With the participation of ANTHONY BOGUES and RANJANA KHANNA

June 28 - June 29, 2017
4.30 - 6.30 pm

This 2-day workshop will address the urgency to rethink for our times the conceptual weight that the idea of the "human" has acquired over two centuries of critical thought. We propose the following scenarios and problematics for rethinking the human:

1. The limits of reading 'the social' in terms of the exclusively human and contemporary challenges to the Durkheimian sociological imagination in which society is 'the genus beyond which nothing else exists'.  The degree to which the social, or entities like the city itself, emerge now more than ever at the point of entanglement and disentanglement of humans, materials, technical objects, and animate and inanimate bodies.

2. Climate change and the human as a geological agent. This undoes modernist understandings of the human as an historical agent which shapes its destiny either at a distance from nature or through mastery over nature.

3. Crisis of the ‘human’ as a universal in international human rights discourses in the face of escalating global violence, civil wars and forced expulsions.

4. Post-human futures in the era of genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. A consideration of an actual, as well as an imagined world, in which technologically enhanced forms of human corporality are fashioned and future trajectories of race are recalibrated.

5. The reconstituting of the 'archive' in the aftermath of anthropocentrism.

Readings on these topics will be circulated in advance with the expectation that all graduate participants will be active contributors to the workshop discussion.

Debjani Ganguly works in the fields of world literature, postcolonial studies and the South Asian Studies. Her research interests include the contemporary Anglophone novel, literary forms in the new media age, literature and human rights, caste and dalit studies, language worlds in colonial/postcolonial South Asia, and Indian Ocean literary worlds from 1750-1950. In recent years, Debjani has researched the links between globalism, information technology, ethnic violence and humanitarian connectivity through the genre of the novel, the result of which is a book with Duke UP entitled "This Thing Called the World: The Contemporary Novel as Global Form" (2016). She is the author of "Caste, Colonialism and Countermodernity" (2005) and coeditor of "Edward Said: The Legacy of a Public Intellectual" (2007) and "Rethinking Gandhi and Nonviolent Relationality: Global Perspectives" (2007). She has contributed essays to two recent Cambridge UP volumes, "The Cambridge Companion to the Postcolonial Novel", ed. Ato Quayson (2015) and "The Values of Literary Studies", ed. Ronan Macdonald (2015). She co-edits, with Ato Quayson and Neil Ten Kortenaar, the "Cambridge Journal of Postcolonial Literary Inquiry". Debjani has held visiting fellowships at the University of Chicago, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 2015 she was on the seminar faculty of the Harvard Institute for World Literature. She is a Life Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge, Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, and Member on the International Advisory Boards of the Harvard Institute for World Literature, the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), Duke University, and the Duke-Bologna School in Global Studies and Critical Theory. Prior to her arrival in UVA, Debjani was Director of the Humanities Research Centre (2007-2014) and Associate Professor of Literature at the Australian National University, Canberra

Sarah Nuttall is the Director of WiSER since January 2013, where she was a prominent Senior Researcher from 2000 until 2010. Born in South Africa and educated at the Universities of (then) Natal and Cape Town, Sarah won a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to read for a D.Phil. at Oxford. A literary scholar by training, Sarah’s varied research interests and prolific publication record have established her as a leading cultural commentator and critic as well as one of the leading scholars of her generation. She has lectured at the University of Stellenbosch and, for the past five years, has been a Visiting Professor at Yale University and Duke University. Sarah has edited several path-breaking books; her influential monograph, Entanglement: Literary and Cultural Reflections on Post-apartheid, explores mutuality, transgression and embodiment in contemporary South Africa. Sarah has published in various journals including in Cultural Studies, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, Journal of South African Studies, Public Culture, Third Text and Social Dynamics. She is a member of the editorial boards of Journal of Southern African Studies, Humanity, Cultural Studies, Social Dynamics, English Studies in Africa, and English Academy Review