Antoney Bell, McGill University.
Michel Foucault, “Society Must Be Defended, 17 March 1976,” in Lectures at the Collège de France, 1975-76. trans. David Macey, ed. Mauro Bertani et al. (New York, 2003), 239-263.
Among the late twentieth century French intellectuals who theorized about postmodern philosophy, Michel Foucault’s lectures at the Collège de France are essential in understanding the history and development of modern nation-states that exercise biopolitics to control and regulate populations in a disciplinary society. For Foucault, the seventeenth and eighteenth century was a crucial turning point in the classical theory of sovereignty whereby absolute monarchs sought to justify power over their subjects. Whereas the old sovereign’s power over life was only granted through death or more specifically his right to “take life and let live,” Foucault suggests that this power was supplanted by the new power of regularization, becoming the right to “make live and let die.” The newfound authority over the individual as a body saw the creation of a disciplinary society with technologies and institutions such as schools, prisons, asylums, and hospitals used to regulate and control populations. Towards the second half of the eighteenth century, a new technology of power also emerged, focusing on man as a species. Nation states focused on sustaining, multiplying, and optimizing the life and existence of the human species.
Gayatri Chakrovorty Spivak, “Can the Subaltern Speak?” in Marxism and the Interpretation of Culture, eds. Cary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (London: Macmillan, 1988), 271-313.
Gayatri Spivak’s theoretical text Can the Subaltern Speak? created the foundations of Subaltern literature, criticizing the implication of the Varna caste system on Dalits or “Untouchables” in India. The strength of Spivak’s argument lies in her critique of Western intellectuals who purportedly maintain objective stances in their attempts to conceptualize universal or mainstream epistemologies. Spivak argues that postmodernists including Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze adopt a subjective stance as white European intellectuals, often ignoring the implications of the global division of labour on the periphery/Other. Western intellectuals thus engage in “epistemic violence,” commodifying and projecting Eurocentric knowledge onto the Third World. Spivak explains that Europe is deliberately centralized as the ideal subject in the production of a universalized knowledge to support the economic agenda of Western bourgeois elite. She then questions whether all intellectuals should conform to the privileged Eurocentric views of Foucault and Deleuze and abdicate their responsibility in empowering the political voices of the Subaltern, simply by assuming that they can speak for themselves.
Anirban Karak, New York University.
Allison Davis, Burleigh B. Gardner, and Mary R. Gardner, Deep South: A Social Anthropological Study of Caste and Class (2022).
Originally published in 1941, this pioneering study has been republished by the University of Chicago Press this year, with a useful foreword by Isabel Wilkerson, author of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents (2020). The question of whether a parallel can be drawn between the caste system in the Indian subcontinent and the problem of racism in the US South, was first raised and systematically analyzed in this volume. The study was conducted by two academic couples – Burleigh and Mary Gardner (white) and Allison and Elizabeth Davis (black) – who lived for two years in Natchez, Mississippi on either side of the color line. The level of detail in the study is, therefore, unsurpassed, but such were the academic prejudices of the time, that Elizabeth Davis’s name could not even be included among the authors. Despite its shortcomings – such as its simplistic faith in objectivist social science – Deep South remains an important source for anyone interested in comparative and historical sociology.
Andrew Sartori, Liberalism in Empire: An Alternative History (2014).
This study combines a rethinking of Locke’s ideas about property with a critique of the tendency to read liberal politics in the Third World as essentially “derivative” of imperial forms. Grounding his analysis in a critical reading of Marx and Locke that confounds both orthodox Marxist and symapathetic liberal interpretations, Sartori argues that the specifically “anticapitalist trajectories” of Locke’s thought were still bound to the very practices of commodity production and circulation in capitalist society. Sartori’s reading of Marx clarifies how the contradictions in Lockean thought can be rendered legible in terms of the practical contradictions of capitalism. More importantly, Sartori shows that once the “impulse” to liberal abstractions is grounded in the historical trajectory of capitalism, the pervasiveness of liberal arguments about property in nineteenth and twentieth-century Bengal can be understood with reference to the forms of agrarian relationships in those contexts, instead of being read as extrinsically imposed by colonial institutions and pedagogy. Sartori’s analysis has profound implications for interpretations of politics in modern India that need to be explored seriously.
Ashutosh, “With ‘Ravan’ Insult For PM, Congress Repeats a Losing Pattern.” NDTV, November 30, 2022.
It’s election season in the state of Gujarat, located on India’s western coast and one of its wealthiest provinces. It is also, more importantly, the home state of both Narendra Modi, the current right-wing prime minister, as well as his chief aide and home minister Amit Shah. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been ruling in the state since 1995, and Modi himself was chief minister between 2001 and 2014. There has been a lot of talk about anti-incumbency this time around, but the traditional centrist opponent of the BJP in the state – the Indian National Congress – seems to be repeating losing patterns, and a change of guard looks increasingly unlikely.
Tiger Zhifu Li, University of Sydney
Frank Langfitt, "Perspective: Jiang Zemin's passing marks the end of an era for China", National Public Radio
On Tuesday, China held a memorial service for Jiang Zemin in the Great Hall of the People in a country that is far more repressive than when he left office as president — as required by term limits — in 2002.
Matthew Knott, "Japan-Australia relationship becoming a 'powerful force': Marles", Sydney Morning Herald
Australia will push for Japan to become a quasi member of the AUKUS pact as the two nations work more closely together in response to China.
Charlie Lewis, "How Palestine is winning the World Cup", Crikey
There has been a great deal of discussion of repression and rights in the lead-up to the World Cup in Qatar — but there's one human rights issue that's had unprecedented prominence during this 2022 tournament.