CfP Book "Decolonizing Enlightenment: Transnational Justice, Human Rights and Democracy in a Postcolonial World"

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Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies

Call for Contributions to Book: "Decolonizing Enlightenment: Transnational Justice, Human Rights and Democracy in a Postcolonial World"

The formal attainment of independence by colonies and protectorates in Latin America, Asia and Africa has not ushered in the end of imperialism. The epistemic and material conditions that underpinned European colonialism persist to shape our world, so that the postcolony continues to be confronted with the violent legacies of imperialism. From development politics to peace and security issues, from human rights to foreign trade policies, from climate change to intellectual property rights, from gender justice to global governance; colonial relations still inform how problems are perceived and what solutions are offered.

If "modernity" is deeply linked to European imperialism and if European norms, values and practices were universalised through colonialism, then decolonization is inextricably linked to the project of "deuniversalising Europe". However, this cannot be achieved through a simple rejection of European Enlightenment in favour of nationalist or nativist projects; rather "provincializing Europe" (Chakrabarty) entails the recognition that the postcolonial world is historically determined by the Enlightenment, even as the construction of the West as a normative power has left a trail of violent and exploitative systems in the name of modernity, progress, rationality, emancipation, freedom, equality, rights, justice and peace. At the same time, the native elites in the postcolonial world, to a large extent, profit from and reinforce the very neo-colonial structures they seek to critique (Spivak). This confronts us with the paradoxical legacies of the Enlightenment project and the challenge of freeing ourselves from the "intellectual blackmail of being for or against the Enlightenment" (Foucault).

In the last few decades there have been intensive debates regarding the pertinence of Enlightenment ideals of justice, human rights and democracy, which have been criticized for being Eurocentric and androcentric since they are firmly grounded in a Western (hetero-)normative framework. This volume presents critical perspectives of feminists, critical race theorists, queer and postcolonial theorists who confront the question whether norms of justice, human rights and democracy are enabling for disenfranchised communities or do they simply reinforce relations of domination between those who are constituted as dispensers of justice, rights and aid and those who are coded as receivers? This raises the following questions: How do Western conceptions of justice, human rights and democracy become normative, thus meriting emulation from the rest? How do they exert violence on those subjects that violate Eurocentric norms? If there are no objective standards of justice, human rights and democracy that apply universally regardless of culture, race, gender, religion, nationality or other factors, what implications does this have on debates regarding the scope and scale of struggles for justice, rights, freedom, equality? How does this inflect transnational alliance politics and solidarity across borders? This indicates the orchestrating and regulative effects of norms as well as their aspirational and coercive dimensions.

If the origin (Genese) of an idea does not determine its validity (Geltung), then a postcolonial-queer-feminist critique of justice, human rights and democracy cannot merely entail a rejection of these norms because they emerge in the West or are authored predominantly by privileged white men, nor can the aim be to recover "pure", "uncontaminated" authentic non-Western notions of justice or rights. Rather the challenge is how to re-imagine these norms such that those subjected to them may have a possibility of intervening and transforming the terms of the debate. The contributions in this volume focus on the silencing and exclusion of vulnerable groups from claims of justice and rights, while highlighting postcolonial-queer-feminist struggles for transnational justice, human rights and radical democracy.

Contributions on the following issues are welcome:

    1. Cosmopolitan Democracy, Global Governance and Neo-Colonialism
    2. Transnational Justice: Postcolonial-Queer-Feminist Perspectives on Recognition, Redistribution and Representation
    3. Human rights, Cultural Difference and Geopolitics
    4. Development Politics, International Aid and Empire
    5. Multiculturalism, Citizenship and Globalization
    6. Transnational Counterpublic Spheres, International Civil Society and Decolonization
    7. Religion, Secularism and Modernity

The volume is to be published by Barbara Budrich Publishers in the book series of the Working Group "Politics and Gender" of the German Association of Political Science (DVPW).

Contributions submitted must be original and unpublished accounts.

    Anticipated schedule:
    Submission of paper proposal: 1st March 2012
    Internal review process: 1st April 2012
    Completed final paper submission: 1st October 2012
    Revisions completed: 1st February 2013
    Manuscript to printer: 1st March 2013

Please forward your queries and submissions to the editor:

Prof. Dr. Nikita Dhawan
Junior Professor of Political Science (Gender/Postcolonial Studies)
Faculty of Social Sciences
Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies (FRCPS)
Cluster of Excellence "The Formation of Normative Orders"
Goethe-University Frankfurt
Senckenberganlage 31 (Hauspostfach 7)
60054 Frankfurt am Main