January – Race and the Human




Classical liberalism leveraged and authorized racial distinctions as part of the Transatlantic commercial world that included the slave trade. Is the same true for neoliberal global markets? How should we connect populist neo-racism—intensified Islamophobia, the “rebirth” of white supremacy, resurgent anti-Semitism—with the racial and ethnic stakes of neoliberalism? What racial knowledges underpin contemporary neoliberalism, and how have they been produced as knowledges in the first place? What myths about “race” and failures to specify “the human” underpin anxieties of nationalism that are manifest in contemporary neo-populist movements? How has race been made to serve the aims of neoliberal capital, and in what ways might human rights discourses, including discourses of dehumanization and subjectivation, also be conscripted in service of capital’s ends? What is the “reason” of race? Is there a subject to be specified beyond or outside of extant discourses on race and the human? What forms of rationality underlie these questions?

We are joined this week by Denise Ferreira da Silva, author of numerous works including the field-clearing monograph Toward a Global Idea of Race (2007), on the careers of the post-Enlightenment subject she terms the “transparent I” and the role that race has played in modern scientific and historical thought. Ferreira da Silva has shown that raciality functions through logics of exclusion and obliteration that serve capital. Her forthcoming Unpayable Debt continues her longstanding interrogation of the relationships between race, colonialism, and global capital and the question of the “im/possibility of global/racial justice.” Our conversation will extend to topics including contemporary discourses of post-racialism and technoliberal futurity, and it will lay the groundwork for next month’s seminar on neoliberalism and Subjectivity.

Curator: Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan (English)

Lecture (open to the public): Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 6pm

Seminar: Friday, January 15, 2021 at 11am