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  • Critical Perspectives on Democratic Anti-Colonialism

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    The Critical Perspectives on Democratic Anti-Colonialism project brings together faculty and students across The New School interested in exploring the theoretical foundations and political manifestations of radical democratic and anticolonial traditions. It seeks to renew the critical tradition of The New School by incorporating scholarly debates, issues, and approaches that have not been adequately represented.

    Critical Perspectives on Democratic Anti-Colonialism focuses on struggles of peripheral peoples in countries of the core and the periphery, with the aim of making sense of the changing meanings and practices of plebeian forms of dissent, resistance, and self-rule that have surfaced in the modern and contemporary world. Those involved with the project critically examine dominant socio-institutional structures, power relations, and regimes of knowledge and the way plebeian groups reformulate, subvert, and generate emancipatory and heterodox alternatives.

    Three thematic areas guide the project: the history of concepts, contemporary debates, and critical methodologies. Events and classes will build on these areas, and discussions will combine theoretical and empirical readings to highlight the continuities and discontinuities that are part of radical democratic and anti-colonial traditions. Discussions will also examine recent "post-positivist" approaches and alternative epistemologies to the human sciences that grant primacy and centrality to intersubjectivity, interpretation, and performativity. 

    Writings from influential thinkers from core and peripheral countries — such as Karl Marx, Vera Zasulich, W.E.B. DuBois, Antonio Gramsci, José Carlos Mariátegui, Hannah Arendt, Frantz Fanon, Li Ta-chao, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui, Oyèrónkẹ́ Oyèwùmí, Maria Lugones, and the Latin American Dependency and Indian Subaltern Schools — feature prominently in the project. Their writings spotlight some of the most significant past and current debates in the field, including uneven and combined development, the boomerang effect of colonialism, indigenous anti-imperialism, Third Worldism, world systems and unequal exchange, critical race theory, decolonial feminism, and heterodox democratic and council formations. 


    The project hosts monthly workshops for affiliated faculty and graduate students at which they can present and comment on works-in-progress. Together with several NSSR departments, the project also co-hosts a lecture series featuring guest speakers and an annual distinguished lecture followed by a one- or two-day intensive seminar.  

    Fall 2021 events are listed below. Click on the event name to watch the event recording.

    "Bolivian Immigrants and the Right to Have Rights in Buenos Aires in the Wake of Austerity: An Alter-Native Translation of Balibarianism"
    Carlos Forment, Associate Professor of Sociology, NSSR
    Comments by Udeepta Chakravarty, PhD Sociology student, NSSR
    September 23, 2021

    "Contesting OPEC: The Lost History of Democratic Anticolonial Oil Conservation
    Michael Dobson, PhD Politics candidate, NSSR
    October 21, 2021

    "The Global South and the History of Political Thought"
    Lorenzo Ravano, postdoctoral fellow, Université Paris Nanterre
    November 18, 2021 

    2020-2021 events included:

    Against Terricide with Arturo Escobar
    Why Austerity Persists
     with Jon Shefner
    The White Supremacy of Cultural Sociology: Toward a Critical Race Assessment
    with Crystal Fleming (watch video)
    Egypt's Occupation: Colonial Economism and the Crises of Capitalism
    , a book launch and roundtable with Aaron Jakes, Benoit Challand, Nancy Fraser, Julia Ott, Emma Park, and Ann Stoler (watch video)
    Living Phenomenology as a Decolonial Practice
     with Lewis Gordon

    For information about events, please email [email protected]


    Graduate courses connected to the project build on the three core themes and help students develop the theoretical, empirical, and methodological skills needed for rethinking established structures of political power and control, including state sovereignty, empire, nationalism, racialized and patriarchal capitalism, the North-South divide and the global color line, and the transnational commons and its political ecologies. New School graduate students can engage with issues and concerns shaping the project in these spring 2022 courses:

    GANT 6296: Grammars of Time
    GECO 5105: Historical Foundations of Political Economy II
    GECO 6190: Graduate Microeconomics
    GPHI/GLIB 5406: Gender and Its Discontents
    GPOL 6215: Political Theory of Decolonization
    GPOL 7002: Field Seminar Global Politics
    GSOC 5061: Contemporary Sociological Theory
    GSOC 6239: Colonialism, Modernity, and Their Afterlives: Perspectives from the Central Core and Peripheral Fringe
    NEPS 5001: Climate Change: Systemic Crisis and Systemic Change
    NINT 5000: Theories, Histories, and Practices of Development: Decolonizing International Affairs 


    NSSR and Lang Students Explore Suppressed Histories in New York City, NSSR Research Matters blog


    Project Co-directors
    Carlos Forment, Associate Professor of Sociology
    Andreas Kalyvas, Associate Professor of Politics

    Affiliated Faculty
    Jonathan Bach
    , Professor of Global Studies
    Chiara Bottici
    , Associate Professor of Philosophy
    Benoit Challand
    , Associate Professor of Sociology
    Ying Chen
    , Assistant Professor of Economics
    Sandipto Dasgupta
    , Assistant Professor of Politics
    Leonardo Figueroa Helland
    , Associate Professor of Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management
    Sakiko Fukuda-Parr
    , Professor of International Affairs
    Sean Jacobs
    , Associate Professor of International Affairs
    Aaron Jakes
    , Assistant Professor of History
    Clara Mattei
    , Assistant Professor of Economics
    Anne McNevin
    , Associate Professor of Politics
    Romy Opperman, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Philosophy
    Emma Park
    , Assistant Professor of History
    Ann Stoler
    , Willy Brandt Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and History
    Terry Williams
    , Professor of Sociology

    For more information, please contact Carlos Forment, Associate Professor of Sociology, at [email protected].

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