BTCS-Border and Transcultural Research Circle
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2007-2008 Theme

Coordinator: Guillermina De Ferrari, Spanish and Portuguese


Knowledge and Empire

February 29- March 1, 2008

Pyle Center

Keynote Speakers:

Dipesh Chakrabarty
Lawrence A. Kimpton Distinguished Service Professor of History,
South Asian Languages and Civilizations and the College, University of Chicago
“Empire, Ethics, and the Calling of History”

Theresa M. Kelley
Marjorie and Lorin Tiefenthaler Professor of English
University of Wisconsin
“Reading Matter and Paint: Indian Botany and the British”

All Speaker Bios

This two-day conference seeks to put together a series of presentations and discussions focusing on the symbolic aspects of colonizing processes in various imperial configurations in the modern period. By symbolic colonization we refer to a relatively invisible mechanism by which scientific, legal and philosophical conceptualizations have not only justified various colonial enterprises, but more importantly, have facilitated the creation of self-colonizing cultures by promoting notions of what is legal, what is scientifically viable, what is morally acceptable, and what is socially desirable. We believe that, while the distinctive colonial processes in various regions of the world need to be studied in their singular complexity, the gesture of symbolic appropriation through knowledge itself lies at the very heart of the colonial process, and its comparative study can yield more than the sum of its parts. By promoting a dialogue across periods and regions, this conference seeks to deepen our understanding of one of the less visible, yet more pervasive aspects of the colonial experience, the self-perpetuating colonizing mechanisms that are produced by what is perceived to be neutral, unhistorical forms of knowledge.