Center for Global Studies and the Humanities

Duke University

Current Courses

Spring 2013:

THE “HISPANIC” CHALLENGE: “LATINIDAD” AND “AMERICANIDAD” AT LARGE THROUGH LITERATURE AND FILM, SPRING 2013

The seminar is designed for advanced undergraduate students with major/minors in Spanish, and Latino/as Studies certificate. It has also been designed for students in the sciences and professional schools seeking for seminars in the Humanities. It explores the power of art (aesthetics) to reflect and communicate crucial issues of our time. Through novels, essays and films, the seminar will explore how Hispanic/Latino/as writers, thinkers and filmmakers from Spain, Latin America and Latino/as in the US are engaging with national and global issues impinging in the politics of migration and identity formation. They do it not through scientific analysis but through esthetic explorations. We will also reflect on the power of art to analyse and confront major issues of our time from the perspectives of Latin/Hispanic writers, essayists and filmmakers. We read and discuss Dominican-American acclaimed writer Junot Diaz, Cuban-American Christina Garcia, Chicana/o writers Gloria Anzaldúa, Cherry Moraga and Rudolfo Anaya. We will watch and discuss movies such as Beautiful, Mexican film Luz Sinlenciosa (Silent Light) by Carlos Reygadas; plus short documentary films on social and environmental issues, and an inquiry in Latino/a art, installations and painting. The seminar will be taught in English. Spanish majors and minors could choose to read available literature in Spanish as well as to write in Spanish.

DECOLONIAL AESTHETICS

There are three types of critique to modernity: the Euro-centered critique (Frankfurt School, Postmodernism, Post-structuralism): the critiques that emerged from the European colonies and ex-colonies (Post-colonialism, De-coloniality) and the critique from regions not directly colonized, like East Asia and Islamic countries (De-Westernization). The third originated within modern and developed regions, like US and Western Europe (Ethnic Studies in the US, the emerging critique under the name of Black Europe and the geo-politics of knowing and sensing (that combines critical essays with art and exhibits) in “former” Eastern Europe.

Based on this framework the seminar goals are to open up a series of questions on the Western and modern concept of “aesthetics.” We will begin re-reading Aristotle’s Poetics and Kant’s Observations on the Beautiful and the Sublime through Fanon’s reflections on “National Culture.” The concepts of poiesis, mimesis and aiesthesis will be explored from the principles of decolonial thinking. We will then focus, in the second part of the seminar, on four current trajectories or options in art and aesthetics: Art and the Global Market (Blogs; Hong Kong Art Fair); Postmodern (Ranciere’s Dissensus); Altermodern Aesthetic (Bourriaud’s The Radicant) and aesthetic dewesternization (Yuko Hasegawa, Curator of the Sharjah Biennial, Dubai, March 2013). As in the first part, this will be a decolonial analysis of the four trajectories just mentioned. Finally, the third part of the seminar will be devoted to the meteoric raise of decolonial aesthetics (decolonial aesthetic option) from the exhibits-cum-workshop in Bogota (November 2010), to Duke University (May 2011) to Berlin (Be.Bop 2012), to Havana Biennial (May 2012) to Kassel Documenta 13 (July 2012). We will also pay attention to decolonial installation and story telling by Fred Wilson (US), Pedro Lasch (Mexican-American), Tanja Ostojic (Serbia-Germany) and Patrice Naiambana (Sierra Leone-England).

 

Previous Courses

(DE) COLONIALITY AND THE GEOPOLITICS OF KNOWING, SENSING AND BELIEVING

There are three types of critique to modernity: the Euro-centered critique (Frankfurt School, Postmodernism, Post-structuralism): the critiques that emerged from the European colonies and ex-colonies (Post-colonialism, De-coloniality) and the critique from regions not directly colonized, like East Asia and Islamic countries (De-Westernization). The third originated within modern and developed regions, like US and Western Europe (Ethnic Studies in the US, the emerging critique under the name of Black Europe and the geo-politics of knowing and sensing (that combines critical essays with art and exhibits) in “former” Eastern Europe. The seminar explores geo-politics and knowing, sensing and believing (epistemology, aesthesis and spirituality) and by so doing call into question the epistemic and methodological foundations and the universal ideology assumed in disciplinary knowledge: the idea one has of  “nature, ”  for instance, impinges on what one thinks about  “spirituality” and the “environment.”  Through a selected range of topics (history, anthropology, international law, science, religion, aesthetics, nature and the environment, gender and ethnic studies, economy) and authors, the seminar will put into dialogue approaches to the above range of issues from different particular bio- and geo-graphic local histories. The seminar will look into the past in order to understand the present and forecast the future.

