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Antinomies and enticements

This chapter considers aspects of the interplay of modernity and history, as entailing pervasive procedures of the temporalization of space and the spatialization of time. It shows that these protocols have twin dimensions. On the one hand, they entail routine projections of historical time as necessarily homogeneous and yet founded on inaugural spatial ruptures. On the other, they involve antinomian blueprints of social space as innately split but ever along a singular temporal hierarchy. The chapter focuses on some of the distinctions of subjects of modernity and modern subjects, all the while keeping in view modernity's enchantments. Intensely spectral but concretely palpable, forming tangible representations and informing forceful practices, the one bound to the other, the enticements stalk the worlds of modernity's doing and undoing. As worldly knowledge, abiding oppositions, and their constitutive presumptions entered the lives of historical subjects, albeit at different times and in distinct ways.

in Subjects of modernity
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Identities and incitements

This chapter focuses on questions and contentions of identity and modernity, entailing stipulations of time and space. The processes of modernity have frequently imbued with a specific salience the categories-entities of tradition and culture, community and identity, turning them into the very stuff of heritage and history. An apparent irony involving the past in the present turns on and draws together the terrains of history, modernity, and identity. Influential tendencies within postcolonial perspectives and subaltern studies have tended to treat colony and empire as totalized formations, spatially and temporally. Key departures in historical anthropology, subaltern studies, and postcolonial understandings have played an important part in reformulations of approaches to nation, nationalism, and the identities they spawn. The historical identities spawned by colonial cultures have made a striking appearance on the stage of the humanities and the social sciences, inviting reconsiderations of space and time of empires and their subjects.

in Subjects of modernity
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An epilogue

This epilogue turns attention to salient subjects of a modernist provenance on the Indian subcontinent. In South Asia, a certain haziness regarding modernism and modernity derives the fact that they are both frequently filtered through the optics of modernization. Until the end of the 1910s, Indian nationalism had remained a principally middle-class phenomenon, despite some attempts during the Swadeshi period to draw in popular participation in nationalist agitation. From the 1920s onwards, anticolonial nationalism, drawing in popular participation, appeared accompanied by connected yet contending tendencies, socialism and communism, which could now form compelling friendships and now forge intimate enmities. Unsurprisingly, in "progressive" endeavors in the plastic arts, questions of a practice that was adequate to an emergent era, an inviting internationalism, and a modern art came to be of critical import.

in Subjects of modernity
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An introduction

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory, the book focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. The book includes subject as implying branch of learning and area of study, topic and theme, question and matter, and issue and business. The book turns to issues of identity and modernity. Based on particular readings of an array of historical and anthropological writings, it conjoins these with salient emphases of subaltern studies, postcolonial scholarship, and social theory, which are also configured in newer ways. The book weaves together the different strands of the study by exploring the terms of modernism on the Indian subcontinent.

in Subjects of modernity
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Time-space, disciplines, margins

This book explores modernity, the disciplines, and their interplay by drawing in critical considerations of time, space, and their enmeshments. Based in anthropology and history, and drawing on social-political theory (as well as other, complementary, critical perspectives), it focuses on socio-spatial/disciplinary subjects and hierarchical-coeval tousled temporalities. The spatial/temporal templates reveal how modern enticements and antinomies, far from being analytical abstractions, intimate instead ontological attributes and experiential dimensions of the worlds in which we live, and the spaces and times that we inhabit and articulate. Then, the book considers the oppositions and enchantments, the contradictions and contentions, and the identities and ambivalences spawned under modernity. At the same time, rather than approach such antinomies, enticements, and ambiguities as analytical errors or historical lacks, which await their correction or overcoming, it attempts to critically yet cautiously unfold these elements as constitutive of modern worlds. The book draws on social theory, political philosophy, and other scholarship in the critical humanities in order to make its claims concerning the mutual binds between everyday oppositions, routine enchantments, temporal ruptures, and spatial hierarchies of a modern provenance. Then, it turns to issues of identity and modernity. Finally, the book explores the terms of modernism on the Indian subcontinent.

