Research Colloquium, Spring Semester 2022: “Working with the state”

In this semester, the colloquium will focus on the ways in which academic and non-academic interpretations of the concept of ‘the state’ vary in different contexts. Drawing from case studies of the research project “Reversing the Gaze” as well as guest talks, the sessions will shed light on research endeavors involving the travel and translation of concepts across different regions, disciplines and research foci.


program

Mon 14.03.2022, 12:30-14:00
Is the state an ideological power?
Tebuho Winnie Kanyimba & Matthias Maurer Rueda (Centre for African Studies Basel/Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel)


Mon 28.03.2022, 12:30-14:00
The Postcolonial African State in Transition
Lerato Posholi (Institute of European Global Studies, University of Basel)


Mon 11.04.2022, 12:30-14:00
Retribalization and the State in Switzerland
Tebuho Winnie Kanyimba & Matthias Maurer Rueda (Centre for African Studies Basel/Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel)


Mon 25.04.2022, 12:30-14:00
A Colonial History of Pensions: The East India Company and One Genesis for the Welfare State
Geeta Patel (Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures/Women, Gender & Sexuality, University of Virginia)


Mon 09.05.2022, 12:30-14:00
The State, Infrastructure, and Populism
Stephan Hochleithner (Department of Geography, University of Zurich)


Mon 23.05.2022, 12:30-14:00
Review session
Stephan Hochleithner (Department of Geography, University of Zurich)


The colloquium takes place online via Zoom. If you are interested in participating, please register via email to: rtg@unibas.ch.


PhD candidates and advanced MA students can earn credits (3 ECTS credit points). In order to do so, participants should write a report on one of the sessions.

PhD candidates and students at the University of Basel can register for the course via MOnA (course no. 64025-01).

PhD candidates and students at other Swiss universities can register via the University of Basel Student Administration Office.

Call for Papers “Post-Pandemic Mobilisation and Management of Social Welfare Funds”

Project members Sruthi Herbert and Deval Desai host a workshop on “Post-Pandemic Mobilisation and Management of Social Welfare Funds: Implications for Equity and Citizenship” at the annual conference of the Development Studies Association (6-8 July 2022). They discuss the fiscal and administrative practices that emerged in public welfare spending after the COVID-19 pandemic through the lens of equity and citizenship.

The workshop explores a matter of critical policy relevance and political importance: the fiscal and administrative practices that emerged post-pandemic to rapidly mobilise funds for the pandemic relief, and its implications for equity and citizenship. The case-study of special-purpose vehicles (SPVs) in India guides this discussion.

Sruthi Herbert and Deval Desai (Edinburgh) will be the co-convenors. They welcome abstracts for papers from scholars, writers and activists engaged in monitoring and analysing the management and use of public/earmarked funds in India or other regions of the world.

The deadline for submissions is 4 March 2022. The conference is taking place online on 6-8 July, organised and hosted by University College London.

Research Colloquium, Fall Semester 2021: “Making concepts work”

The focus of this semester is on the translation and operationalization of social scientific concepts in specific historical contexts and socio-cultural environments. The colloquium will engage with methodological and theoretical issues bearing on the translation of concepts across regions, across disciplines, and across academic and non-academic contexts.


program

Wed 29.09.2021, 12.15-14.00
Retribalization across time and space
Tebuho Winnie Kanyimba & Matthias Maurer Rueda (Centre for African Studies Basel/Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel)


Wed 13.10.2021, 12.15-14.00
Translating Black-Boxes
Elísio Macamo (Centre for African Studies Basel/Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel)


Wed 27.10.2021, 12.15-14.00
Unspent Funds: Mobilisation and Accountability Post-COVID
Sruthi Herbert (University of Edinburgh), Christine Lutringer (Graduate Institute Geneva)


Wed 10.11.2021, 12.15-14.00
Chatterjee Revisited: Contextualizing Political Societies
Stephan Hochleithner & Benedikt Korf (Department of Geography, University of Zurich)


New date: Wed 01.12.2021, 12.15-14.00
Translating Forms of Knowledge
Maria Paula Meneses (Centro de Estudos Sociais e Económicos, Universidade de Coimbra)


Wed 08.12.2021, 12.15-14.00
Review session
Ralph Weber (Institute of European Global Studies, University of Basel)


The colloquium takes place online via Zoom. If you are interested in participating, please register via email to: rtg@unibas.ch.


PhD candidates and advanced MA students can earn credits (3 ECTS credit points). In order to do so, participants should write a report on one of the sessions.

PhD candidates and students at the University of Basel can register for the course via MOnA (course no. 62347-01).

PhD candidates and students at other Swiss universities can register via the University of Basel Student Administration Office.

Workshop Report: Keywords for India, and Beyond?

In this report, Lerato Posholi (researcher in the Reversing the Gaze project) discusses the workshop ”Keywords for India, and beyond? Enriching the Global Social Science Vocabulary” with Rukmini Bhaya Nair (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi) and Peter deSouza (Goa University). The event was organized by Ralph Weber (Principle Investigator of the project) and Lerato Posholi as an inception workshop in the framework of the Reversing the Gaze project.


