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Subjects of modernity

Time-space, disciplines, margins

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Saurabh Dube

This book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other, complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. The spatial/temporal templates reveal how modern enticements and antinomies, far from being analytical abstractions, intimate instead ontological attributes and experiential dimensions of the worlds in which we live, and the spaces and times that we inhabit and articulate. Then, the book considers the oppositions and enchantments, the contradictions and contentions, and the identities and ambivalences spawned under modernity. At the same time, rather than approach such antinomies, enticements, and ambiguities as analytical errors or historical lacks, which await their correction or overcoming, it attempts to critically yet cautiously unfold these elements as constitutive of modern worlds. The book draws on social theory, political philosophy, and other scholarship in the critical humanities in order to make its claims concerning the mutual binds between everyday oppositions, routine enchantments, temporal ruptures, and spatial hierarchies of a modern provenance. Then, it turns to issues of identity and modernity. Finally, the book explores the terms of modernism on the Indian subcontinent.

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Maps of modernity

Antinomies and enticements

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Saurabh Dube

This chapter considers aspects of the interplay of modernity and history, as entailing pervasive procedures of the temporalization of space and the spatialization of time. We have seen that these protocols have twin dimensions: on the one hand, they entail routine projections of historical time as necessarily homogeneous and yet founded on inaugural spatial ruptures; on the other

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Margins of modernity

Identities and incitements

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Saurabh Dube

This chapter focuses on questions and contentions of identity and modernity, entailing stipulations of time and space. Instead of approaching identity as an already given entity that is principally antithetical to modernity, in speaking of identities my reference is to wide-ranging processes of formations of subjects, expressing not only particular personhoods but also collective

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Subjects of modernity

An introduction

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Saurabh Dube

This book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other, complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. My

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Intimations of modernity

Time and space

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Saurabh Dube

This chapter is cast as a personal narrative. It unravels how I arrived at inklings and understandings of space and time – alongside those of disciplines and subjects, modernity and identity – that were explored in the Introduction and which lie at the core of this book. At stake are intimations that are at once familiar and strange. For, born to anthropologist parents, I

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Disciplines of modernity

Entanglements and ambiguities

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Saurabh Dube

This chapter discusses aspects of the interplay between the disciplines and modernity, as mediated by temporal-spatial imperatives. It focuses on the relationship between anthropology and history in order to discuss formations of modern knowledge as themselves forming critical subjects and crucial procedures of modernity. On the one hand, I explore the mutual interchange of time

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Modern subjects

An epilogue

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Saurabh Dube

This epilogue turns attention to salient subjects of a modernist provenance on the Indian subcontinent. Now, in South Asia, a certain haziness regarding modernism and modernity derives not only from the manner in which they can be elided with each other, but the fact that they are both frequently filtered through the optics of modernization. At stake is the acute, albeit altering

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Sabine Clarke

, the interventions that occurred under the aegis of the CPRC were still intended to be highly visible representations of imperial power; concrete manifestations of Britain’s commitment to modernising its colonial possessions. A vision of modernity for Trinidad was expressed through the construction of chemical and microbiological laboratories furnished with the most up-to-date equipment and, importantly, which functioned as world centres. The CMRI in particular was expected to be a symbol of nascent Trinidadian modernity as it endowed the island with the ability to

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Possessing History and American Innocence

James Baldwin, William F. Buckley, Jr., and the 1965 Cambridge Debate

Daniel Robert McClure

The 1965 debate at Cambridge University between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr., posed the question: “Has the American Dream been achieved at the Expense of the American Negro?” Within the contours of the debate, Baldwin and Buckley wrestled with the ghosts of settler colonialism and slavery in a nation founded on freedom and equality. Framing the debate within the longue durée, this essay examines the deep cultural currents related to the American racial paradox at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Underscoring the changing language of white resistance against black civil rights, the essay argues that the Baldwin and Buckley debate anticipated the ways the U.S. would address racial inequality in the aftermath of the civil rights era and the dawn of neoliberalism in the 1970s.

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Losing Real Life

James Baldwin and the Ethics of Trauma

Mikko Tuhkanen

This essay proposes that we turn to James Baldwin’s work to assess the cost of, and think alternatives to, the cultures of traumatization whose proliferation one witnesses in contemporary U.S. academia. Beginning with some recent examples, the essay briefly places these cultures into a genealogy of onto-ethics whose contemporary forms arose with the reconfiguration of diasporic histories in the idioms of psychoanalysis and deconstructive philosophy in 1990s trauma theory. Baldwin speaks to the contemporary moment as he considers the outcome of trauma’s perpetuation in an autobiographical scene from “Notes of a Native Son.” In this scene—which restages Bigger Thomas’s murderous compulsion in Native Son—he warns us against embracing one’s traumatization as a mode of negotiating the world. In foregoing what Sarah Schulman has recently called the “duty of repair,” such traumatized engagement prevents all search for the kind of “commonness” whose early articulation can be found in Aristotle’s query after “the common good” (to koinon agathon). With Baldwin, the present essay suggests the urgency of returning to the question of “the common good”: while mindful of past critiques, which have observed in this concept’s deployment a sleight-of-hand by which hegemonic positions universalize their interests, we should work to actualize the unfinished potential of Aristotle’s idea. Baldwin’s work on diasporic modernity provides an indispensable archive for this effort.