Research Seminar: "Western democracy-promotion and postcolonial subjectivity: Competing figures of the (resisting) postcolonial subject"

CAST Research Seminar with André Sonnichsen: "Western democracy-promotion and postcolonial subjectivity: Competing figures of the (resisting) postcolonial subject"

Recent developments in a series of postcolonies (most spectacularly Iraq-Syria, Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia) throw into stark relief Western security-and-development policy which, since the end of the Cold War, has aimed at universalising Western, rights-based, representative democracy. Even a cursory analysis must admit to the precariousness of this endeavour and to the proliferation of various forms of resistance to the Western template in an historical context which, according to the West itself, was not meant to witness it. At this watershed between the easy days of post-Cold War universalism and the opening of a perhaps much more pragmatic and limited future, the obvious question must be asked: what exactly is the relationship between postcolonial subjectivity and Western democracy promotion? The article discusses three available figures of the postcolonial subject, namely the neo-liberal subject, the poststructuralist subject and the figure of the postcolonial subaltern. The article suggests that these claims to know the postcolonial subject firstly, enable an assertion about the kind of social order that is suitable to the postcolony of today and secondly, endorse differing repertoires of praxis when postcolonial subjectivities are at odds with the Western template of political order. In the face of such confidences, the actually existing postcolonial subject is being otherwise in practices of “small-r” and “large-R” resistance.

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