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Oecumene: Citizenship After Orientalism

This project, led by Prof Engin Isin, is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2). The project focuses on the interaction between two controversial and contested concepts: citizenship - the process by which belonging is recognised and enacted - and orientalism - the assertion of the superiority of western culture over its eastern counterparts.

The Second Symposium: Deorientalizing Citizenship?

12-13 November 2012

What images of citizenship are emerging in relation to the processes of decolonization and deorientalization? Keynote speakers Saba Mahmood and Walter Mignolo together with a selection of panellists will address this question from multi-disciplinary perspectives.

The possibility of conceiving practices of citizenship after orientalism points to experiments that uncover, rearticulate and provoke subjugated forms of politics. Through addressing the intersections between orientalism, colonialism and citizenship (panel 1), exploring possibilities of democratic politics for decolonizing citizenship (panel 2) and troubling universal claims to rights (panel 3), we ask what images of citizenship are emerging in relation to the process of deorientalization? It is this experimentation itself, rather than its outcomes, that constitutes 'citizenship after orientalism' as a field of investigation.

Keynote speakers

Walter Mignolo (Duke University) Citizenship, Knowledge and the Limits of Humanity (II).
Chair: Encarnacion Gutierrez-Rodriguez (The University of Manchester)

Saba Mahmood (University of California, Berkeley) Religious Liberty, the Minority Problem and Geopolitics.
Chair: Maleiha Malik (King's College, London)

About the project

As regards citizenship, what it means to be a citizen, who can act as a citizen, what obligations derive from citizenship are at the forefront of much political discourse as the nation-state dissolves into regional identities, integrates - or fails to integrate - new social groups, and is transformed by supra-national entities. The question of citizenship lies at the heart of the legitimacy of rule and political subjectivity. What connects citizenship to orientalism is that when we investigate the origins of ideas about (European) citizenship we discover that it is essentially considered a Judeo-Christian development juxtaposed against Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, and Hinduism. The project begins with a critique of the argument that explains the success of European capitalism in terms of differences in social structures that had effectively prevented the emergence of 'citizens' in oriental societies. The project aims to revisit questions of citizenship as political subjectivity in 'orientalized cultures' - Indian, Chinese, Islamic and Indigenous - through 'genealogical investigations' untrammelled by orientalist assumptions. The research methodology is genealogical through which the origins, interpretations and mutations of ideas and actions will be traced through their historical and cultural struggles. The project is deliberately designed to generate disagreements. Rather than working with like-minded collaborators, the project will engage with its antagonists through a series of workshops where opposing views will be debated and disseminated to diverse audiences. Rather than a 'critique' the project is a combination of intervention and invention.

Visit the Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism website

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