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Colonial Aphasia: Race and Disabled Histories in France




18.00 Registration and refreshments, 18.30 Lecture, 19.30 Networking and refreshments

Series: Ethnic and Racial Studies Annual Lecture 2010

Colonial Aphasia: Race and Disabled Histories in France

Colonial histories may violently register the tensions of the moments in which they are recalled or they may be disabled, rendered to the present as vestige, shorn of the capacity to make connections.  This lecture reflects on the confused space in between, on the conceptual processes, academic conventions, and affective practices that both elicit and elude recognition of how colonialism’s racial histories matter in contemporary France.

In examining the nature of the recent and belated surge of interest over the last decade in postcolonial studies and colonial history, Ann Laura Stoler will focus on the political issues, personal unease, and scholarly dispositions that have made the racial coordinates of empire assumed as present but strangely set apart from the current debate. She treats “colonial aphasia” as a political disorder and troubled psychic space. Rather than the unreflective idioms of “colonial amnesia” and the preponderant use of the term “forgetting”- she uses it to capture the repeated frequency with which the violences of French colonialism have been “discovered” and “exposed.” At issue is what has been said but not heard, what is known but not said, and what achieved labour has rendered that history misplaced but not misunderstood.
Ann Laura Stoler is Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research in New York since 2004.  She has worked for some thirty years on colonial governance, racial epistemologies, and the sexual politics of empire. She has lectured widely throughout Europe, South Africa, the UK, Australia, Canada and the US.

Her books  include: Capitalism and Confrontation in Sumatra’s Plantation Belt, l870-1979 (Yale 1985),  Race and the Education of Desire (Duke 1995), Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power (California 2002), Along the Archival Grain (Princeton 2009), and the edited volumes, Tensions of Empire, with Frederick Cooper (California, 1997), Haunted by Empire (Duke 2006), Imperial Formations, with Carole McGranahan and Peter Perdue (SAR 2007) and Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination (Duke, forthcoming).

The Department of Sociology and the Centre on Race, Ethnicity and Migration

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12.00am - 12.00amThursday 20th May 2010

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