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CANCELLED: PG Work in Progress Seminar

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Location: S2.77/MS Teams

This week Michi Nanayakkara will present her paper 'Colonial Regimes of Truth: Idealising and Assimilating to the Coloniser’s world'.


Physical violence, imperialism (epistemic domination), economical exploitation, slavery, and racial discrimination are among the many devasting events comprising Colonisation. Despite these horrific tragedies, colonisation can have the effect of creating a peculiar relationship between the coloniser and the colonised in postcolonial worlds; wherein the colonised subject begins to idealise their coloniser and desire assimilation into the coloniser’s world. This peculiarity can be elucidated in reference to Foucault’s Regimes of Truth which capture the phenomenon where subjects of power relations exhibit the ‘truth’ of those powers through their subjectivity.

To explain how we arrive at a situation like a Colonial Regime of Truth, I will be critically engaging with Berlin’s contentious evaluations of ‘Positive liberty’ which, according to Berlin, arises namely from Rousseau’s attempt to reconcile the absolute value of personal freedom with authorities (although Berlin also says that positive liberty is perhaps the oldest conception of freedom in Western Philosophy). By moreover using Charles Mills’ Racial Contract to construct a postcolonial critique of positive liberty, I will argue that it is internally consistent for a positive theorist to justify acts of imperialism in the name of freedom. Furthermore, by referring to past and present case studies of imperialism, I hope to convey the illiberalism underwriting positive liberty which is used to create and justify Colonial Regimes of Truth. In other words, I hope to explain how we get to Foucault without the Foucauldian terminology (ideal for those who dislike Foucault for whatever (wrong) reason 😊)

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See also:
Centre for Research in Philosophy, Literature & The Arts Events
Consciousness and Self-Consciousness Research Centre Events
Arts Faculty Events