epistemologies of Popular Religious Practices (Dance and Cinema) in South India."
  • Jo Smith, Media Studies Programme, Victoria University of Wellington.“Postcolonial Maori TV?”

About the Symposium

The field of postcolonial studies has recently been called on to redress its lack of sustained attention to, and engagement with, popular cultural practices and forms. A survey of the anthologies and major collections that inform the field suggest the point is a legitimate one. While there are scholars such as Arjun Appadurai, Paul Gilroy, and Kobena Mercer who engage with popular cultural practices of diasporic and migrant communities, the postcolonial field has shown less attention to popular cultural forms as productive sites for exploring the kinds of questions that animate it.

Taking on this challenge, we invite submissions from across disciplines to engage with the theme of postcolonial popular cultures. Theoretical and disciplinary inquiries may include the constitution of postcolonial popular cultures, the function, role of the postcolonial in postcolonial popular culture, and the critical perspective offered by postcolonial studies. What does postcolonial studies have to contribute to the study and understanding of popular culture that has not been addressed by cultural studies? How would an examination of contemporary popular cultural practices influence significant areas of postcolonial theorizing: hybridity, resistance, the politics of representation? How would it affect the field's tendency to focus on a certain literary and theoretical canon, and its arguably textual orientation? What economies of value shape the relative exclusion of popular culture in postcolonial studies?

Beyond this, we are concerned to ask whether an emphasis on postcolonial popular culture challenges specific structures of power, or whether popular cultural forms and practices are complicit with the very institutions and operations postcolonial studies seek to challenge? In a period of rapid commodification and intense consumerism, what is at stake when we speak of postcolonial popular cultures? What impact is made on postcolonial cultural expressions by the 'global popular'?

These questions are by no means exhaustive; they are offered as a point of entry for further discussion on the theme of postcolonial popular culture. Postcolonial popular culture is defined in a broad and inclusive way to incorporate lived and textual cultures, the mass media, ways of life, and discursive modes of representation. Central to the formation of postcolonial popular cultures are articulations of the economic, social and political spheres and the conference welcomes contributions that will highlight these issues.

Papers from across disciplines addressed aspects of Postcolonial Popular Culture, including:

  • Popular culture and resistance
  • Everyday popular cultural practices
  • Sport
  • Music
  • Dance
  • Body cultures
  • Fashion/clothing
  • Food
  • Television and other broadcast media
  • Online games, computer and other technologies
  • Street and community theatre
  • Shopping

Ethics and Hospitality, Masterclass

Hosted by the Postcolonial Studies Research Network University of Otago

10–12 December 2007

with session leaders:

  • Dr Kim Worthington
  • Assoc. Prof. Rosalyn Diprose
  • Dr Linnell Secomb

The University of Otago's Postcolonial Studies Research Network is pleased to announce its second three-day intensive Masterclass. The 2007 Masterclass, “Ethics and Hospitality,” focuses on an important and largely overlooked area of postcolonial studies. Ethics has long been treated as postcolonialism's “stepchild,” a secondary and merely incidental addition to the field's more urgent commitment to questions of politics. It is now increasingly recognised, however, that in their very supplementarity, ethical demands in fact lie at the heart of postcolonial studies. Whether it is questions of globalisation and its effects on local communities, of viable modes of reconciliation and forgiveness in the aftermath of violent colonial encounters, or of appropriate forms of hospitality to asylum seekers—questions of ethical responsibility for others are now arising with unprecedented urgency and demand a rethinking of postcolonialism's foundational propositions.

By addressing these questions, the 2007 Masterclass on “Ethics and Hospitality” begins this difficult process of rethinking the political in terms of the ethical. Each day will focus on a particular aspect of this rethinking, led by scholars of note whose research has contributed to the ethical reframing of the field of postcolonial studies:

  • Day One: Ethics and Forgiveness in Postcolonial Contexts (Kim Worthington)
  • Day Two: National Hospitality and Belonging in a Postcolonial World (Rosalyn Diprose)
  • Day Three: Postcolonialism, Friendship and Love (Linnell Secomb)

The sessions will address the multiple ways in which ethical concerns are now shaping postcolonial debates and investigate how postcolonial studies, as a field, is being challenged and reconfigured through its encounter with ethics.

Notes for participants:

The Postcolonial Studies Masterclass was designed for postgraduate students and early career researchers. Its purpose was to provide a forum where shared research interests could be discussed so as to advance research in fields of the Humanities and Social Sciences that have been influenced by questions of postcoloniality. The Masterclass gave participants the opportunity for sustained engagement with influential scholars whose work addresses questions of ethics and postcoloniality. It also provided a workshop environment where participants could share their own work with each other.

Postcolonial Politics: A Symposium

November 27 - 29, 2006
University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ

Keynote Speakers

  • Dr Suvendrini Perera (Faculty of Media, Society and Culture, Curtin University of Technology)
  • Dr Anthony Burke (School of Politics and International Relations, University of New South Wales)
  • Dr Mark Devenney (Historical & Critical Studies, Brighton University, U.K.)

What is a postcolonial politics? How might such a politics be constituted? What concerns animate contemporary postcolonial politics? Where are the spaces of politics? Where are the stakes? What are the terms of political contestation and transformation? How are the forms and concerns of postcolonial politics shifting?

Such questions are critical in the face of arguments that postcolonial criticism has become absorbed into institutions of power, as well as suggestions that the abstraction of the postcolonial as a methodology, and its appropriation for First World concerns, mean that the postcolonial has no political currency. Against this are arguments affirming the productive possibilities of articulating a politics of liberation through postcolonial critique. Questions about a postcolonial politics also emerge as crucial at a time when the rights of a variety of peoples (asylum-seekers, refugees, boat-people, exiles, diasporas, indigenous communities, migrants) animate the genealogy of our present.

New Challenges, New Directions in Postcolonial Theory, Masterclass

Hosted by the Postcolonial Research Network University of Otago
5-7 December 2005

Session leaders are:

  • Professor Vijay Mishra
  • Dr Kim Worthington
  • Professor Helen Tiffin

This three-day intensive Masterclass focuses on important contemporary research questions situated at the interface of postcolonial studies and Humanities disciplines. It focuses on the movements and (re)settlements of peoples, questions of ethics, and the forms and roles of otherness (such as new forms of otherness generated or recognised by the current preoccupations in postcolonial theory). There will be a day-long focus on each one of these, led by scholars of note whose research has contributed to such questions within the field of postcolonial studies:

Day One: What Was Postcolonialism? (Professor Vijay Mishra)
Day Two: Postcolonialism and Ethics (Dr Kim Worthington)
Day Three: Postcolonialism's Others: Human and Animal Justice (Professor Helen Tiffin)

The sessions will address the ways postcolonial theory has been taken up, responded to, and critiqued in grappling with these topics. They will explore how the key debates within postcolonial studies are being registered, engaged and transformed in the process.

The Postcolonial Studies Masterclass is designed for postgraduate students and early career researchers to share common concerns, and to broaden their awareness of both theoretical and disciplinary approaches within the field of postcolonial studies, so as to advance research in fields of the Humanities that have been influenced by questions of postcoloniality.

This Masterclass will give participants the opportunity for sustained engagement with influential scholars working in the broad field of postcolonial studies, and to share their own work with each other in a workshop environment.

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