Calendar of Events

Spring 2014

Friday, February 7, 2014
Ian Baucom (English, Duke University)
Satellite image of Typhoon Haiyan
Postcolonial Method and Anthropocene Time
3:30 pm Curtin 175

At the conclusion of his Thursday talk with the English Department's Program in Literature and Cultural Theory—History 4°C: Search for a Method—Ian Baucom suggested that despite its enormously rich considerations of the multi-scaled temporality of the Anthropocene, Dipesh Chakrabarty’s recent work also sometimes bends the time of climate linear in the progress toward catastrophe, thereby bypassing the full possibility of a multi-temporal ontology of the present that would include the persistence into the Anthropocene of what Chakrabarty refers to as History 1 (Enlightenment historicism) and History 2 (subaltern/postcolonial theories of history).

So although it's important to draw upon Chakrabarty’s recent work--what Baucom refers to as History 3 (new “historiography demanded by the Anthropocene”)--we need to continue in a search for a method adequate to the situation of our time: a time that knots together (minimally) Histories 1, 2, and 3; a time that Baucom provisionally calls History 4°C.

“Postcolonial Method and Anthropocene Time," then, provides a fuller account of what Baucom understands the situation of History 4° to entail, and asks what the critical method might be that could not only account for this temporally—and ontologically—mixed “time” but, in rendering that account, could provide some cues of how to make something of it, and, so, continue to advance critique’s contributions to a project of emancipation within history. In pursuing those issues, Baucom is guided by four key questions:

What are the orders of time of the “situation” of History 4°?

How do those temporal orders relate to one another, and where might we look for models of their relationship?

What projects of future-fashioning do they variously imply?

And how, as they orient us to the future, do they re-open or renovate the question of humanity’s freedom to fashion the future in the circumstances of profound unfreedom climate change extends and exacerbates?

Also of interest:

Ian Baucom:
History 4°C: Search for a Method
Thursday, February 6
2:00 pm Curtin 368

Brown bag lunch with Ian Baucom
Friday, February 7
12 noon Curtin 939
Background reading: Ian Baucom, "Cicero's Ghost: The Atlantic, the Enemy, and the Laws of War," in States of Emergency: The Object of American Studies, eds., Russ Castronovo and Susan Gillman (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 124-142.


Ian Baucom works on twentieth-century British Literature and Culture, postcolonial and cultural studies, and African and Black Atlantic literatures. He is the author of Out of Place: Englishness, Empire and the Locations of Identity (1999, Princeton), Specters of the Atlantic: Finance Capital, Slavery, and the Philosophy of History (2005, Duke), and co-editor of Shades of Black: Assembling Black Arts in 1980s Britain (2005, Duke). He has edited special issues of the South Atlantic Quarterly on Atlantic Studies and Romanticism, and is currently working on a new book project tentatively entitled "The Disasters of War: On Inimical Life."

Satellite image: Typhoon Haiyan via Eumetstat



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