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2016 Workshop: The Future of the Humanities and Anthropological Difference: Beyond the Modern Regime of Translation

FUTH 2016 workshop poster

The Cornell East Asia Program (EAP), in collaboration with the Flying University of Transnational Humanities (FUTH*),  the Collège International de Philosophie (France), L’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS; France), and The Society for the Humanities at Cornell held an international workshop July 10-14, 2016 “the Future of the Humanities and Anthropological Difference: Beyond the Modern Regime of Translation.” The workshop took place on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.

This workshop featured small group seminars led by leading translation studies thinkers as well as daily keynote lectures and roundtables open to the public and all participants. The seminar participants, graduate students and young scholars from institutes in Japan, England, Taiwan, India, Ukraine, France, China, Germany, and across North America, attended daily sessions of one of the three seminars, presented to their colleagues on their work, critiqued the papers of their fellow seminar participants, and contributed to the general dialogue of the workshop. 

Hosted by Naoki Sakai (Cornell University, USA), the workshop addresses problematics of the role of the modern regime of translation in the knowledge production that founds work in the humanities and the social sciences. The practice and the theory of translation has been a mainstay for work in the humanities and in area studies in particular. The workshop examined what roles translation plays in the changing status of, and on-going reorganization of, the university. The workshop featured keynote talks by Boris Buden (Bauhaus University, Weimar, Germany) and Nadia Yala Kisukidi (Collège International de Philosophie and Université de Genève), as well as three multi-day seminars led by Joyce C.H. Liu (National Chiao Tung University, Taiwan), Jon Solomon (Jean-Moulin Lyon-3 University, France), and Rada Ivekovic (Collège International de Philosophie, Paris, France).  Each seminar leader also gave a talk to all workshop participants. See below for the seminar topics.

The disciplines for modern knowledge production on human nature – generally referred to as the Humanities or human sciences - have been accommodated within the historically-specific bi-polar structure that consists of two orientations. The first, normative sciences without geopolitical modifiers, disciplinary forms of knowledge production on what has been regarded as humanitas or human beings in general. The second, particular disciplines of knowledge production on what have been seen as anthropos or human beings in their specificity, whose particularity is marked by geopolitical adjectivals. The interdisciplinary formation of area studies presupposes the putative object of their inquiry quite differently from the normative human science, whose object presumably is one aspect or another of universal human nature. In the last several decades, the Eurocentric structure of humanistic knowledge has been exposed and critiqued in a number of academic accomplishments. Relying on the consequences of such expositions, we are concerned with why such a structure remains largely intact in the disciplinary configuration of the Humanities even today, and also what sorts of attempts can be encouraged and cultivated to undermine the bipolarity of the Humanities. For this reason, as the central theme for this workshop, we have decided to adopt the changing status of area studies in the Humanities and social sciences at American universities as well as in higher education in the rest of the world. 

   * FUTH is a consortium of universities: Hanyang University (South Korea), University of Leipzig (Germany), University of Pittsburgh (USA), St. Andrews University (UK), University of Tampere (Finland), National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan), Sogang University (South Korea). 

FUTH workshop lectures and roundtables video album on EAP Vimeo

FUTH Program Schedule


Sunday, July 10, 2016 

Opening remarks – Naoki Sakai - FUTH 2016 Workshop welcome

Nadia Yala Kisukidi

Lecture (public) – Nadia Yala Kisukidi - "Philosophy as an «anthropological object»"

Yala Kisukidi is a doctor of philosophy, a specialist of Bergson and contemporary French philosophy. She is currently assistant in ethics and philosophy at the University of Geneva and Director of Programs at the Collège International de Philosophie. 

Should we consider the expression «occidental philosophy» as a pleonasm? Is the philosophical reason a colonial one? Those questions were at the core of a debate that took place in Africa in the middle of the 20th century: «Is there an african philosophy?» 

The aim of this presentation is not to draw the well-known intellectual history of this important philosophical debate. It has two, interrelated objectives. First, I argue that this debate was grounded in an epistemic claim, that can be understood in the wording of Jacques Derrida as a «right to philosophy» claim. Then, I show how this debate explores three antithetical - but equally relevant - ways to decolonize philosophy. Each of these pathways questions the politics of philosophy in schools and university on a global scale. But they are torn between two options: to defend the paradigm of the humanities or to explore the possibility of creating a general anthropology of knowledge. 

The issue of this communication is to define those two options and to describe how they allow us to rethink the general scheme of the knowledge.

Boris Buden

Keynote lecture (public) - Boris Buden - "Translation after History: On Revernacularization of National Languages"

Boris Buden received his Ph.D. in cultural theory from Humboldt University in Berlin. In the 90s he was editor in the magazine Arkzin Zagreb. His essays and articles cover topics of philosophy, politics, cultural and art criticism. He has participated in various conferences and art exhibitions in Western and Eastern Europe, Asia and USA, among other Documenta XI. Buden is the author of Barikade Zagreb, 1996/1997, Kaptolski Kolodvor, Belgrade 2001, Der Schacht von Babel, Berlin 2004. Zone des Übergangs, Frankfurt/Main, 2009. Buden is board member of the European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies in Vienna and visiting scholar at Bauhaus University Weimar.