(DE) COLONIALITY AND THE GEOPOLITICS

There are three types of critique to modernity: the Euro-centered critique (Frankfurt School, Postmodernism, Post-structuralism): the critiques that emerged from the European colonies and ex-colonies (Post-colonialism, De-coloniality) and the critique from regions not directly colonized, like East Asia and Islamic countries (De-Westernization). The third originated within modern and developed regions, like US and Western Europe (Ethnic Studies in the US, the emerging critique under the name of Black Europe and the geo-politics of knowing and sensing (that combines critical essays with art and exhibits) in “former” Eastern Europe. The seminar explores geo-politics and knowing, sensing and believing (epistemology, aesthesis and spirituality) and by so doing call into question the epistemic and methodological foundations and the universal ideology assumed in disciplinary knowledge. Through a selected range of topics (history, anthropology, international law, science, religion, aesthetics, gender and ethnic studies, economy) and authors, the seminar will put into dialogue approaches to the above range of issues from different particular bio- and geo-graphic local histories.

DE-COLONIAL THINKING/THINKING DECOLONIALLY (Political Economy, Religion and Political/International Relations Series)

What is, or what shall be understood by de-colonial thinking? Well, that is what the seminar is all about. We will explore the above questions by looking at three distinctive–although inter-connected–spheres of imperial/colonial thinking: the formations of political economic discourse, the split between theology and religion, and the complicities between political theory of state formation and international law/relations. The seminar will be divided into three sections, one of each devoted to the keywords in the subtitle. It is a trans-disciplinary seminar. Who should register? All of you, disregarding your disciplinary training, interested in exploring the imperial/colonial dimensions of knowing-making (e.g., the coloniality of knowing and being) and the potentials and possibilities of de-colonial thinking/doing.

The Seminar was planned in relation with the workshop on De-Colonial Cosmopolitanism (Political Economy, Religion and Political Theory/International Law), February 26-28, 2009, Duke University

THE RIGHT, THE LEFT AND THE DE-COLONIAL

A graduate seminar co-taught by Roberto Dainotto and Walter Mignolo, designed upon the experience of various workshops on Shifting the Geo-graphy and Bio-Graphy of Knowledge. The seminar will examine political theories developing in the marginal sites and receiving ends of “Modernity”. Among authors to be studied are Antonio Labriola, Antonio Gramsci, Ranajit Guha, José Carlos Mariategui, Frantz Fanon, Ali Shariati, C.R.L. James, Nawal El Sadawi and Sylvia Wynter.

RELIGION & ECONOMY IN HISTORY

The seminar focuses, chronologically, around the middle of eighteenth century when the dominance of theological discourse began to be displaced by the emergence of political economy (the French Physiocrats, Adam Smith). Spatially, on the changing landscape in the colonies, from Spanish and Portuguese theological lead empires to the French and British economical lead nascent imperialisms (Dalby Thomas). This moment in history witnessed the emergence, in the West, of World Religion (parallel to Goethe’s World Literature). At this point, Smith theory of sentiments connects economy with aesthetics.

Moving back to the sixteenth century and forward to the twentieth and twentieth first century, the seminar will explore the conflicts and complicities between these two discursive formations from the perspective of the colonies. My own take will be grounded on the legacies, in South America, of dependency theory and theology of liberation. Since I am neither an economist nor a theologian, my own take and perspective is grounded on the de-colonial project that emerged from the analytic of modernity/coloniality, in which I have been engaged and exploring in the past decade.

