The Second Symposium: Deorientalizing Citizenship?

Monday, 12 November 2012, 09:30 - Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 18:30
Goodenough College, London

Our Second Symposium Deorientalizing citizenship? Experiments in political subjectivity has taken place on 12-13 November 2012 at the Goodenough College in London. The symposium was organised by the Oecumene: Citizenship after orientalism research project.

Thinking about 'citizenship after orientalism' involves addressing two theoretical issues. Firstly, what do we understand by orientalism thirty years after Edward Said's seminal investigation? How can orientalism be re-articulated beyond its cultural or representational forms? Secondly, what do we mean by citizenship as a possible mode of political subjectivity? Is any articulation of political subjectivity which enacts a claim to rights, or to the right to claim rights, to be understood as citizenship?

Keynote speakers Saba Mahmood (University of California, Berkeley) and Walter Mignolo (Duke University) together with a selection of panelists addressed these questions from multi-disciplinary perspectives.

Download the conference programme (PDF document)

View titles and abstracts of presentations (Link)

Programme

The Keynotes

Walter Mignolo (Duke University)

Abstract and audio

Video of the keynote

Saba Mahmood (University of California, Berkeley)

Abstract and audio

Video of the keynote

Panel 1: Citizenship, colonialism, orientalism

Monday 12 November 2012, 10.30 - 12.45

This panel traced the relations and tensions between Western colonial enterprises, orientalism and the institution of citizenship. Though intertwined in complex ways, these tensions are also distinct. How can these strands be pulled apart in order to understand how they have operated and continue to operate singly and together? How have colonial dominations and Empires acted upon the particular configuration of political subjectivity called citizenship and how do they continue to do so? The panel aims to address the following questions: Is 'political orientalism' different from other forms of orientalism? If so, in what ways? Was orientalism a disposit if at play in the establishment of law as the language of state authority? How can we think of orientalism and colonialism in relation to the way in which the 'global south' is currently constructed? How do we investigate their traces in citizenship practices today?

Speakers

Sukanya Banerjee (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)

Jack Harrington (The Open University)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Alessandra Marino (The Open University)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Meyda Yeğenoğlu (Istanbul Bilgi Üniversitesi).

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Panel 2: Democratizing politics, decolonizing citizenship

Monday 12 November 2012, 14.15 - 16.30

Having questioned the institution of citizenship as euro-centric and inherited from colonialism, the panel asked what images of the citizen might emerge if we think about democratic politics 'after orientalism'. From the postcolonial nationalist struggles to anti-globalization resistances, from the uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East to the 'Occupy movements', what democratic demands are advocated and circulate as forms of resistance against states and supranational powers? How does the signifier 'democratic' operate differently in different contexts? Can it question what is conceived as 'political'? Departing from these interrogations, how can we think of alternative subjectivities (plural, communal, religious, intimate, etc) and informal political actors (non-elected representatives, religious leaders, big men, private armies, vigilantism, local fixers, etc) operating in postcolonial societies?

Speakers

Bela Bhatia (Tata Institute of Social Sciences)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera (Birkbeck, University of London)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Charles Hirschkind (UC Berkeley)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Panel 3: The universal after orientalism

Tuesday 13 November 2012, 10.30 - 12.45

The access to citizenship of 'former' colonial, sexual, religious, racial, indigenous others (who became rights-bearing subjects in that process) and the expansion of rights has promoted a potential universalisation of citizenship. Despite the critique of universalism made from multiculturalist, pluralist and feminist perspectives, the tension with regards to the horizon of universalised rights survives. To what extent have the universalist assumptions about the subject of politics, merely understood as a human subject of rights, limited the scope of politics to an euro-centric view? This panel discussed alterity as a condition of citizenship in ways that question universalist ideals. It brought together speakers whose work troubles the distinction between the human and the citizen and interrogates the scope of the universal in relation to forms of political subjectivation.

Speakers

Gurminder Bhambra (Warwick)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Sudeep Dasgupta (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Antke Engel (Institute for Queer Theory)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Vivienne Jabri (King's College)

Abstract and audio

Video of the presentation

Roundtable 'Citizenship After Orientalism: An Unfinished Project’

Tuesday 13 November 2012, 14.15 - 16.30

The Oecumene Project team members discussed their first collective publication, a double Special Issue of Citizenship Studies entitled, ‘Citizenship After Orientalism: An Unfinished Project.’ Published half way through the European Research Council funded project, this was its first statement on how citizenship has been understood as a narrowly western concept and what techniques researchers can use to write about citizenship after orientalism. With a global reach and a blend of approaches from anthropology to legal studies, from history to sociology, from postcolonial to European studies, the Special Issue shows how widely orientalism has shaped our understanding of the citizen and how innovative the field can be once we attempt to write about citizenship after orientalism.

Link to the Special Issue of Citizenship Studies journal.

Further event information

Listen to all the audio materials of the symposium (including Engin Isin's introduction and the panels discussions).

For further information please refer to the preliminary conference programme (PDF document) as well as the detailed description of the conference panels.

The Symposium is organised by the European Research Council funded project Oecumene: Citizenship after orientalism based at The Open University, which will offer a series of symposiums. Each symposium will focus on specific aspects connected with reconsidering citizenship beyond Eurocentrism.

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2nd Symposium Programme (PDF document)177.49 KB

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Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2).

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