Contemporary Political Theory, Politics 3
Department of Politics and International Studies, Rhodes University, 2011
Words wreak havoc...when they find a name for what had...been lived namelessly.
- Jean Paul Sartre (cited in Ananya Roy’s City Requiem, Calcutta: gender & the Politics of Poverty, 2003 (University of Minnesota Press: Minneapolis)
In this course we will engage, immediately and without mediation, with some of the most influential theory at the centre of some of the most urgent debates in contemporary political thought. Each lecture will be based around a specific text and it will be assumed that the students have read that text before the lecture. The compulsory readings are listed here and will be available in digital and printed form. The optional readings, along with various other resources, are listed on RU Connected.
Week One – The Meaning of Haiti
A glimpse into some of the hidden history at the heart of the origins of the modern world.
· Peter Hallward ‘Haitian Inspiration’, Radical Philosophy, No. 123, 2004
· Michel-Rolph Trouillot ‘An Unthinkable History’ from Silencing the Past, 1995 (Boston: Beacon Press)
· Nick Nesbit ‘Turning the Tide: The Problem of Popular Insurgency in Haitian Revolutionary Historiography’, Small Axe, 2008
Week Two – Contemporary Thinking from the Underside of Modernity
Shifting the geography of reason today.
· Lewis Gordon ‘African-American Philosophy, Race and the Geography of Reason’ in Not Only the Masters Tools, 2006 (Paradigm Publishers, Boulder)
· Emilio Quadrelli ‘Grassroots Political Militants: Banlieusards and Politics’, Mute Magazine, 2007
· Arundhati Roy ‘Walking with the Comrades’, Outlook India, 2010
Week Three – Thinking from Africa
Thinking from our world.
· Achille Mbembe ‘African Modes of Self Writing’, Public Culture, Vol. 14, No.1, 2002
· Ato Sekyi-Otu ‘Fanon & the Possibility of Postcolonial Critical Imagination’, in Living Fanon edited by Nigel Gibson, 2011 (Palgrave Macmillian: London)
· Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome Listening to Africa, Misunderstanding and Misinterpreting Africa: Reformist Western Feminist Evangelism on African Women, Paper presented to the 42nd Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association
Week Four – Thinking from the Underside of Nationalism
Subaltern studies and the politics of the people.
· Ranajit Guha ‘Introduction’ in A Subaltern Studies Reader, 1997 (Oxford: Delhi)
· Partha Chatterjee ‘Populations and Political Society’ in The Politics of the Governed, 2004 (Permanent Black: Delhi)
· Sangtin Feminist Writers ‘Challenges of NGOisation and Dreams of Sangtin’ in Playing With Fire: Feminist Thought and Activism Through Seven Lives in India, 2006 (University of Minnesota: Minneapolis)
· S’bu Zikode To Resist All Degradations and Divisions, 2009
Week Five – Thinking at a Distance from the State & Civil Society
A politics beyond the state?
· Alain Badiou ‘The Paris Commune: A political declaration on politics’ in Polemics, 2006 (Verso: London)
· Jacques Rancière ‘Democracy, Republic, Representation’ in Hatred of Democracy, 2006 (Verso: London)
· Harri Englund ‘The Hidden Lessons of Civic Education’ in Prisoners of Freedom: Human Rights & the African Poor, 2006 (University of California Press: Los Angeles)
· Michael Neocosmos ‘Transition, Human Rights & Violence: Rethinking a liberal political relationship in the African neocolony’, Interface, 2011
Week Six – New Forms of Emancipatory Thought?
Will tolerance, human rights and democracy institute the will of the people?
· Alain Badiou ‘The Idea of Communism’, The Idea of Communism, Ed. Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Zizek, 2010 (Verso: London)
· Peter Hallward ‘Communism of the Intellect, Communism of the Will’, The Idea of Communism, Ed. Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Zizek, 2010 (Verso: London)
· Michael Hardt ‘The Common in Communism’, The Idea of Communism, Ed. Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Zizek, 2010 (Verso: London)
· Jacques Rancière ‘Communists Without Communism’, The Idea of Communism, Ed. Costas Douzinas & Slavoj Zizek, 2010 (Verso: London)
Week Seven – Using Contemporary Theory in South Africa
Does the end of apartheid mean the end of politics?
· Grant Farred ‘The Not Yet Counterpartisan: A new politics of oppositionality’ South Atlantic Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 4, 2004
· Michael Neocosmos ‘May 2008 and the Politics of Fear’ in ‘Foreign Natives’ to ‘Native
Foreigners’: Explaining Xenophobia in Post-apartheid South Africa, 2010 (CODESRIA: Dakar)
· Nigel Gibson ‘‘Amandla is Still Awethu: Fanonian Practices in Post-Apartheid South Africa’, Fanonian Practices in South Africa, 2011 (UKZN Press: Pietermaritzburg)· Anna Selmeczi “… we are being left to burn because we do not count”: Biopolitics, Abandonment, and Resistance', Global Society, Vol. 23, No. 4, 2009