Labor, Philosophy, and Change

2014-15

2014

Announcing a talk by Deepak Mehta, Department of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics

 

WORKSHOP

 

Object/ Fabrication

 

Deepak Mehta

Associate Professor, Dept. of Sociology, Delhi School of Economics

 

14 October (Tuesday), 1:00 – 3:00

221 Kroeber Hall (Gifford Room)

 

Sponsored by:

Townsend Center Working Group on Labour, Philosophy and Change

 

The overall conduct of the workshop will be informal, in which the speaker and participants will reflect on their work together in light of a few indicated themes and pre-circulated readings. What kind of ethnography results from focusing on “something in the making” versus the poetics of an object or practice? How do we understand an approach which works from the time of the object, rather than of the person and sociality? Where might we locate the limit at which waste passes into death, or vice versa? Why do we not (or when do we) find funerals for objects as such? Possible authors/ concepts on which we may focus would include: Hans-Jorg Rheinberger on 'fabrication', Gilbert Simondon on 'discontinuous improvement' and Cornelius Castoriadis on the distinction between 'code' and 'technique'.

 

The reading will be: Simondon, G. (1958) On the Mode of Existence of Technical Objects. Paris: Aubier, Editions Montaigne. (Chapter I, particularly Section 3)

If you are interested in attending, please do send a mail to: wstafford.jr@berkeley.edu so that you can get a copy of the reading and we can get a head count for refreshments/ lunch.

Also note, Prof. Mehta will be giving a talk on 9 October (Thursday), at 5pm at the Institute for South Asia Studies titled: “The Ayodhya Dispute: The Absent Mosque, State of Exception and the Jural Deity”.

 

Meeting time: 4-5.30pm, Free Speech Movement Cafe; any changes are notified a week in advance

 

October 24

Soumyabrata Choudhury, Theatre, number, Event: Three Studies on the Relationship between Sovereignty, power and Truth i(IIAS, 2013)

pdf to be uploaded next week.

November 14

Frederic Lordon, Willing Slaves of Capital (Verso, 2014)

November 24

Saitya Brata Das, The Promise of Time Towards a Phenomenology of Promise i(IIAS, 2011)

December 8

Discussing Das, Choudhury, and Lordon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2013-14, we will continue to attract scholars from the fields of anthropology, sociology, philosophy, critical theory, film theory, and area studies to explore the pressing questions in the fields of labor, philosophy, and change. In addition, the group will host one talk, organize a mini-labor and philosophy seminar, and a mini-film event in 2013-14. The group aims to meet twice a month (2nd and 4th Fridays) at the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies Library in Dwinelle Hall.

The new schedule:

http://townsendlab.berkeley.edu/sites/all/files/imagecache/project_description_image/project_images/maurya%20coin-chandraguptaiionhorse.jpg

Labor, philosophy, and change

2013-14

primary coordinator: Abhijeet Paul, SSEAS & Critical Theory

abhijeet@berkeley.edu

In 2013-14, the working group, Labor, philosophy, and change will continue to attract scholars from the fields of anthropology, sociology, philosophy, critical theory, film theory, and area studies. In addition, the group will host one talk, organize a mini-labor and philosophy seminar, and a mini-film event in 2013-14. The group aims to meet twice a month (2nd and 4th Fridays) at the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies Library in Dwinelle Hall.

The broad working activities of the group in 2013-14 will be as follows:

2013

August

Introduction—general meeting

September 26
Vivek Chibber, Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital (2013)

October 10
The National Rural Employment Generation Scheme (NREGS), a critical survey in two parts
Discussants: William Stafford, Jr. & Abhijeet Paul

October 22

Host talk by Prof. Kannan Muthukrishnan, French Institute of Pondicherry on Dalit literature and labor
Title of talk: TBA
Dr. Muthukrishnan’s institutional link: http://www.ifpindia.org/Kannan-M.html

November 26
mini-labor seminar, TBA (co-sponsored by the Center for South Asia Studies)
TBA

Kalyan Sanyal, Rethinking Capitalist Development: Primitive Accumulation, Governmentality and Post-Colonial Capitalism (2007)

December 3

2014

January 30
Paul Bowles and John Harriss, Globalization and Labour in China and India - Impacts and Responses (2010)

February 6
Gayatri Spivak, An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2013)

March 6-7
no meeting

April 22
Peter and Paul According to Bergson and Marx: Towards A Multirealist Methodology for an Anti-Global Society | Hoon Song

Peter and Paul According to Bergson and Marx: Towards A Multirealist Methodology for an Anti-Global Society

