What is the role of critical theory today and who is it for? What kind of maps can theory provide in the context of entrenched capitalist crisis? These are some of the questions posed by this seminar series.
In the aftermath of various mutations of twentieth-century 'critical theory' (Frankfurt School, 'French Theory', etc.), proponents of 'postcritique' have argued that critical theory has 'run out of steam'. Instead, this seminar series starts from the premise that 21st-century crisis has also generated dynamic new ways of reconsidering these questions. A critical theory of the present is necessarily a crisis theory.
In this session, Sara Salem will give a talk titled 'Anticolonial Contradictions: Temporality, Capital and Theory in 1950s Egypt.'
This talk explores the powerful project created in the aftermath of Egypt’s decolonisation in the 1950s and 1960s through an imagined conversation between Antonio Gramsci and Frantz Fanon, two foundational theorists of anti-capitalism and anticolonialism. Questions of decolonisation, capitalism, temporality, and mastery are explored in order to excavate anticolonial politics in all of its complexity. The talk asks what the contradictions present within these projects can tell us about social theory more broadly, as well as how we narrate, theorise, and remember histories of anticolonial struggle.
Sara Salem is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at the London School of Economics. Her research interests include political sociology, postcolonial studies, Marxist theory, and global histories of anticolonialism. Her recently published book with Cambridge University Press is titled Anticolonial Afterlives in Egypt: The Politics of Hegemony (2020).