THE HISPANIC CHALLENGE

In 2005 noted Harvard political scientist, Sammuel Huntington, published an influential article, “The Hispanic Challenge” that then became part of his book, Who Are We? What constitute the Hispanic Challenges? Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez? Migrant workers? The uprising of April and May of 2006? The transformation of knowledge and understanding that Hispanics, Afro-Caribbean, Native Americans, Women of Color are introducing?

This seminar, already in its seventh year, is an attempt to introduce students to the understanding of the historical foundation of racism (and its relationship with knoweldge, politics and ethics) through the emergence of Hispanics and Latinas in the US in the 1970’s . Indeed, where are Hispanics or Latinas coming from? How do they fit in the ethno-racial pentagon (White, Native Americans, Afro-Americans and Asian Americans?). And what are the connections between the ethno-racial pentagon in the US and globalization? Where, indeed, is Latinidad coming from? The seminar explores, also, the interconnections between identity, knowledge and politics, distinguishing identity politics from identity IN politics and the politics of identity both in politics and in scientific knowledge.

Students will be introduced also to issues in the Humanities through trans-disciplinary thinking grounded in the department of Romance Studies and cross-listed with African and Afro-American Studies, Cultural Anthropology, Literature and History.

The seminar will be conducted in English. Reading will be in English and/or Spanish depending on student’s needs and desires.

THE IDEA OF LATIN AMERICA

The idea of Latin America, as invented and created by European imperial powers and maintained by United States emerging imperialism at the turn of the twentieth century, in complicity with local Creole and Mestizo elites. Perspective on the geo- and body- politics of knowledge being enacted by radical intellectuals, indigenous and Afro-social movements, and the Social Forum of the Americas, to open up a new understanding of the global order and global power relations today. This undergraduate course is taught by Walter Mignolo.

CRITICAL COSMOPOLITANISM

Co-directed by Walter Mignolo and Romand Coles, this seminar provides a forum for faculty members and students to explore the possibilities for imagining cosmopolitan futures that extend beyond the bounds of modern “Cosmopolitanisms,” which are deeply entwined with national, imperial, and Eurocentric norms and practices. Imagining alternative cosmopolitan futures which are more dia(pluri)logical and radically democratic, begins by interrogating the regional limits of Western political theory and political economy, and seriously engaging alternative visions taking form in various locations around the world. Participants must therefore stand at the confluence of ethics and epistemology, questioning the nature, sources and meanings of power.

WHY HISPANICS ARE NOT WHITE: RACE AND GLOBALIZATION

If you think of “race” as a question of skin color, you may have difficulty understanding the connection between skin color and globalization, which is usually thought of as financial and technological. Furthermore, “Hispanics” don’t seem to be classified by skin color. Who are “Hispanics,” when they (we) come from many countries and have many different skin colors? What is our language? What is our religion? And above all, who decided that there is a group of people identified as “Hispanics”? Is there any “essential” and visible trait or feature that identifies people by their “ethnicity”? Is religion related to race and ethnicity? What are the differences between race and ethnicity? And what about coloniality? And modernity? Are “Hispanics” an ethnic group? And what are the relationships between “ethnic groups,” citizenship, nationality, and rights (human rights)? These are just some of the questions this undergraduate seminar seeks to answer.

GLOBAL COLONIALITY FROM THE SPANISH EMPIRE TO THE U.S.

Focusing on the foundation of the modern/colonial world, this upper-level graduate course traces out the similarities and differences among modern empires. Topics covered include race, gender, ethnicity, and how each of these “identities” relates to the coloniality of power. Readings by thinkers such as Franz Hinkelammert, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui and Dominic Lieven illustrate these concepts.

EMPIRES CLASH: RELIGION, POWER AND CIVILIZATION

This undergraduate course, co-taught by Ebrahim Moosa and Walter Mignolo, seeks to find an alternative to the now popular ideology of an inevitable “clash of civilizations.” We will focus on imperial power and examine its relations with religious traditions and civilizing projects. The course will rely on historical approaches, cultural analyses, and philosophical investigations into the constitution of imperial power and its unfolding dynamics of global conflict. Among the variety of imperial formations and religious traditions that will be examined, we will focus on the Middle East and the Americas.