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Keynote Lecture: Professor Mahmood Mamdani

Keynote Lecture: Professor Mahmood Mamdani

Mon, 19 Jul 2021 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM Australian Eastern Standard Time (UTC+10)

Register here.

Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities

About this event

In this lecture based on his recently published book Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities (HUP, 2020), Professor Mahmood Mamdani argues that the nation-state and the colonial state created each other. In case after case around the globe—from the New World to South Africa, Israel to Germany to Sudan—the colonial state and the nation-state have been mutually constructed through the politicization of a religious or ethnic majority at the expense of an equally manufactured minority.

The model emerged in North America, where genocide and internment on reservations created both a permanent native underclass and the physical and ideological spaces in which new immigrant identities crystallized as a settler nation. In Europe, this template would be used by the Nazis to address the Jewish Question, and after the fall of the Third Reich, by the Allies to redraw the boundaries of Eastern Europe’s nation-states, cleansing them of their minorities. After Nuremberg the template was used to preserve the idea of the Jews as a separate nation. By establishing Israel through the minoritization of Palestinian Arabs, Zionist settlers followed the North American example. The result has been another cycle of violence.

Neither Settler nor Native offers a vision for arresting this historical process. Professor Mamdani rejects the “criminal” solution attempted at Nuremberg, which held individual perpetrators responsible without questioning Nazism as a political project and thus the violence of the nation-state itself. Instead, political violence demands political solutions: not criminal justice for perpetrators but a rethinking of the political community for all survivors—victims, perpetrators, bystanders, beneficiaries—based on common residence and the commitment to build a common future without the permanent political identities of settler and native. Professor Mamdani points to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa as an unfinished project, seeking a state without a nation.

About the Speaker

Mahmood Mamdani is the Herbert Lehman Professor of Government in the Department of Anthropology and Political Science and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, where he was also director of the Institute of African Studies from 1999 to 2004. He received his PhD from Harvard University in 1974 and specialises in the study of African history and politics. His works explore the intersection between politics and culture, a comparative study of colonialism since 1452, the history of civil war and genocide in Africa, the Cold War and the War on Terror, and the history and theory of human rights. Prior to joining the Columbia faculty, Mamdani was a professor at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania (1973–1979), Makerere University in Uganda (1980–1993), and the University of Cape Town (1996–1999).

Prof Mamdani has received numerous awards and recognitions, including being listed as one of the ‘Top 20 Public Intellectuals’ by Foreign Policy (US) and Prospect (UK) magazine in 2008. From 1998 to 2002, he served as President of CODESRIA (Council for the Development of Social Research in Africa). His essays have appeared in the New Left Review and the London Review of books, among other journals.

He teaches courses on: major debates in the study of Africa; the modern state and the colonial subject; the Cold War and the Third World; the theory, history, and practice of human rights; and civil wars and the state in Africa.

Prof Mamdani’s books include Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities; Saviours and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror (2009); Good Muslim, Bad Muslim: America, the Cold War and the Roots of Terror (2004); When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism and Genocide in Rwanda (2001); Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism (1996), which was awarded the Herskovitz Prize of the African Studies Association; Politics and Class Formation in Uganda (1976); From Citizen to Refugee(1973); and The Myth of Population Control: Family, Class and Caste in an Indian Village (1972).

Solidarity in Diversity

Highlighting Marginal Voices in Academia, Practice and Society

Monday 19 July to Friday 23 July 2021

Solidarity in Diversity: Highlighting Marginal Voices in Academia, Practice and Society is a five-day, hybrid event presented by the African Studies Group with the Melbourne Social Equity Institute. It seeks to bring together scholars, practitioners, and community members to consider the significant ways social transformations are impacting the African diaspora around the world.

The program begins on Monday 19 July with a morning masterclass organised by Associate Professor Bina Fernandez and Professor Karen Farquharson, which will be held in person at The Forum Theatre, Level 1 Arts West Building, Professor’s Walk, University of Melbourne, Parkville.

This will be followed by an afternoon online debate between graduate students of the University of Newcastle, New South Wales and the University of Melbourne. The debate considers the motion: ‘Solidarity in diversity is a mirage’.

There are two keynote lectures being held online. On Monday 19 July, Professor Mahmood Mamdani will present on his recently published book Neither Settler nor Native: The Making and Unmaking of Permanent Minorities (HUP, 2020). On Friday 23 July, Ms Abiola Ajetomobi, the Director of Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) Innovation Hub, will headline the Practitioner and Community section of the conference. She will speak on the critical role allies and advocates play in changing systems and policies to make society fairer.

For the masterclass, the online debate, and the two keynote lectures, please register your attendance for each individual session.

From Tuesday 20 July to Friday 23 July, there will be daily online panels. Sign up once to receive access to all of the panel sessions.

Entry is free, but a donation is encouraged for those who are able. Register soon because space is limited.

We hope you are able to join us!

For any inquiries, please contact

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