In recent years, postcolonial theory has emerged as the most influential scholarly framework for understanding the Global South. It is known for its criticism of Western theories, especially Marxism, and as not only being inadequate but even complicit in Europe’s imperial project. But while the concerns of postcolonial theory are legitimate, its alternatives are not.  In fact, under the guise of its critique of Eurocentrism, the theory has resurrected many of the oldest European myths about the East.  Through an examination of some key postcolonial thinkers, we show that it fails both as a framework and as political critique.

Vivek Chibber is a professor of sociology at New York University. His latest book is Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital.

Thursday, March 5, 20.00

Technological Utopianism in the early USSR, and what does that mean for us now - Joost Kircz

Abstract

Since the disastrous results of Stalinist plan economy on almost all emancipatory fields the Bolshevik revolution tried to accomplish, technological utopianism is hardly a theme in socialist theory. However, the technological
advances enabled many agricultural, societal and communicative achievements, which raise worldwide (uneven) welfare, as well as helped many democratic emancipatory movements. This essay reviews two books on the early enthusiastic phase of Russian socialism, were hopes, dreams and experiments dovetailed with a trust in the benign role science and technology will play in changing the world to the better.
The first book by Josephson (2010) eloquently reviews the downturn of the bureaucratic institutionalised equation of technology with progress. The second book by Krementsov (2011) deals with the utopian ideas of Bogdanov in his dream to collectivise people: socially, culturally and biologically.
Both books challenge utopianism but, more importantly, are well written studies we need for present-day reflections on the role and use of science and technology in future emancipatory developments.

This lecture examines the role of anti-slavery and slave resistance in the elaboration of 'human rights' and the misappropriation of such ideas by Western colonialism and militarism.

Robin Blackburn is a historian and sociologist, and one of New Left Review’s editors. Blackburn teaches at the New School in New York and the University of Essex in the UK. He is the author of many books, including The Making of New World Slavery, The Overthrow of Colonial Slavery, Age Shock, Banking on Death, and The American Crucible.

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