Critique, the political, and migration in the extended post-Cold War era
Dace Dzenovska, Associate Professor in the Anthropology of Migration
Many scholars socialized in the Enlightenment tradition and Western social theory, whether the principal intellectual frame of reference be Kantian, Marxist, feminist, postcolonial, or the various poststructuralist variants thereof, think of themselves as engaged in the work of critique. This project of critique historicizes the present and proposes that things could be otherwise; indeed, that we could be “other than we are”. Insofar as this project of critique is conceived as pushing against the limits of the dominant ways of thinking and organizing collective life, its nature and effects are also thought and hoped to be political.
In this talk, I reflect on critique and the political in the extended post-Cold War era. I argue that the end of the bi-polar world order has significantly altered the workings of power, as well as imaginaries of the future—for example, the ability to imagine the future other than dystopia has been seriously confounded. As a result, critique and politics—as both scholarly and worldly projects—are increasingly conceived spatially, that is, as projects of decolonization, occupation, re-bordering, and more. In this context, migration has emerged as a crucial site of governance, as well as a crucial site for re-imagining critique and the political. What does this tension between migration as a site of governance and as a site of critique and politics mean for institutionalized forms of studying migration?