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Africa, America, Europe
Black Atlantic - Platform 3:
Another Modernity
Racial Terror and Human Rights
11.11.2004 20:00
Black Atlantic
Our final platform is centred on an ambitious program of debate and reflection. It addresses some of the conflicts and inconsistencies within modern thought which have been revealed by the critical study of race, racism and colonial history. It suggests that the legacy of the enlightenment project and, indeed of democratic political theory more broadly, has been rather compromised by its immersion in and attachment to the values of white supremacy.
We need to consider why this problem has become so hard to acknowledge and what can be done to repair the damage done by offering freedom, justice and recognition only in colour-coded forms. This is not an insoluble problem and it is ripe for a sustained and detailed exploration. Resolving it as a theoretical or philosophical problem is, of course, intimately connected to the uncertain fate of Europe's racial and ethnic minorities and to the history of the inhospitable treatment they have received at the hands of their resentful hosts who have often been seduced by the certainties of ultra nationalism and racism and used them as a bulwark against the anxieties of globalisation and economic turbulence.
This concluding part of our season is particularly concerned to locate German thinkers and traditions of scholarship in revised accounts of the operation of colonial power, the development of racial science and the racialisation of modern governance. It is scholarly in tone but solidly practical in intent. We anticipate that it will resonate widely with the political and juridical agenda being developed in response to the fortification of Europe and the global pursuit of the "war on terror" by the US empire.
We are interested not only in the political and cultural changes that followed the appearance of people from Europe's former colonies inside Europe, but in how the distinctive habits and style of colonial administration were brought back into the core of the imperial systems, how they may have contributed to the genocidal atrocities of the twentieth century and how they endure even today in the political, legal and social exclusion of refugees, asylum-seekers and other shadowy figures whose civic marginality has often placed them outside of the operation of normal democratic rules.
This pattern necessitates a more academic shape which will encompass a dynamic sequence of lectures, seminars, and discussion. We will start with a consideration of the legacy of the Haitian Revolution and the challenges that it presented to the European thinkers who were its contemporaries. From there, we will move into a discussion of the rational irrationality of racial science. This will be followed by a consideration of geo-political analysis which is understood to be a governmental science with strong roots in racial theory. At that point, the history and significance of the Berlin conference in which the world's great powers divided up the African continent will be brought to the fore. This phase of the season will be followed by a chance to reflect upon the centenary of the colonial war against the Herero people. That discussion will lead into a final session oriented towards current political problems in which racism, spatial segregation and the legal confinement of aliens, terrorists and other non-citizens can be analysed in relation to their significant colonial precedents.
The keynote presentation will be given by the Swedish writer Sven Lindqvist.

Link further events related to the topic:
Discussions, talks, actions, workshops and films in November 2004