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"Keywords for Today" and "Political Concepts": A Dialogue on the Terms We Use and Don't Use

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Keywords for Today: A 21st Century Vocabulary, due out this fall, is the result of years of work by a collective of scholars from the UK, the US, and elsewhere. Working on the basis of Raymond Williams' 1976 classic Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, the new volume extends and updates 40 of the original entries and adds 85 more short essays on the twists and turns, emphases and omissions, contests and usages: love along with network, truth along with youth, democracy along with violence.  This afternoon event features the volume's two head editors, Colin MacCabe and Holly Yanacek, as well as two members of the editorial collective, Jonathan Arac and Arjuna Parakrama.

Commentators will include several New York scholars: political theorist Susan Buck-Morss, anthropologist Miriam Ticktin, and literary scholar Emily Apter, co-editor of the monumental Dictionary of Untranslatables.  The event also brings the Keywords Project into dialogue with representatives of a kindred and ongoing project housed in part at Columbia: Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon.  The flavor of its work can be tasted by some of the concepts posted thus far: agency and animals, archive and authority, blood and bubbles.  Political Concepts speakers will include Etienne Balibar, Akeel Bilgrami, Stathis Gourgouris, and Ann Stoler.

The format of the event asks speakers from each project to direct comments to the project of the others.  All are welcome as far as space permits.


2:30 Introduction: Bruce Robbins, Columbia University

2:45-4:00 PM:  The Keywords Project
Moderator: Miriam Ticktin, Anthropology, The New School
Colin MacCabe, University of Pittsburgh
Holly Yanacek, James Madison University
Arjuna Parakrama, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Response: [from the Political Concepts team] Emily Apter, New York University

4:00 to 4:15 Coffee Break

4:15-5:30 PM: The Political Concepts Project
Moderator: Stathis Gourgouris, Columbia University
Ann Stoler, The New School
Akeel Bilgrami, Columbia University
Etienne Balibar, Columbia University and the University of Paris

Response: [from the Keywords team]: Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh

5:30 -6:30 PM: Final Roundtable
Susan Buck-Morss, City University of New York
Stathis Gourgouris, Columbia University
Arjuna Parakrama, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
Emily Apter, New York University
Holly Yanacek, James Madison University
Jonathan Arac, University of Pittsburgh
Colin MacCabe, University of Pittsburgh

This event is co-sponsored by The Center for the Study of Social Difference (CSSD) as part of our Keywords project. Additional sponsorship by: The Heyman Center, University Seminars, The Department of English and Comparative Literature, The Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and The Office of the Dean of Humanities.