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Conscripts of Modernity

Conscripts of Modernity - 04 edition

ISBN13: 978-0822334446

Cover of Conscripts of Modernity 04 (ISBN 978-0822334446)
ISBN13: 978-0822334446
ISBN10: 0822334445
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 04
Publisher: Duke University Press
Published: 2004
International: No

List price: $24.95

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Conscripts of Modernity - 04 edition

ISBN13: 978-0822334446

David Scott

ISBN13: 978-0822334446
ISBN10: 0822334445
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 04
Publisher: Duke University Press

Published: 2004
International: No
Summary

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 imagine a more 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 in the present this imposes conceptual limitations. He suggests that tragedy may be a more useful narrative frame than romance. In tragedy, the future does not appear as part of a seamless forward movement, 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 the 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 distill from it a politics for a possible future.

Author Bio

David Scott is a professor of anthropology at Columbia University.

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