Imperial Entanglements: Rethinking Modernity with and beyond Zygmunt Bauman

Thursday, 28 January 2021, 5:00pm - 6:30pm, Online
University of Leeds, 21/22 and 28/29 January, 2021, 4pm (GMT) 

 An open-to-the-public online lecture series co-hosted by the Bauman Institute and the Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies (University of Leeds), together with the Postcolonial Intellectuals and their European Publics Network (PIN) 

One of the most prominent and influential intellectuals of our times, Zygmunt Bauman – who had a longstanding association with the University of Leeds –envisaged and practised sociology as a dialogic exercise. In that spirit, this online lecture series proceeds by inviting a dialogue between Bauman and postcolonial studies. Though he is better known for being a postmodern than a postcolonial figure, the series seeks to turn the tables by asking what Bauman might have to offer postcolonial studies, and by corollary what postcolonial critics, who have only rarely engaged with him, might have to say about his work. In stimulating new reflections on Bauman’s work, the series also aims to produce a suitably nuanced reconsideration of the function of postcolonial intellectuals at a time when the idea of intellectual labour is increasingly democratised, but democracy itself – not least in Europe – is increasingly at threat. 

LECTURE THREE: Thursday 28 January, 2021 at 4pm (GMT) [live lecture] 

 Professor Dr Shalini Randeria (Institute of Human Sciences, Vienna) 

Introduced by Prof. Graham Huggan (University of Leeds) 

Engaging critically with Zygmunt Bauman’s contribution to our understanding of modernity, which played an important role in shifting the debate beyond the teleology of unilinear modernisation, this lecture addresses the Eurocentrism that characterises not only classical but also contemporary sociological theorisations of modernity, including that of Bauman. It will examine some recent alternative theorisations in terms of plural, regional or vernacular modernities. In a postcolonial perspective, it will be argued that only a consideration of imperial spatial and temporal entanglements allows us to grasp modernity as relational in the past and in the present. It illustrates these using ethnographic material from my own field research in India on legal entanglements.  

Shalini Randeria is IWM Rector and Professor of Social Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva, where she also directs the Albert Hirschman Center on Democracy. Her research interests include anthropology of globalisation, law, state and civil society, postcolonial theory and plural modernities.