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Death, Sovereignty, and Power in the (Post) Colony (SO9B1-20)

What does political sociology have to say about suicide bombers and freedom fighters? How are concerns regarding our life and death or the lives and deaths of others central to the way we organise life politically? How is death related to the issue of sovereignty? What is biopolitics? What is necropolitics? Can we understand worlds of slavery, torture, detention, massacres and genocide by understanding the way we organise life politically? What do Indigenous and postcolonial scholars have to say about death, violence, and freedom?

The relationship between sovereignty and death has long preoccupied social and cultural theory in thinking through the formation of state sovereignty and law in the European context. In colonial and postcolonial contexts, these concerns have been inflected to illuminate the generation of death world and the struggle for justice. These death worlds include slavery, torture and detention, massacres and genocide. Death worlds also generate multiple forms of resistance and emancipatory political movements including non-violent as well as militant quests for justice, freedom, self-determination and sovereignty.

Beginning with theories of biopolitics and necropolitics which describe these death worlds, the module will address how colonial categories of racial and religious difference inform these worlds in an allegedly 'post' colonial era. In this sense, the module will pay attention to the ways in which Orientalist divisions based on the West and the rest need to be complicated to accommodate the complexities of colonial discourse, where the rhetoric of anti-colonialism can often illustrate its complicity with colonial techniques of governance. Furthermore, the module will examine how division between the 'West' and the rest may sometimes become untenable in the context of transnational state and non-state alliances, activisms, and solidarities.

Focusing on specific case studies, this module will explore how the present nexus of biopolitics, geopolitics and necropolitics is an uneven juncture through which a master narrative of the 'war on terror' and a neoliberal rationale are invoked and governmentalised in different contexts. In this nexus, colonial categories of racial and religious difference continue to be relevant in a present, allegedly 'post' colonial era.

Furthermore, the module will examine how division between the 'West' and the rest may sometimes become untenable in the context of transnational state and non-state alliances, activisms, and solidarities.

 

Module Director:

Goldie Osuri

Timing and CATS

This module will run in the Spring Term of the 2016/17 academic year, and is worth 20 CATS.