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WICID Inaugural Lecture: Neither Settler Nor Native - Mahmood Mamdani

WICID Inaugural Lecture: Neither Settler Nor Native - Mahmood Mamdani

Date(s) - 03/31/2021
4:00 am - 5:30 am

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Mahmood Mamdani – Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities

About this Event

Making the radical argument that the nation-state was born of colonialism, this book calls us to rethink political violence and reimagine political community beyond majorities and minorities.

In this genealogy of political modernity, Mahmood Mamdani argues that the nation-state and the colonial state created each other. In case after case around the globe—from the New World to South Africa, Israel to Germany to Sudan—the colonial state and the nation-state have been mutually constructed through the politicization of a religious or ethnic majority at the expense of an equally manufactured minority.

The model emerged in North America, where genocide and internment on reservations created both a permanent native underclass and the physical and ideological spaces in which new immigrant identities crystallized as a settler nation. In Europe, this template would be used by the Nazis to address the Jewish Question, and after the fall of the Third Reich, by the Allies to redraw the boundaries of Eastern Europe’s nation-states, cleansing them of their minorities. After Nuremberg the template was used to preserve the idea of the Jews as a separate nation. By establishing Israel through the minoritization of Palestinian Arabs, Zionist settlers followed the North American example. The result has been another cycle of violence.

Neither Settler nor Native offers a vision for arresting this historical process. Mamdani rejects the “criminal” solution attempted at Nuremberg, which held individual perpetrators responsible without questioning Nazism as a political project and thus the violence of the nation-state itself. Instead, political violence demands political solutions: not criminal justice for perpetrators but a rethinking of the political community for all survivors—victims, perpetrators, bystanders, beneficiaries—based on common residence and the commitment to build a common future without the permanent political identities of settler and native. Mamdani points to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as an unfinished project, seeking a state without a nation.

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Speaker Biographies:

  • Dr Mahmood Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and Professor of Anthropology and of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University and Director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala. He is the author of Neither Settler nor Native, Citizen and Subject, and When Victims Become Killers.
  • Dr Teodora Todorova is an independent researcher and a teaching fellow based in The Department of Sociology at the University of Warwick. Her research is concerned with grassroots activism and transnational civil society responses to gendered and racialised power and state violence. She has worked on gendered violence and post-conflict reconciliation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and on solidarity and decolonial activism in Palestine-Israel. Dr Todorova is the chair of the subcommittee on Pedagogy and Outreach of the British Society of Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES). In her forthcoming book, Decolonial Solidarity in Palestine-Israel: Settler Colonialism and Resistance From Within, Dr Todorova extends the framework of settler colonial studies beyond scholarly analysis and into the realm of activist practice by evaluating how decolonial solidarity has shaped, and been influenced by, the writings of both Palestinian and Israeli theorists. The book shows that new forms of civil society activism, bringing together Palestinian and Israeli activists, can rejuvenate the resistance to occupation and the Israeli state’s growing authoritarianism.
  • Dr Randolph B. Persaud is Associate Professor of International Relations at the School of Int’l Service, American University, Washington D.C. He works on race and IR, critical political economy, human security, migration, and the Caribbean. His is author of Counter-Hegemony and Foreign Policy; co-editor of Race, Gender, and Culture in International Relations, 2018Violence and the Third World in International Relations, 2019. He has also published in Alternatives, Third World Quarterly, Cambridge Review of International Affairs, Globalizations, Race and Class, Latin American Politics and Society; Connecticut Journal of International Law, Millennium; Journal of Diplomacy and International Relations; Korea Review of International Studies, Foreign Policy, Journal of Narrative Politics, and Transatlantic Puzzle, among others. Dr. Persaud has also co-edited three special issues, the first with R.B.J. Walker – Race and International Relations – published 20 twenty ago this year.
  • Dr Briony Jones is Associate Professor of International Development at the Politics and International Studies Department of the University of Warwick, and Deputy Director of the Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre for International Development. Working at the intersection between research, policy and practice she is also an Associate Senior Researcher of swisspeace and regularly collaborates with international organisations in the fields of development, justice and human rights. Her research specialises in the politics of societies following large scale violations of human rights and in particular on citizenship, justice, reconciliation, and the politics of knowledge.

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