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Sunday, December 13
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books)
by Debashish on December 13, 2009 06:03PM (PST)
(recycled): Dipesh Chakrabarty's book "Provincializing Europe" is an important theoretical study of colonialism and its legacies in India. While [many] works outline the atrocities and dleterious effects of colonialism abound, Chakrabarti, one of the founder-members of the Subaltern Studies movement in Indian (and world) history tells the story from the lesser known side of the strategies used by Indians (in colonial Kolkata) for making an "alternate habitation" of modernity - i.e. adapting it to their own uses. In doing this, he also makes a number of important theoretical points about cultural situatedness and conditions for effective cross-cultural dialog. This review, taken from the London Review of Books is by Amit Chaudhuri, a well-known younger Indian novelist and commentator. more »
Tuesday, September 29
by Rich on September 29, 2009 06:38PM (PDT)
In a country where one can be arrested for writing a book because it offends the sentiments of religious devotees or criticizing or for criticizing the judiciary this interview with Arundati Roy addresses sham democracy in India. One has to confront Arundati one by one on the issues she raises for social justice that are wide ranging and concern Maoist in Orissa, armed occupation in Kashmir, the ever latent potential for genocide within the power regimes couched within Hindu or Islamic fundamentalist movements or even more to the point, the model of Sinhalese Buddhist Nationalism for ethnic cleansing that is being adapted by the Home Minister (and former Enron lawyer) India's new neo-liberal elite, its global corporations to move 85% of the population from the villages and countryside into mega-city slums, appropriating the lands of indigenous peoples, to harvest for themselves India's last remaining natural mineral resources, such as bauxite.... more »
Wednesday, September 16
by Debashish on September 16, 2009 11:25PM (PDT)
In this last chapter of his autobiographical novel The Global Soul, Pico Iyer captures the peculiar malaise of contemporary modernity - the uncertainty of belonging, the illusory surface of global consumerism, the search for traditional fixities.
Perhaps underlying this statement of alien homecoming lies a tragic absurdism; perhaps it opens a door on an alternate modernity; perhaps it is a call for an engaged postmodernity. Iyer leaves us with ambiguous questions.more »
Sunday, September 6
by Debashish on September 6, 2009 07:14PM (PDT)
"The Crisis of the Mind" was written by by the French Symbolist poet and essayist Paul Valery at the request of John Middleton Murry. "La Crise de l'esprit" originally appeared in English, in two parts, in The Athenaeum (London), April 11 and May 2, 1919. The French text was published the same year in the August number of La Nouvelle Revue Française.
Valery's post WWI text, read today, bears a curiously contemporary prescience in its final aphoristic paragraphs, though it is also marked by the pervaisve Eurocentrism of the turn of the 19th/20th c. It also illustrates a form of poetic thinking and writing style which braids a scientific temper with Nietzschean mysticism in what he calls "a physics of the imagination."
The striking yet understated ending points to the way ahead for contemporary man in the thought of Valery (following in the wake of Mallarme and other French modernist thinkers). It lies in a new freedom at the margins of modernity and its social determinism. In thinking this self-reconstitution, the human can perhaps reconfigure himself in his historicity. more »
Friday, August 21
Tuesday, August 18
The Fundamentalism Project: A series from the University of Chicago Press Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby, Editors
by Rich on August 18, 2009 05:15PM (PDT)
The Fundamentalism Project (1991–95), a series of five volumes edited by the American scholars Martin E. Marty and R. Scott Appleby. Marty and Appleby viewed fundamentalism primarily as the militant rejection of secular modernity. The Fundamentalism Project has produced the definitive text on the phenomena of Fundamentalism more »
Friday, August 7
by Debashish on August 7, 2009 06:25AM (PDT)
In this article, Andrew Feenberg, a major thinker on culture and technology (more properly the culture of technology) refelcts on globalization and the contribution of national cultural histories to its increasingly systemic pervasion. The specific non-western nation he takes for his illustration and the exploration of a thesis of alternate modernity is Japan. How is modernity technologically assimilated in Japan and how is world modernity shaped by Japanese culture? Is there any cultural distinction which can be spoken of here? Do cultures change as a result of modern technology or do they remain the same? Or can they influence modernity? Or are they capable of alternate modernities? These are some of the questions Feenberg starts with.
