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Deprovincialising Marxism: Pan-Africanism and the Comintern
November 25, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm GMT
Ambitions to correct the marginal status of anti-colonial and non-Western writings within academic reading lists have hastened with calls to decolonize curricula taking hold across disciplines. The struggle around knowledge production in Western academia has become an important site for rehabilitating the supposedly anachronistic politics of anti-colonialism. Yet the status and legacy of Marx and Marxism within such a standoff has become hard to determine. On the one hand Marxism is accused of bearing the indelible markers of a distinctly Eurocentric perspective over world history at the same time as it is widely accepted that Marxist theory and practice was inextricably entangled with anti-colonial and independence movements throughout the 20th century.
In this light, Harry Harootunian has been singular in advocating for the deprovincialisation of Marxist theory and history. In his Deprovincializing Marx, Harootunian contends that the centered status ascribed to the trajectory of “Western Marxism” within Marxist discourse and its ongoing influence over historical narrativizations of anti-capitalist opposition has belied the location from which such reflections arose. As such the terminus point for all Marxist political and theoretical projects seem to end with that of the West. Yet situating “Western Marxism” within the uneven development of global capitalist relations as a theoretical reflection of a particularly advanced modality of capitalist subsumption, forces us to interrogate the historical and material basis of its generalising prognostications and foreclosed political pathways. With this in mind, Marxist theory and practice emerging from non-Western contexts provide a variety of conceptual frameworks and horizons that register the multi-polarity of capitalist development.
This reading group seeks to rehabilitate the internationalism of Marxist theory and history with monthly focused readings of non-Western Marxisms spanning various disciplinary contexts. Each session will be thematically organised with a series of lengthy extracts taken from some of the major texts of non-Western Marxism and a number of secondary sources providing context. The introductory session will look at a number of conceptual frameworks for thinking Marxism’s place within the post/neo/decolonial situation.
The reading group is open to all but a basic knowledge of any context of Marxist theory or history will be useful. The spirit of the group will be to introduce new theoretical, cultural and political traditions to Marxist readers with the genuine ambition of upending our common sense about what constitutes Marxist theory, history and practice.
The second session will be looking at a number of texts emerging out of Pan-Africanist engagements with the Third International.
Readings will be uploaded here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1cXB4apZMcphenZc9a5v4tmdG1qlD3GVZ1ytGxFe5N34/edit?usp=sharing