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Hamzić, Vanja (2019) Arendt in New Orleans: On Violence, Power and Insurrectionary Pasts. In: Panel on Hannah Arendt: On Violence, Power and Revolution, Law and Society Association Annual Conference, May 2019, Washington, DC, USA. (Unpublished)

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How does one conceive of a history, if not always already from a particular Sitz im Leben, one’s life’s present context, one’s presumed epistemic ‘reality’—so fashioned by one’s life- experience of being- and learning-in-the-world? Can there ever be a history that is not, by the same token, the history of today, a view of the past contingent on the viewer’s many limitations and idiosyncrasies in the present? I wonder about this, having returned, after some time, to Hannah Arendt’s foundational text, On Violence, her most immediate reaction to the ‘spirit of 1968’ and the dilemma posed by soixante-huitards and the likes of Franz Fanon and Jean-Paul Sartre, who saw social arrests as an inevitable aftermath of European colonialism and imperialism and therefore wrote, in the larger decolonial spirit of the time, of the need to embrace—if, also, to carefully theorise—revolutionary anti-colonial violence. Arendt’s essay has largely been read as a passionate defence of nonviolence, a thoughtful step back from the whirlwind of the era, a reflection and, for the most part, disavowal of—as she writes—“the events and debates of the last few years as seen against the background of the twentieth century, which has become, indeed, as Lenin predicted, a century of wars and revolutions, hence a century of that violence which is currently believed to be their common denominator” (OV: 3). Can one, however, still read it so? And what does it mean to read it from somewhere else—temporally, spatially, politically—from a different Sitz im Leben, but perhaps still primarily as a reflection on the decolonial and its relationship with violence?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Items (Paper)
SOAS Departments & Centres: School Research Centres > Centre for the Study of Colonialism, Empire and International Law
Departments and Subunits > School of Law
Departments and Subunits > Interdisciplinary Studies > Centre for Gender Studies
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2020 12:54

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