Naoki Sakai

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lecture (public) – Naoki Sakai - "The Ends of Area Studies" 

Naoki Sakai teaches in the departments of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies and is a member of the graduate field of History at Cornell University. He has published in a number of languages in the fields of comparative literature, intellectual history, translation studies, the studies of racism and nationalism, and the histories of semiotic and literary multitude - speech, writing, corporeal expressions, calligraphic regimes, and phonographic traditions. His publications include: Translation and SubjectivityVoices of the Past, and The Stillbirth of the Japanese as a Language and as an Ethnos. He has led the project of TRACES, a multilingual series in four languages – Spanish, Korean, Chinese, English, and Japanese - whose editorial office is located at Cornell, and served as its founding senior editor (1996 - 2004). In addition to TRACES, Naoki Sakai serves as a member of the following editorial boards, positions - asia cultures critique (in the United States), Post-colonial studies (in Britain), Tamkang Review (in Taiwan), and ASPECTS (South Korea).

Seminar session 1 |

  • Seminar 1a – Joyce Liu "Globalization and the Apparatus of Area Partitions in East Asia: The Problematic Location of Taiwan—the Aporia and its Exit"
  • Seminar 1b – Rada Ivekovic "Theory and practice in translation and the partitioning of reason" 
  • Seminar 1c – Jon Solomon "Translation, Colonial Difference and the Neoliberal University"

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Seminar session 2 |

  • Seminar 2a – Liu "Globalization and the Apparatus of Area Partitions in East Asia: The Problematic Location of Taiwan—the Aporia and its Exit"
  • Seminar 2b – Ivekovic "Theory and practice in translation and the partitioning of reason" 
  • Seminar 2c – Solomon "Translation, Colonial Difference and the Neoliberal University" 
Rada Ivekovic

Lecture (public) – Rada Ivekovic - "Theory and practice in translation and the partitioning of reason" 

Former programme director at the Collège international de philosophie (2004-2010), Paris, philosopher, indologist, writer, she was born in Zagreb, Yugoslavia, in 1945. She taught at the Philosophy department of Zagreb University, then at universities in France (Paris-7; Paris-8 Saint-Denis; Saint-Etienne), and was visiting professor at many other universities in different countries. She published books in different languages concerning philosophy in general (Indian or comparative, though not exclusively, and including some translations from Sanskrit or Pali, textbooks, essays), political philosophy, feminist philosophy, (literary) criticism, essays. 

Roundtable discussion (public) – On anthropological difference at work

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Seminar session 3 |

  • Seminar 3a – Liu "Globalization and the Apparatus of Area Partitions in East Asia: The Problematic Location of Taiwan—the Aporia and its Exit"
  • Seminar 3b – Ivekovic "Theory and practice in translation and the partitioning of reason" 
  • Seminar 3c – Solomon "Translation, Colonial Difference and the Neoliberal University"

Seminar session 4 |

  • Seminar 4a - Liu "Globalization and the Apparatus of Area Partitions in East Asia: The Problematic Location of Taiwan—the Aporia and its Exit"
  • Seminar 4b - Ivekovic "Theory and practice in translation and the partitioning of reason"
  • Seminar 4c - Solomon "Translation, Colonial Difference and the Neoliberal University"
Joyce Liu

Lecture (public) – Joyce C.H. Liu - "Internal Colonization and Affective Regimes: Re-considering Border Thinking and Immanent Critique"

Dr. Liu’s research covers psychoanalysis, critical theories, classical Chinese philosophy, East-Asian modernity and inter-art studies. Her courses deal with issues related with politics, aesthetics and ethics, including readings of Marx, Freud, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Lacan, Bataille, Derrida, Althusser, Foucault, Rancière, Balibar, Badiou, and Agamben. She has published five books, more than 70 journal and book articles, edited 13 books, and translated 2 theoretical books.

Professor Liu received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1984, and is Professor of Critical Theory, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature in the Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, Chiao Tung University, Taiwan. She is currently the Chair of the Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies that she founded in 2002. She is also the director of the International Institute for Cultural Studies of the University System of Taiwan, a network system connecting four distinguished research-oriented universities in Taiwan, including National Chiao Tung University, National Tsing-Hua University, National Central University and National Yang Ming University. She serves as the chief editor of the only journal of cultural studies in Taiwan, Routers: A Journal of Cultural Studies, since 2011.

Jon Solomon

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lecture (public) – Jon Solomon - "Logistical Species and Translation Process"

Born in the United States and trained at Cornell University, Jon Solomon has lived in East Asia for 25 years, North America for 23, and Western Europe for 2. He is competent in Chinese, French, English and Japanese, and holds a permanent position as Professeur des universités at Université Jean Moulin, Lyon, France. He is a practitioner in the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages of Tibetan Buddhism, enjoys the hobbies of backpacking, rangefinder photography, and the community of indie music in Taiwan.His on-going intellectual project brings the theme of translation into the discussion about biopolitics as a privileged place for understanding and transforming the relations between anthropological difference and capitalist accumulation.

Roundtable of seminars 

Wrap-up – FUTH continues