Hoon Song, Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
 
Tuesday, April 22, 5-7 pm
221 Kroeber Hall, UC Berkeley
 
Practically every major Western theorist of note has a passage or two about Peter and Paul. Both Henri Bergson and Karl Marx enlist the services of Peter and Paul to exemplify the irreducibility of the virtual, non-livable dimension of the “All.” Specifically, for Bergson, it is to demonstrate the shared “single time” of simultaneity. For Marx, it is to show the multiplicity of contemporary times shared by “humanity” – read antagonism or historicity. This talk introduces the so-called multirealist or multinaturalist turn in the contemporary anthropology by way of Bergson’s and Marx’s Peter and Paul. The talk concludes with a preparatory methodological note on the usefulness of the multirealist conceit of the non-livable All for approaching North Korea, a society which conceives itself against the global multiculturalist consensus. (Song)
 
Hoon Song teaches in the Department of Anthropology at University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. His work spans interests in psychoanalysis, animality and the materiality of (sovereign) power. His early work comparatively explores the issue of self-reflexivity in ethnography as well as in animal-human relations. Titled Pigeon Trouble: Bestiary Biopolitics in a Deindustrialized America, his earlier ethnography figures a group of Pennsylvania miners' relation with pigeons in the contexts of their conspiracy theory and "whiteness," all encountered through his own ornithophobia. His recent work explores the ontotheological/magical dimension of sovereign power in North Korea's political philosophy, specifically in the representation of the leader and in the translation of Marxism.
 
Co-presented by the Department of Anthropology with The Program in Medical Anthropology, The Townsend Center Working Group on Labor, Philosophy and Change, The Townsend Center Working Group on Anthropological Inquiry, and The Program in Critical Theory.

 

 

2012 activities

We aim to read two seminal texts of political philosophy: Kautilya’s Arthaśāstra (250 BCE)—an ancient Indian Sanskrit text on polity, economy, and ethics—and Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (1532). The two texts raise fundamental questions about the individual’s place in politics and economy in two different temporalities. What binds them together is their quest for the meaning of morality and ethics in the context of property, power, and polity. Especially, the question of state power and the latter’s relations with the individual subject, community, and society are considered important. Both works have contributed to centuries of work on philosophy, legal studies, governance, and political, economic, and social thought. To name a few, Marx, Gramsci, Kosambi, Arendt, Schmitt, Weber, and many others, were aware of both the texts. Max Weber, for one, thought that The Prince was rather mild in comparison to this ancient Indian treatise on governmentality, ethics, and power.

Through a reading of these texts, we are interested in understanding what it means to be a modern subject who must toil and work for an impersonal state, economy, and polity. More importantly, what forms of political agency does the modern subject have under severe constraints of the polity and economy—which often border on totalitarian forms of control and political behavior?

The group meets every second Friday 4-6 pm, Fall 2012-Spring 2013, 341 Dwinelle (SSEAS Library)

Required texts
Kautilya, Arthaśāstra trans. L. N. Rangarajan. Penguin, 1992
(preferably, R. P. Kangle's 3 volume work available from Motilal Banarasidass)

Machiavelli, The Prince. Simon and Brown, 2011

Guest Speaker: Dr. Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay, Goldsmiths College, University of London

Title of talk: "Taking Callon to Calcutta: Did Economist-administrators Make Market in the Colony? An Argument out of India"

Date: Tentatively 9 October. Please watch this space for any date changes.

Dr. Bhaskar Mukhopadhyay's The Rumor of Globalization: Desecrating the Global from Vernacular Margins is just published from Columbia University Press (2012). Link below:

http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-70292-8/the-rumor-of-globalization

 Pages to be read TBA. This site will be updated regularly.

August 31
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Introduction to the texts: radical political philosophy

September 14
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
D D Kosambi’s notes on ancient Indian history and philosophy
Romila Thapar on early India
Carl Schmitt, Concept of the Political

 

September 28
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Weber, Economy and Society
R C Dutt, Economic History of India and/or India in the Victorian Age

October 12
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Gramsci, The Modern Prince

October 26
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Marx, Grundrisse, Capital
Louis Althusser, For Marx

November 9
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Michel Foucault, Hermeneutics of the Subject
Alain Badiou, Theory of the Subject
Slavoj Zizek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Center of Political Ontology

November 23
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition

 

Spring 2013

February 1
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Gayatri Spivak, Critique of Postcolonial Reason

February 15
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Kalyan Sanyal, Rethinking Capitalist Development: Primitive Accumulation, Governmentality and Post-Colonial Capitalism

 

March 1
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization

 

March 15
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
G. Aloysius, Ashish Nandy, on caste, nationalism

 

April 5
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
TBA

April 19
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
TBA

May 3
Arthaśāstra, The Prince
TBA

 

 

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