Sonntag, 7.7.2024, 18:00h

Benjamin Zachariah

Enlightenments Lost in the Post

My talk traces a set of (mis)readings of Enlightenment ideas, before and after they acquired the Enlightenment label. Whether as an abstraction or series of processes that have acquired a collective noun, it is usually a set of present-day concerns that are projected into the past or stabilized in the present as ‘the’ Enlightenment, the better to attack or defend it. I ask whether enlightenments have traveled badly or been lost in the post-reason and pro-affect world; and whether this is reason enough to abandon reason. I ask whether principles not fully realized in any really-existing manifestations are principles that must be abandoned, or whether they have any value as principles of judgement. In the course of following the post-reason perambulations of enlightenments variously perceived, I ask what has been lost or gained, whether ‘enlightenment’ might still have some characteristics attributed to it, and what they might mean.

Benjamin Zachariah is a member of the Einstein Forum research staff. Zachariah completed degrees in history and philosophy from Trinity College, Cambridge, and held previous senior research fellowships at the University of Trier, the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University, and the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, among other places. Zachariah’s research interests include the politics of historical knowledge, historical theory and historiography, global fascism, transnational revolutionary networks, nationalisms, and memory. Zachariah is the author of Nehru (2004), Developing India: An Intellectual and Social History, c. 1930–1950 (2005; 2nd ed. 2012), Playing the Nation Game: The Ambiguities of Nationalism in India (2011; 2nd ed. 2016; revised edition Nation Games 2020), and After the Last Post: The Lives of Indian Historiography in India (2019). Zachariah is co-editor of The Internationalist Moment: South Asia, Worlds, and World Views 1917–1939 (2015), and of What’s Left of Marxism: Historiography and the Possibility of Thinking with Marxian Themes and Concepts (2020).

Veranstaltung in englischer Sprache