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Global Intellectual History as Political and Ethical Critique

In recent years, global intellectual history has emerged as one of the most transformative scholarly disciplines, raising questions with the potential to radically disrupt the ways in which we view our selves and wrestle with alterity. In the context of the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Research Fellowship held by Milinda Banerjee, a series of events has been planned, across 2017 and 2018, to discuss the thresholds of global intellectual history, and especially the ways in which the latter can reshape critical theory and activist discourse. The speakers will investigate issues relating to sovereignty, law, labour and political economy, theology, and social conflict and revolution. While the relations between power and intellectual exertion – between conceptualizations of mastery and subaltern intellectual work which expropriates and resists various kinds of lordship – have often been explored in granular detail with respect to particular socio-cultural formations, we ask as to how these dialectics can be comprehended across the planetary scale in which social forces can be seen to operate, with ever greater intensity, today. Simultaneously, how do we avoid the risks of occluding localized sites of transformation? How do we acknowledge subalternized (along race, class, gender, and so on) actors and categories as originary in transfiguring horizons of ethical-political theory? In cutting through constructed binaries of local and global, indigenous and extraneous, various forms of multi-scalar and transversal methodology will contribute to our dialogues. The figure of the ‘trans-’ calls for movements of going beyond, of fording to other shores. We are impelled to ask as to how we can understand the social habitats of arguments, without incarcerating the arguments into specific contexts. How do we make past arguments productive of novel ethical futures – more just acts and social relationships – through rigorous critique as well as optimistic recuperation? By bringing speakers from different domains of specialization, we hope to generate new directions in pursuing the jagged insights of transversal and global intellection.

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