7 November 2014, 12:00–14:00–22:00 / Utrecht
Lecture and Open Seminar with Leela Gandhi Friday, 7 November 2014
Lecture, 12:00–14:00, Academiegebouw (Maskeradezaalroom), Domplein 29
Open Seminar, 19:00–22:00, Casco – Office for Art, Design and Theory, Lange Nieuwstraat 7
With Kodwo Eshun and Anjalika Sagar of The Otolith Group as official conversants.
For the Open Seminar dinner is prepared by vegan chef and activist Mari Pitkanen. Given seating and food are limited, to reserve your place, please e-mail Ying Que.
Casco hosts a lecture and Open Seminar in which Leela Gandhi offers an alternative reading of anti-colonial struggle, constructing the history of transnational lifestyles, and modes of self-work.
Leela Gandhi is the author of books including The Common Cause: Postcolonial Ethics and the Practice of Democracy, 1900-1955 (2014) and Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin de Siècle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship (2006). In her work, she offers an exceptional reading of anti-colonial struggle in light of democratic and transnational practices. Her research concerning the history of transnational lifestyles and modes of self-work evolves a “minor” intimate style of being global. She focuses on dissident practices of gender, sexuality, prayer, and art; these practices often take the form of “moral imperfectionism” – making oneself less rather than more – and may well comprise the lost content of radical democratic thought that can be key to its future elaboration.
Her lecture departs from a meditation on the poetic encounter between the Indian anti-colonial leader M.K. Gandhi and the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa in the troubled early twentieth-century period. Drawing further from the aforementioned books, she highlights queer practices of self-reduction and minor globality as germane to the ethical content of democracy and the enterprise of becoming common today. The Open Seminar that follows in the evening is an occasion to closely converse with Leela Gandhi and elaborate on and debate her proposed notions such as self-work, anti-care of the self, and the common cause against the background of contemporary social movements and their associated practices. As she notes, these notions are related to “ethics of imperfection” in opposition to the ethos of perfectionism “across imperialism, fascism, and new liberalism, characterized by an exclusion of the ordinary, the unexceptional, and the unremarkable.”
The publications The Common Cause (2014) and Affective Communities (2006) are available for purchase at both events, with thanks to Utrecht-based political bookstore De Rooie Rat.
Leela Gandhi is John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English at Brown University. She is also Senior Fellow of the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University. Receiving her DPhil and MPhil from the University of Oxford, previous positions include teaching at the University of Chicago, the University of Delhi, and La Trobe University, as well as visiting professorships in Australia, Denmark, India, Italy, and Iran. Gandhi is a founding co-editor of the journal Postcolonial Studies and editorial board member of Postcolonial Text. Her latest book The Common Cause: Postcolonial Ethics and the Practice of Democracy, 1900-1955 (2014) is about the confluence of democracy and ethics within the scene of early twentieth-century anti-colonialism and anti-fascism. Other publications include: Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin de Siècle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship (2006); England Through Colonial Eyes in Twentieth Century Fiction (co-author) (2001); Measures of Home: Poems (2000); and Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction (1998). Gandhi lives and works in Chicago.