2017, Thu, Mar 23

The Nation-State System

With Cemil Aydin, Kudzanai Chiurai with Zaki Ibrahim, and Lawrence Liang

Lawrence Liang
"Another Asia." The Future Possibilities of a Failed Idea
In March 1947 a conference was organized in New Delhi by Jawaharlal Nehru, the head of the provisional government in India. The Asian Relations Conference sought to deliberate on the idea of Asia, both conceptually in the context of the de-colonizing moment and as a way to address specific questions such as that of citizenship and migrants (the colonial modus operandi had been a free movement of people across Asia). In retrospect, this event appears to have been the culmination of the potential of Pan Asianism, despite the fact that it also inaugurated its actual decline. In his presentation, legal scholar and writer Lawrence Liang examines why this story of failure may still serve as a reference point when rethinking nationalism in Asia.

Kudzanai Chiurai
The State of the Nation
In the performance by artist Kudzanai Chiurai, performed by Zaki Ibrahim, the first female Prime Minister of an African state addresses her nation on its day of independence from colonial rule. The speech explores the African condition by juxtaposing the synchronized past and the present of a continent afflicted by years of violence. Opposing an unbearable past, the address marks a moment of hope, where emancipatory futures can be realized in the post-independence era. Following the performance, a conversation between Kudzanai Chiurai and Rana Dasgupta will take place via conference call.

Cemil Aydin
Lost Futures of Cosmopolitan Empires. Rescuing 20th Century History from Nationalist Narratives
In the aftermath of World War One, the Wilsonian ideal of nation-states with homogenous populations emerged as the cure for the pains caused by multi-ethnic and multi-religious empires. But this magic pill proved highly poisonous, as it shattered millions of lives by justifying ethnic cleansing and even genocide. Yet, the current international order aims at proving its naturalness by means of a historical narrative that implies the inevitability of nationalism. In the face of this predicament historian Cemil Aydin revisits the cosmopolitan empires of the past to recover the lost futures of inclusive and pluralistic political visions.