Laborie, Paarl, Western Cape, July 7-11, 2014
Convenors: CHR, UWC; SARChI Chair in Social Change, University of Fort Hare; Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change (ICGC), University of Minnesota
Since its inception in 2010, the Winter School has taken up the problem of the many problematisations of race in the humanities. To the extent that it seeks to think through the critique of race and the ways in which race names something internal to the discourse of the university and the humanities, the Winter School provided a space to track its dispersal in the assemblages of nation, institution, desire, power and forms of political subjectivity.
The title for the 2014 Winter School, ‘Race for the Humanities’, registers both the spatial and temporal distributions of the problematic of race in the humanities. Rather than simply defining race, or creating a balance sheet of its equivalences and variations, ours is a commitment to comprehend the strategies by which the problem of race has been anticipated and contested in the discourse of the humanities. We are interested in accounting for race as historical specificity, but more importantly, in how race functions in disciplinary configurations and institutional formations to name population and prescribe articulations of difference. Put more succinctly, the 2014 Winter School asked what it means to teach the debate about race in the humanities. We brought together the various strands of our inquiry into the format of a school in which we asked what it means to teach the problem of race 1] as it organises the study of the humanities, 2] as a genealogy that discloses the matrix of university discourse and social and political institutions, and 3] as a defining feature of political and aesthetic worlds from which the humanities promised an exit.
Nowhere is the compulsion for this line of inquiry more pressing than in the way race overlays every conception of the idea of population in the colonial and postcolonial worlds. With Foucault’s Society Must be Defended, there is a suggestive charting of the idea of race in the shift from a territorial state to a population state – of a shift from race war to an art of liberal government in which society must be defended. What we seek to place in the midst of this script is debate about the meanings of race that took hold in the instance of manufacturing colonial governmentality, and which produced a competing discourse of ideological racism and biopolitics across those parts of the world marked by the history of colonialism, apartheid and neo-colonialism. To this end we are interested to explore the ways in which competing histories of race, caste and ethnicity structure the grids of intelligibility we know as the humanities.