In further developing his refelctions, Feenberg draws on the thought of early modern Japanese thinker, Kitaro Nishida (1870-1945). It is interesting to see how Nishida's ideas of the rise of Asia and the concord of national cultures in an organic globalization resembles Sri Aurobindo's thesis on the ideal of human unity. Neo-Hegelian reflections of this kind were an important staple of early modern thought, on the threshold of a wave of world modernization, and Sri Aurobindo's own contribution to this imagining of the future must be read within this discourse. Feenberg points to the ultra-national distortions in Nishida's text, but also to its continued relevance and fertility. - db more »
Thursday, July 30
by Rich on July 30, 2009 11:32AM (PDT)
This is part of (midway through) an excellent lecture by Zizek on Fundamentalism. In this particular part of the lecture he considers the differences in how Derrida and Habermas treat the question of "the other" and how in his view they actually compliment each other. In the other parts of the lecture Zizek gives his insight into why, if Max Weber were writing today, he would call his book, "Taoism and the Spirit of Capitalism", (aka why westernized Buddhism or Taoism is the perfect compliment to neo-liberal globalization). Zizek also addresses the differences in fundamentalism between the type practiced by Tibetean Buddhist and Amish versus moral majority Christianity and radical Islam as well as eurocentric tendencies to exoticize the other
About half way through this part of the lecture are some questions raised (that are difficult to hear) but if one listens to the entire lecture (either the series of nine u tube videos or the mp3) one will be richly rewarded, because Zizek is here, at the top of his game wildly speaking to issues of fundamentalism, eurocentrism, orientalism, and otherness.
The link to the utube page with the entire series of nine videos and the mp3 download of the lecture is given in the body of the post.... more »
Thursday, July 23
by Debashish on July 23, 2009 04:26PM (PDT)
Bruno Latour (1947-) is Professor and vice-president for research at the Institut d'études Politiques de Paris. Latour is a leading and very influential anthropologist of Modernity whose major contribution may be called holistic politcal epistemology. This, for Latour, is not a form of idealism, but what, following William James, he calls "radical empiricism." Latour is (in)famous for his pronouncement "We have never been modern." By this he means that the overarching hubris of modernity for human autonomy and mastery is a sub-narrative in a larger embeddedness in holistic properties which is only beginning to make its imperative critical demands on human attention. This emergence depends on the recognition of a change of telos and and a political epistemology of interdisciplinarity which takes humanity beyond itself into the fullness of global embodiment. In this essay, he reflects on environmentalism, society, technology and theology. - db more »
by Rich on July 23, 2009 09:15AM (PDT)
The analogy between the terms "global" and "universal" is misleading. Universalization has to do with human rights, liberty, culture, and democracy. By contrast, globalization is about technology, the market, tourism, and information. Globalization appears to be irreversible whereas universalization is likely to be on its way out. At least, it appears to be retreating as a value system which developed in the context of Western modernity and was unmatched by any other culture. Any culture that becomes universal loses its singularity and dies. That's what happened to all those cultures we destroyed by forcefully assimilating them. But it is also true of our own culture, despite its claim of being universally valid. The only difference is that other cultures died because of their singularity, which is a beautiful death. We are dying because we are losing our own singularity and exterminating all our values. And this is a much more ugly death....
We are really not talking about a "clash of civilizations" here, but instead about an almost anthropological confrontation between an undifferentiated universal culture and everything else that, in whatever domain, retains a quality of irreducible alterity. From the perspective of global power (as fundamentalist in its beliefs as any religious orthodoxy), any mode of difference and singularity is heresy. Singular forces only have the choice of joining the global system (by will or by force) or perishing. The mission of the West (or rather the former West, since it lost its own values a long time ago) is to use all available means to subjugate every culture to the brutal principle of cultural equivalence. Once a culture has lost its values, it can only seek revenge by attacking those of others. Beyond their political or economic objectives, wars such as the one in Afghanistan  aim at normalizing savagery and aligning all the territories. The goal is to get rid of any reactive zone, and to colonize and domesticate any wild and resisting territory both geographically and mentally. more »
Friday, July 17
by Debashish on July 17, 2009 10:35AM (PDT)
As globalization strips the veil from the last inviolable topos of earth and real-time surveiilance renders every square unit of the planet physically transaparent in its utilitarian Google Maps and Star War strategies, the sacred plexuses of the earth also multiply in their resistant cultural geographies of surreal uptopia.
