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Interior Frontiers: Dangerous Concepts in our Times

Ann Laura Stoler
Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies, The New School for Social Research
5pm, Wilson 214

This paper is part of an extended effort to identify some of the conditions that produce ways of thinking and being about what is rendered inside and outside the circumferences of comfort and the circumscribed parameters of care. It explores how those demarcations, and what Clifford Geertz once called the“delicacies of distinction,” are drawn. The paper makes a case for thinking about what Etienne Balibar once called the “astonishing” term “interior frontiers,” touching on some chilling features of the relationship between personal and polity, as well as on why closure, confinement, and removal from the “interior” are made to make ‘common sense.’ Professor Stoler looks at the polyvalence of the term “interior frontiers” that both promises comfort and, even in its most seemingly benevolent strains, invests in the distinctions of human kinds and appraisals of inequitable worth.

The lecture is being co-sponsored by the Department of History.

A reception will follow the lecture.

Ann Laura Stoler is Willy Brandt Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at The New School for Social Research. Stoler is the director of the Institute for Critical Social Inquiry. She taught at the University of Michigan from 1989-2003 and has been at the New School for Social Research since 2004, where she was the founding chair of its revitalized Anthropology Department. She has worked for some thirty years on the politics of knowledge, colonial governance, racial epistemologies, the sexual politics of empire, and ethnography of the archives. She has been a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études, the École Normale Supérieure and Paris 8, Cornell University’s School of Criticism and Theory, Birzeit University in Ramallah,  the Johannesburg Workshop in Theory and Criticism, Irvine’s School of Arts and Literature, and the Bard Prison Initiative. She is the recipient of NEH, Guggenheim, NSF, SSRC, and Fulbright awards, among others. Recent interviews with her are available at Savage Minds, Le Monde, and Public Culture, as well as Pacifica Radio.

Her books include Capitalism and Confrontation in Sumatra’s Plantation Belt, 1870–1979 (1985; 1995) Race and the Education of Desire: Foucault’s History of Sexuality and the Colonial Order of Things (1995), Carnal Knowledge and Imperial Power: Race and the Intimate in Colonial Rule (2002, 2010), Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense (2009) and the edited volumes Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World (with Frederick Cooper, 1997), Haunted by Empire: Geographies of Intimacy in North American History (2006), Imperial Formations (with Carole McGranahan and Peter Perdue, 2007) and Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination (2013), and Duress: Imperial Durabilities in Our Times (2016). Her commitment to joining conceptual and historical research has lead to collaborative work with historians, literary scholars and philosophers, and most recently in the creation of the journal Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon, of which she is one of the founding editors.

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