Keywords for India, and Beyond? Enriching the Global Social Science Vocabulary

On the 7th of May 2021, Prof. Ralph Weber and Dr Lerato Posholi organized a workshop with Prof. Rukmini Bhaya Nair (Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi) and Prof. Peter deSouza (Goa University). The workshop used Bhaya Nair and deSouza’s book «Keywords for India: A conceptual lexicon for the 21st century» as a point of departure for reflecting on the core question of whether, and how, certain keywords for and from India (e.g. guru or nirvana or policy paralysis) can apply or be used to study contexts beyond India. The discussion covered some of the central themes of the Sinergia project «Reversing the gaze: towards post-comparative area studies» on the politics of conceptual travel, theoretical challenges to using concepts beyond their context of origin, and broader concerns around the nature of comparison.

Two broad sets of critical insights were foregrounded in the contributions and discussions between invited speakers and participants. The first set of insights raised questions regarding the notion of ‹reversing the gaze›: what does it mean? Which gaze are we reversing? Why must we ‹reverse the gaze›? How do we ‹reverse the gaze›? Prof. Bhaya Nair highlighted that the notion of ‹reversing the gaze› commonly amounts to a call to study Europe just as Europe studies the rest of the world but proposed that ‹reversing the gaze› should go beyond this to inspire ways of seeing the world anew. She remarked that in their book, the placing of ‹big academic concepts› such as democracy and subaltern next to everyday Indian keywords such as balti (Hindi/Urdu for ‹bucket›) can provide new perspectives on the world. Prof. deSouza added a critical perspective on the notion of ‹reversing the gaze› by raising the question: «who is doing the gazing?» This question is loaded with topical issues about positionality and how it affects knowledge production.

The second set of insights surrounded the topic of concept travel. On this topic, the concern was whether all concepts can travel and what the conditions of possibility for concept travel are. Two key points were raised on this issue. The one point was that concepts can be deeply embedded in certain theoretical frameworks and socio-cultural contexts, making it difficult for them to be applicable outside their contexts of origin. The speakers emphasized that some of the keywords for India may be so embedded in Indian contexts that they are not applicable elsewhere, or may first need to be made fit for travelling, as had been the case with karma. The second point raised a word of caution against taking for granted that travelling concepts retain their original meaning in different contexts. Concepts, especially social concepts, tend to expand or change meaning precisely in their travelling. For example: the concept of human rights, some may say, has expanded and evolved precisely because the original conception of human rights has been challenged in applications of the concept in many different contexts.

Overall, the fruitful discussions from the workshops raised important questions that will help us do some ground clearing in the Sinergia project. These questions and insights call for careful clarification of what is meant by ‹reversing the gaze› in the project and an illustration of how this reversal of the gaze can produce post-comparative area studies.


This report was originally written for the monthly newsletter of the Institute for European Global Studies (University of Basel):

> Newsletter: Nr. 132 Juli 2021 | Europainstitut | Institute for European Global Studies


Peter deSouza
Ralph Weber
Lerato Posholi

Research Colloquium, Spring Semester 2021: “Comparison and Beyond”

The focus of this semester is on methodological and conceptual issues concerning comparison. In particular, the colloquium will discuss recent critical reflections on, and engage with new perspectives for, social scientific comparison.

After an introduction to the general topic in the first two sessions, four sessions will address current comparative research and reflect on the methodological and conceptual implications for different disciplines and research areas. The final session will pick up on questions raised previously and discuss new approaches in the social sciences in general and in Area Studies in particular.


program

Wed 10.03.2021, 12.15-14.00
Introduction to Comparison
Ralph Weber (Institute of European Global Studies, University of Basel)


Wed 24.03.2021, 12.15-14.00
Post-Comparison and Mid-Level Concepts
Ralph Weber (Institute of European Global Studies, University of Basel)


Wed 07.04.2021, 12.15-14.00
Reversing the Gaze: Anthropological Experiments – Steps towards Decolonization?
Peter Geschiere (Emeritus Professor of Social Anthropology, Amsterdam)


Wed 21.04.2021, 12.15-14.00
Anthropology and the positivist legacy of comparative agendas. Theoretical concepts and their epistemological power
Till Förster (Institute of Social Anthropology, Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel)


Wed 05.05.2021, 12.15-14.00
What do (research ) objects stand in for? Sociological implications of comparison
Elísio Macamo (Centre for African Studies Basel/Department of Social Sciences, University of Basel)


Wed 19.05.2021, 12.15-14.00
Generating concepts for global urban studies: Reformatting comparative urbanism
Jennifer Robinson (Department of Geography, University College London)


Wed 02.06.2021, 12.15-14.00
Reversing the gaze as a response to Eurocentrism: some preliminary thoughts
Lerato Posholi (Institute of European Global Studies, University of Basel)


The colloquium takes place online via Zoom. If you are interested in participating, please register via email to: rtg@unibas.ch.


PhD candidates and advanced MA students can earn credits (3 ECTS credit points). In order to do so, participants should either present a paper on their ongoing research; discuss a core text in a reading session; act as a discussant on one of the sessions; or write a report on one of the sessions.

PhD candidates and students at the University of Basel can register for the course via MOnA (course no. 60720-01).

PhD candidates and students at other Swiss universities can register via the University of Basel Student Administration Office.