Peter Bishop teaches Communication and Cultural Studies at the University of Southern Australia. Bishop's entertaining and erudite analyses of contemporary material culture pry open the spaces where spirituality, imagination, cultural history and material practices intersect. In this first chapter from his book, The Myth of Shangri-La: Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred landscape, he presents the makings of a theory of sacred cultural materiality - the spiritual, psychological, aesthetic, cultural, historical, political, economic and geographic transactions which establish the utopian spaces of contemporary spiritual desire. - DB more »
Friday, July 10
by Rich on July 10, 2009 09:54AM (PDT)
Conference Announcement: Fundamentalism and the Future
Friday, September 11 and Saturday, September 12, 2009
California Institute of Integral Studies
1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
A two-day conference will be held Friday, September 11 and Saturday September 12 on the topic “Fundamentalism and the Future.” The conference will be at the California Institute of Integral studies in San Francisco, hosted by the Department of Asian and Comparative Religions. The conference organizers are Rich Carlson, Debashish Banerji and David Hutchinson. Registration is free. For details on the conference, location, and registration, please see http://fundamentalismandthefuture.com
Saturday, June 6
by Debashish on June 6, 2009 12:52PM (PDT)
Andrew Feenberg is the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy of Technology at the School of Communication, Simon Fraser University. In this article he considers the specificity of our Modern Age as Technology, as identified and theorized both by Martin Heidegger and Jurgen Habermas. Both these seiminal modern/contemporary thinkers, though marked by divergence in important respects, see Technology as the determining agent for modern subjectivity as a condition of subjection, alientaion, instrumentalization, homogeniety and social fragmentation. Feenberg here analyzes primary and secondary characteristics of Technology and indicates possibilties of technological reform in a post-industrial context to reintegrate culture, community, creativity and participatory improvization into world culture. One may note that though for the purposes of his own transformative discourse, Feenberg construes Heidegger and Habermas oppositionally as essentialistic in their characterization of Technology, in fact his reformative possibiltiies return us to Heidegger's view of the essence of Techne as Poiesis.more »
Friday, May 29
by Debashish on May 29, 2009 11:10AM (PDT)
Talal Asad is a Professor of Anthropology at the City University of New York. In his self-description, "I am interested in the phenomenon of religion (and secularism) as an integral part of modernity, and especially in the religious revival in the Middle East. Connected with this is my interest in the links between religious and secular notions of pain and cruelty, and therefore with the modern discourse of Human Rights. My long-term research concerns the transformation of religious law (the shari'ah) in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt with special reference to arguments about what constitutes secular and progressive reform."
Asad looks at the phenomenon of modernity as a discourse in Foucauldian terms, marked by the rise of the secular public sphere and the disciplinary institution and apparatus of the nation-state. The inevitable subjugations and investments in ideological choices rooted in the history of the European Enlightenmnt that this implies have led, in his opinion, to our present fractured and violent postcolonial world, where contested uniformities assert their right over the ubiquitous disciplinary space of nation states. But Asad's analyses don't stop short at stating the obvious in a sophisticated language or taking sides either with apologists of religious militancy or secular normalcy. Asad's call is for a dialogic engagement, interrogating the biases, provincial limitations and arbitaray choices within post-Enlightenment modernity through the critiquing of its doxa and nomos by alternate cultural histories, while probing these pre-modern formations for pluralities of interpretation and internal resources of human emancipation.
