Thursday, 29 October 2009

The 'Third World' in Theory(TWiT) Group

At least since Frantz Fanon’s ‘Wretched of the Earth’ and Edward Said’s ground breaking work ‘Orientalism’ the lenses through which we see, understand and interpret the “Third World”, its society and peoples, continue to challenge scholars. These “Third” worlds exist out there, somewhere, as exotic and pathetic worlds simultaneously, and produce much scholarly angst about ‘Eurocentrism’, ‘modernisation’, ‘Westernisation’ and ‘development’. ‘Can the subaltern speak’ Gayatri Spivak’s asked in her short and influential essay of the same name. Can we understand what the subaltern speaks, however? Are we able to interpret and understand what they are saying? We have seen many theories about and for the “Third World” come and go - ‘development theories, modernization theories, world systems theories, neo-colonialism, post-colonialism, eurocentrism and orientalism, and of course, Marxism including “Third World” Marxism. What next? Are we on the verge of another ground breaking “Third World” theory? What were the strengths and weaknesses of these theories and why did they succeed or fail? Large volumes of scholarly research are about the “Third World”. Paradoxically the more we study it the less we appear capable of understanding these “other” societies.
A group of scholars and activists in and around London interested in studying, discussing, debating and rethinking some of these issues have decided to meet regularly. The purpose of the study group is to bring together scholars interested in a better “Third World” to radicalize the way the Third World is viewed and understood by scholars.
The Study Group will read and discuss texts that have been influential in the way problems of the “Third World” have been envisioned. Participants are encouraged to suggest their own articles/texts for reading and to extend the critique to different branches of knowledge and disciplines.
To kick start the studies, the Study Group will consider the following readings at their first meeting:
1. A.K Ramanujan “Is there an Indian Way of Thinking: An Informal Essay” in Vinay Dharwadker (ed) The Collected Essays of Ramanujan: New Delhi, Oxford University Press, 2004 [1999], p.34-51;
2. Fred Dallymayr “Western Thought and Indian Thought: Comments on Ramanujan” Philosophy East & West, Vol. 44, No 3, 1994, p. 527-542.
Suggested Readings for future sessions (at the first sessions members will be free to suggest other options)
1. Susan Buck-Morss “Hegel and Haiti” Critical Inquiry, Vol. 26, No. 4. (Summer, 2000), pp. 821-865 and/or Susan Buck-Morss “Hegel, Haiti and Universal History” University of Pittsburgh Press 2009.
2. Karl Polanyi “The Great Transformation” 1944.
3. Gayatri Spivak: “Can the Subaltern Speak” and/or “Towards a History of a Vanishing Present”
4. Jiwei Ci: :”Freedom and Realms of Living” Philosophy East and West Vol 41 No 3 1991, 303-326 & “Disenchantment, Desublimation, and Demoralization: Some Cultural Conjunctions of Capitalism” New Literary History 30.2 (1999) 295-324.
5. P.H Coetzee and APJ Roux “The African Philosophy Reader” 1998{2001].
6. Evgeny Pashukanis “The General Theory of Law and Marxism” (1924) and
7. Rajaram Dravid “The Problem of Universals in Indian Philosophy” 1972
8. Romila Thapar “Time as a metaphor for history”
Discussions will focus on key themes in dominant theories e.g. structure and agency, capitalism and colonialism, history/time and geography/place, and modern and traditional systems of knowledge. Guest speakers will be invited to speak on specific issues.
Meetings will be in University of Westminster every second Thursday of the month beginning Thursday 12 November from 6-9 pm Venue: LTS 2.05c
Moderation: The Group will be moderated by Dr Radha D' Souza, Reader in Law, University of Westminster, lawyer, writer, and social justice campaigner.
To Join: Please, contact: Wilfred Mamah on Email: Please, feel free to also join us on Face book Group:

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