Meera Sabaratnam (LSE)

I’m with you on a) frustration with the use of post-structuralist approaches and b) interest in making the linkages between the lines of thinking work and making them count. Now, I have to say that my Deleuze scholarship is nothing to write home about but in general, reflecting on the ways it has gone in the discipline:

That western power has become comfortable with a number of the approaches and incorporated them is not so surprising – power has picked up the neutralising and relativising tendencies in the literature and so depoliticises their impact. But neither is it a cause to chuck them out – I think it would be a) like you suggest, a denial of the importance of their intellectual impact (good or otherwise) on the decolonising project and b) like you suggest, depriving us of a useful avenue of conversation and critique.

But the bigger point, I think, is to recognise the distinctions between the modes/assumptions and the directions/outputs of critique – theory as a weapon etc. Now of course, not all tools are useful for all tasks, but the decolonising project itself should be multi-faceted, as all forms of resistance are; employing both immanent critique and more radical creativity as engines of change, working on many different audiences at the same time. Who are we talking to? And what ultimately is the project? Maintaining the leftfield could mean maintaining its intellectual diversity as well as maintaining a unity of purpose, though the two purposes probably will contradict themselves at times. The eternal dilemma!

Here’s an idea – why not set up a panel or roundtable at the Millennium conference as a starting point for a discussion on these terms; it would fit perfectly the theme and some of the likely relevant people should be in attendance… See where it goes from there?

All the best,

M

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