He thus envisages a postsecular world, in which individuals and groups may co-exist not through the policing of the boundaries of a public sphere by the nation-state, but through the development of alternate social realities of human emancipation. Asad's views are germane to the present situation in India, with the rise of a majoritarian uniformalist Hindutva at the national level and the percolation of its ideological nomos into ashrams such as the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. The following interview with AsiaSource correspondent Nermeen Shaikh brings a number of his insights to the front. more »
Sunday, April 19
by Rich on April 19, 2009 02:04PM (PDT)
Reference: 100 Years of Sri Aurobindo on Evolution
The scientific tradition of the "West," of Europe and North America, has had its greatest success when it has dealt with what we have come to think of as the central questions of scientific inquiry: "What is this made of?" and "How does this work?" Over the centuries, we have developed more and more sophisticated ways of answering these questions. We can cut things open, slice them thin, stain them, and answer what they are made of. We have made great achievements in these relatively simple areas, but have had dramatic failures in attempts to deal with more complex systems. We see this especially when we ask questions about health. When we look at the changing patterns of health over the last century or so, we have both cause for celebration and for dismay. Human life expectancy has increased by perhaps thirty years since the beginning of the twentieth century and the incidence of some of the classical deadly diseases has declined and almost disappeared. Smallpox presumably has been eradicated; leprosy is very rare; and polio has nearly vanished from most regions of the world. Scientific technologies have advanced to the point where we can give very sophisticated diagnoses, distinguishing between kinds of germs that are very similar to each other.
But the growing gap between rich and poor make many technical advances irrelevant to most of the world's people. Public health authorities were caught by surprise by the emergence of new diseases and the reappearance of diseases believed to be eradicated. In the 1970s, it was common to hear that infectious disease as an area of research was dying. In principle, infection had been licked; the health problems of the future would be degenerative diseases, problems of aging and chronic diseases. We now know this was a monumental error. The public health establishment was caught short by the return of malaria, cholera, tuberculosis, dengue, and other classical diseases. But it was also surprised by the appearance of apparently new infectious diseases: the most threatening of which is AIDS, but also Legionnaire's disease, Ebola virus, toxic shock syndrome, multiple drug resistant tuberculosi, arid many others. Not only was infectious disease not on the way out, but old diseases have come back with increased virulence and totally new ones have emerged.
How did this happen; why was public health caught by surprise? Why did the health professions assume that infectious disease would disappear and whey were they so wrong? In fact, infectious disease had been declining dramatically in Europe and North America for the last 150 years... more »
Thursday, April 2
by Rich on April 2, 2009 09:24AM (PDT)
As the celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origins of Species take place this year, it is easy to overlook the fact that 2009 also marks the 100th anniversary of Sri Aurobindo's first major text on evolution and consciousness. In Process and Evolution and Yoga and Human Evolution (1909) Sri Aurobindo begins to comprehensively articulate his vision of human evolution. Just as Darwin's book became the foundation for a science of evolution, what has been called evolutionary spirituality can be traced back to Sri Aurobindo's work. Many are acknowledging this bi-centennial year of Darwin's birth with a reassessment of his work in light of what we now know about evolution it therefore, also seems to be a good time to reassess Sri Aurobindo's vision of human evolution in terms of our contemporary understanding of the phenomena......
Even though his view of history is essentially cyclic he starts his consideration of evolution by writing in Yoga and Human Evolution (1909) the following:
“Whether we take the modern scientific or the ancient Hindu standpoint the progress of humanity is a fact” (Aurobindo)
However, by the early1940s when he is revising the last chapters of The Life Divine he writes:
“the idea of human progress itself is very probably an illusion, for there is no sign that man, once emerged from the animal stage, has radically progressed during his race-history; at most he has advanced in knowledge of the physical world, in Science, in the handling of his surroundings, in his purely external and utilitarian use of the secret laws of Nature “ (Aurobindo 1949 p832)....
There are six sections in this paper:
I) Why Sri Aurobindo would not believe in Intelligent Design
2) Darwinian Fundamentalism: reductionism, pluralism, play
3) Anticipating Science & Society
4) Complexity and the Dialectics of the Visible and Invisible
5) The Illusion of Human Progress and the Ideal of Human Unity
6) The Dialectics of Biology and Culture: science, ecology & economics more »
A Review of Dipesh Chakrabarty's "Provincializing Europe" by Amit Chaudhuri (London Review of Books) Debashish
AntiMatters vol 3 no 4 is out koantum
Classicism, post-classicism and Ranjabati Sircar’s work: re-defining the terms of Indian contemporary dance discourses by Alessandra Lopez y Royo Debashish
LACMA 111909 - Debashish Banerji Debashish
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Within the limits of capitalism, economizing means taking care - Bernard Stiegler