Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
Cesare Casarino, Antonio Negri
Cesare Casarino and Antonio Negri, In Praise of the Common: A Conversation on Philosophy and Politics, U of Minnesota Press, 2008, 312pp., $24.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780816647439.
Reviewed by Jason Read, University of Southern Maine
oth formats, becoming in the end something unique. It is also a book that not only became something different than was initially intended, but which also explicitly states this difference. The book was conceived as a series of interviews that would address the historical background of Antonio Negri's thought, the tumultuous period of political action and philosophical reflection of the Italian sixties and seventies that remains largely unknown in the Anglo-American world despite the popularity of Empire and Multitude. However, as these conversations developed they became less about the past, less a matter of one person interviewing another about his experiences, and more about the present and future. The interview became a conversation. Unlike an interview, a conversation is determined less by an asymmetry between the one who knows and the one who asks than by the production of some common understanding. In Casarino's terms, "Conversation is the language of the common" (1).
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Religion and the Specter of the West: Sikhism, India, Postcoloniality, and the Politics of Translation
Arvind-Pal Singh Mandair
Cloth, 536 pages,
$44.00 ($55.00 )
View Sale / £38.00
Arguing that intellectual movements, such as deconstruction, postsecular theory, and political theology, have different implications for cultures and societies that live with the debilitating effects of past imperialisms, Arvind Mandair unsettles the politics of knowledge construction in which the category of "religion" continues to be central. Through a case study of Sikhism, he launches an extended critique of religion as a cultural universal. At the same time, he presents a portrait of how certain aspects of Sikh tradition were reinvented as "religion" during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
India's imperial elite subtly recast Sikh tradition as a sui generis religion, which robbed its teachings of their political force. In turn, Sikhs began to define themselves as a "nation" and a "world religion" that was separate from, but parallel to, the rise of the Indian state and global Hinduism. Rather than investigate these processes in isolation from Europe, Mandair shifts the focus closer to the political history of ideas, thereby recovering part of Europe's repressed colonial memory.
Mandair rethinks the intersection of religion and the secular in discourses such as history of religions, postcolonial theory, and recent continental philosophy. Though seemingly unconnected, these discourses are shown to be linked to a philosophy of "generalized translation" that emerged as a key conceptual matrix in the colonial encounter between India and the West. In this riveting study, Mandair demonstrates how this philosophy of translation continues to influence the repetitions of religion and identity politics in the lives of South Asians, and the way the academy, state, and media have analyzed such phenomena.
About the Author
Arvind-Pal S. Mandair teaches at the University of Michigan. He is a founding coeditor of the journal Sikh Formations: Religion, Culture, and Theory.