Held at the Kevorkian Center, NYU located at 50 Washington Square South, NY 10012
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Panel 1: Revolution
Zahra Ali, Fadi Bardawil, Sara Pursley, and Max Weiss
Abstract: We begin with a concept or question that was at once absent and ever present in our year-long series. We had organized our thought around the more open theme of uprising in part to avoid shackling it to the ideological baggage that comes with revolution. And yet revolution returns—as it always seems to do.
Revolution as a concept seems to defy not only the weight of heavy sentiment around it (tragedy, defeat) but arguably the very historical conditions of its existence (mass labor movements, the vanguard party). The somewhat trite, if not entirely incorrect, evaluation that we live in post-revolutionary times cannot explain why revolution persists. Or, why revolting peoples continue to incite revolution, why they continue to speak in its name.
For all its obituaries and jealously guarded boundaries, revolution ultimately remains open to reconfiguration in new spaces of experience. How then might we rethink the content of revolution from our region and its recent pasts? How might we move beyond the use of revolution as a qualifying judgment, and instead open it up onto events like the Arab revolts and their own pre-histories? How does the last decade of ongoing uprising and counter-revolution–bookended by the peaks of 2011 and 2019/20 and the shifts between them–give us different historical content that might travel under the name, revolution? That is, instead of asking whether or not these events were or are revolutions, can we ask how they are productively changing the concept of revolution?
Panel 2: Decolonization
Arash Davari, Muriam Haleh-Davis, Nate George, and Bikrum Singh Gill
Abstract: Decolonization and revolution were once thought of as synonyms. Not only because decolonization was, as revolution, an “agenda of total disorder” but also because both were, at their core, a promise of futurity.
This, at least historically at the height of the decolonization movement, was a natural coupling. But what of our own present in which the colonial question seems at once salient, even renewed, and yet repressed and, for some, unclear? What might an encounter between the anticolonial imperative and the revolutionary perspective once again do? If we are correct to surmise that the generalized insurgency that is the global present cannot today but confront our colonial question—in all its historical particularity—then how might this change our thinking about collective action?
What otherwise sidelined questions and forms should decolonization open up in the revolutionary perspective? Land? Dispossession? The sovereignty question? The reckoning with past-injury? What might a renewed anticolonial imperative do to the progressive stagism and stubborn universal history still so central to the revolutionary perspective across wide sections of the Left?
Join us for light refreshments in the Kevorkian Center lobby after the panel discussions.