Philosophy and Critical Theory

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Philip Nanton

The book argues that the frontier, usually associated with the era of colonial conquest, has great, continuing and under explored relevance to the Caribbean region. Identifying the frontier as a moral, ideational and physical boundary between what is imagined as civilization and wilderness, the book seeks to extend frontier analysis by focusing on the Eastern Caribbean multi island state of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The continuing relevance of the concept of frontier, and allied notions of civilization and wilderness, are illuminated through an analysis of the ways in which SVG is perceived and experienced by both outsiders to the society and its insiders. Using literary sources, biographies and autobiography, the book shows how St. Vincent is imagined and made sense of as a modern frontier; a society in the balance between an imposed civilized order and an untameable wild that always encroaches, whether in the form of social dislocation, the urban presence of the ‘Wilderness people’ or illegal marijuana farming in the northern St. Vincent hills. The frontier as examined here has historically been and remains very much a global production. Simultaneously, it is argued that contemporary processes of globalization shape the development of tourism and finance sectors, as well as patterns of migration, they connect to shifting conceptions of the civilized and the wild, and have implications for the role of the state and politics in frontier societies.

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Philip Nanton

Frontier retentions are examined at the collective and at the micro level. Forms of frontier retention discussed include the ideological through revisionist history and managerially through the conflict over managing a marine park. Frontier retentions are also illustrated by tracing the history of a number of frontier characters including a dame-school teacher, an isolated surgeon and a woodcutter.

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Philip Nanton

This afterword makes a case for frontier analysis as an approach to Caribbean studies. The chapter suggests an emphasis on searching for common ground rather than specificity as a way to understand the Caribbean region in relation to the world. Such an approach helps to overcome disciplinary boundary lines, alters and enlarges the frame of analysis and incorporates an understanding of the global in the regional context.

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Civilisation and wilderness

The St Vincent and the Grenadines context

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Philip Nanton

This chapter explores colonial and postcolonial strategies for implementing civilization and banishing wilderness in St. Vincent. These strategies involve attempts to ‘improve’ nature, including controlling the ‘savage’ black population and pragmatic interventions to improve public utilities as well as more recent postcolonial strategies of nation building.

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Subjects of modernity

An introduction

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Saurabh Dube

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.

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Subjects of modernity

Time-space, disciplines, margins

Series:

Saurabh Dube

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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Modern subjects

An epilogue

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Saurabh Dube

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.

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Margins of modernity

Identities and incitements

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Saurabh Dube

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.

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Maps of modernity

Antinomies and enticements

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Saurabh Dube

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.

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Intimations of modernity

Time and space

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Saurabh Dube

This chapter is cast as a personal narrative. It unravels how the author arrived at inklings and understandings of space and time - alongside those of disciplines and subjects, modernity and identity. The chapter explores processes that braided time, space, and their enmeshments. The contentious enmeshments shaped the mission project and a vernacular Christianity. The chapter is concerned with the acute entanglements between missionary and convert, colonial cultures and vernacular Christianity, empire and modernity, and power and difference, shored up by overlapping yet heterogeneous articulations of time and space. Away from the mutual constitution of these critical copulas by their constitutive elements as well as each other, the work of subaltern studies principally rested on keeping the segments apart, bringing into play temporal-spatial demarcations.