Book Discussion on ‘Decolonizing Theory: Thinking Across Traditions’

About the Discussion (CLICK TO WATCH)

Decolonizing Theory: Thinking Across Traditions aims at disentangling theory from its exclusively Western provenance, drawing insights and concepts from other thought traditions, connecting to what it argues is a new global moment in the reconstitution of theory. The key argument, which is the point of departure of the book, is that any serious theorizing in the non-West should be fundamentally suspicious of any theory that only gives you one result-that four-fifths of the world does not and cannot do anything right. Everything in the non-West, from its modernity and secularism to its democracy and even capitalism, is always seen to be deficient. In other words, all it tells us is that we do not live up to the standards set by Western modernity. From this point of departure, it seeks to create a conceptual space outside (Western) modernity and capitalism, by insisting on a rethink of non-synchronous synchronicities.

The book takes three key themes around which the whole story of modernity can be unraveled, namely the question of the political, capital and historical time, and secularism for a detailed discussion. It does so by bracketing, in a sense, the autobiographical story that Western modernity gives itself. In each case, it tries to show that past forms never simply disappear, without residue, to be fully supplanted by the modern, and merely applying theory produced in one context to another is, therefore, very misleading.

About Other Universals Webinar Series

The Other Universals consortium, Centre for Humanities Research (CHR) at the University of the Western Cape Town is hosting a series of webinars. These talks draw on political and aesthetic traditions and movements of thought and practice. They examine radical traditions and ideas of expansive citizenship that have emerged in the colonial and postcolonial modern. Particular focus is on idioms of difference, which define insider and outsider, majority and minority, how these emerged, were negotiated and transcended.


Aditya Nigam is a Political Theorist and a Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.


Ari Sitas is a sociologist, poet and dramatist and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Cape Town.

Haydee Bangerezako completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the Makerere Institute of Social Research (MISR), Makerere University.

Friday, 30 October 2020
6.30 pm, Zoom