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This chapter describes Theodor Adorno as probably the greatest Marxist cultural theorist of the twentieth century. The uses of Adorno's work are related to the fact that he is at once close to and distant from the perspective of postmodernism. Adorno is interested in the forces which restrict or act as blockages or which suffocate the potentiality for critical self-reflection. The chapter considers these blockages in more detail. The endlessly paradoxical character of Adorno's thought is central and certainly the reliance on paradox derives from G.W.F. Hegel's philosophical lineage. The best way to isolate what is specific to Adorno's own way of doing things is via the work of that proto-postmodernist and brilliant Adorno-interlocutor, Walter Benjamin. In his celebrated 'Work of art' essay, Benjamin sought signs of aesthetic and political redemption in the fate of contemporary cultural production.

in The structure of modern cultural theory

Pierre Bourdieu is most often regarded as a general social theorist, a cultural sociologist or even just a very wide-ranging 'methodologist'. This latter view would make him a figure somewhat like Anthony Giddens or Roy Bhaskar in the English-speaking social sciences. 'The real is the relational' is Bourdieu's most succinct contribution to the social sciences: a relationist theory of society according to which agents move around in particular social spaces, with particular positionings, tendencies and trajectories. Bourdieu's principle of reflexivity is an objectivizing one. The point about objectivising reflexivity is that it provides an analogue to the objectivising tendencies of 'scientific' sociological analysis itself. Reflexivity divides into at least two forms in Bourdieu's work: the sociology of the intellectual field itself, and what Bourdieu calls auto-analysis. The chapter discusses the notion of reflexivity. To understand this notion, it considers the nature of science on Bourdieu's account.

in The structure of modern cultural theory
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This text highlights Cixous's notions and thought, which offer to an individual a very different picture of the subjects of divine love from that which derives from the concept of mutuality that is currently favoured in many feminist theologies. It has noted that mutuality undoubtedly challenges the underlying hierarchical power structures which have informed inter-subjective possibilities within patriarchal cultures and retains a commitment to dualism which undoes the very assertion that subjectivity itself is a relational concept. On the other hand, Cixous's attention to the epistemological conditions of subjectivity, that is, to the relationship between knowledge, self and other, and to the phenomenal conditions which open the category of knowledge to ways of living, provides an alternative foundation for rethinking the structure of self/other relations. For Cixous, as the text suggests, everything happens in the instant, and it is in a feminine approach to the instant that we find the passage to divinity which is truly paved with the love of the other as other.

in The subject of love
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This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book claims that there is, or was, such a thing as modern cultural theory and argued that there is, or was, something ultimately ethical about it. It also claims that cultural theory, at least in its modern form, is characterised by what, for want of better terminology, can be described as a knowledge-constitutive interest that is ultimately ethical in character. This absolutely does not mean that modern cultural theory provides yet another view of what it is to have or be a self in the contemporary era. The book describes Theodor Adorno, Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu as modern cultural theorists to claim that they can be understood, according to a common thread, an agenda, or a 'genre of inquiry'.

in The structure of modern cultural theory

This chapter seeks to get clear of various understandings of culture so as to make way for the conception of the scope of modern cultural theory. It lays the basic elements of some distinctions between modern cultural theory and other types of discourse such as cultural studies, cultural sociology and cultural anthropology. The chapter discusses the authors' own sense of what modern cultural theory actually is, attempting, partly by way of Georg Simmel, to convey the antinomical idea of culture that is fundamental to it. Simmel shows why art, especially the modernist art of his time, is important for the antinomical view of culture: for if anything resists the freezing of life into form, it is modernist art. The chapter further emphasises on the analysis of culture as the institutionalisation of creative convention and is concerned with something like the ethics of culture or critical reflexivity.

in The structure of modern cultural theory