Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment

Conscripts of Modernity The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment At this stalled and disillusioned juncture in postcolonial history when many anticolonial utopias have withered into a morass of exhaustion corruption and authoritarianism David Scott argues the nee

  • Title: Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment
  • Author: David Scott
  • ISBN: 9780822334446
  • Page: 357
  • Format: Paperback
  • At this stalled and disillusioned juncture in postcolonial history when many anticolonial utopias have withered into a morass of exhaustion, corruption, and authoritarianism David Scott argues the need to reconceptualize the past in order to reimagine a usable future He describes how, prior to independence, anticolonialists narrated the transition from colonialism toAt this stalled and disillusioned juncture in postcolonial history when many anticolonial utopias have withered into a morass of exhaustion, corruption, and authoritarianism David Scott argues the need to reconceptualize the past in order to reimagine a usable future He describes how, prior to independence, anticolonialists narrated the transition from colonialism to postcolonialism as romance as a story of overcoming and vindication, of salvation and redemption Scott contends that postcolonial scholarship assumes the same trajectory, and that this imposes conceptual limitations He suggests that tragedy may be a useful narrative frame than romance In tragedy, the future does not appear as an uninterrupted movement forward, but instead as a slow and sometimes reversible series of ups and downs.Scott explores the political and epistemological implications of how the past is conceived in relation to the present and future through a reconsideration of C L R James s masterpiece of anticolonial history, The Black Jacobins, first published in 1938 In that book, James told the story of Toussaint L Ouverture and the making of the Haitian Revolution as one of romantic vindication In the second edition, published in the United States in 1963, James inserted new material suggesting that that story might usefully be told as tragedy Scott uses James s recasting of The Black Jacobins to compare the relative yields of romance and tragedy In an epilogue, he juxtaposes James s thinking about tragedy, history, and revolution with Hannah Arendt s in On Revolution He contrasts their uses of tragedy as a means of situating the past in relation to the present in order to derive a politics for a possible future.

    One thought on “Conscripts of Modernity: The Tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment”

    1. Amazing book, bursting with ideas. Drawing on R.G. Collingwood and Quentin Skinner, among others, Scott engages with C.L.R. James' "The Black Jacobins" to rethink the postcolonial present through the colonial past. The only thing missing from this book, I feel, is a closer engagement with the text of the "Black Jacobins" itself. While this might not be the task that Scott sets for himself - why tread, after all, where the mighty Robert Hill has already tread - but when Scott does engage the text [...]

    2. In Conscripts of Modernity: The tragedy of Colonial Enlightenment, David Scott utilizes his anthropological acumen to excavate his hypothesis by asking the appropriate questions as it relates to politics; and where the concept of anticolonial revolution stands in this present age. Scott states that antiquated questions are no longer adequate for the present age. He states, “ the way one defines the alternative depends on the way one has conceived the problem; consequently, reconceiving alterna [...]

    3. Ok, so I am almost done with this one while i like the fact that he is trying to engage with the politics (and discursive nature) of history, I am sort of enthused by the overindulgence in continental philosophy and what seems to be an uncritical distinguishing between the anticolonialism of the moment that CLR James wrote the black jacobins and now. I guess I am pedestrian in my thinking about that difference but really its not clear to me. Overall: interesting ideas about historical narrative, [...]

    4. Great commentary on C.L.R. James that made me appreciate The Black Jacobins even more as a central document of modernity. I felt there was a bit too much "what I intend to show" and not enough showing, although I feel the book is well worth the time of any fan of The Black Jacobins.

    5. I learned at SCAs that dude is snarky as fuck and has a smooth ass Caribbean accent. Don't know if I like his book yet

    6. read for 240a. interesting points, valuable reminder of the politics of writing. serious questions about the linearity of time in the piece, as well as his appraisals of our present-in-ruins

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