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Thinking Together
Thinking Together

Decolonizing Time

Thinking Together – Conference, part 1 | part 2

12:00 Donna Haraway
Statements on “Decolonizing Time”
Excerpts from a pre-recorded video interview with Berno Odo Polzer

12:15 C. K. Raju
Decolonizing Time: Time at the Interface of Religion and Science

13:30 Rolando Vázquez
Decolonizing Time and the Question of Precedence

15:00 Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh
Enemy Imagination: The Assassins of Western Thought

16:00 Rana Issa
Morbid Time and the Return of the Antic in Syrian Writing

This year’s “Thinking Together” opening conference on “Decolonizing Time” is a proposal to think beyond Western-centric time regimes. The linear, unidirectional, clock-based temporal matrix of Western modernity encoded in notions like “universal time”, “universal history”, “progress”, or “contemporaneity” is strongly interrelated with the hegemonic mind. “Thinking Together” 2017 seeks to investigate the normative chrono-politics of modernity, in search for a multiplicity of decolonized temporalities.

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Donna Haraway
Statements on “Decolonizing Time”
Excerpts from a pre-recorded video interview with Berno Odo Polzer

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C. K. Raju
Decolonizing Time: Time at the Interface of Religion and Science

Colonialism captured the mind, by sustained indoctrination through Western education – for centuries a church monopoly. It gave three time-gifts to the colonised, all deeply influenced by church politics.
First, the religious Gregorian calendar, an unscientific method of timekeeping, which spreads the AD/BC superstition, while ruining Indian farmers even today.
Second, the clock, a symbol used on church steeples to depict the immediacy of apocalypse. Ironically, both calendar and clock provide robust, non-textual evidence against the fictitious history of science used by Thomas Babington Macaulay to impose colonial education.
The third time gift was the clockwork cosmos in the name of science. Aquinas said that god rules the world with laws of nature, which supposed laws were later formulated as differential equations. Because neither Newton nor Leibniz understood the calculus, imported from India, the very formulation of those differential equations today assumes formal real numbers, and that time is like a line. Newtonian physics failed just because he, similarly, made time metaphysical.
Calculus must be understood using zeroism, not formalism. This permits the reformulation of science by a partial return to the notion of quasi-cyclic time. “Cyclic” time was cursed by the post-Nicene church, by confounding quasi-cyclic with supercyclic time, as did Nietzsche. However, quasi-cyclic time permits a cosmos with creativity and spontaneity, without which art cannot exist. This also restores the original notion of soul as a scientific possibility.

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Rolando Vázquez
Decolonizing Time and the Question of Precedence

The question of time sits at the heart of the decolonial critique of modernity. Modernity, the western project of civilization, has been characterized by a relation to the real (to earth, world and ourselves) that is articulated by a particular temporality. The 'metaphysics of presence' has meant the reduction of time to chronology, and the confinement of experience to empty time. It has meant the impoverishing of our site of experience, of our relation to the communal, to earth and to what precedes us. In contrast, the decolonial comes under the sign of the return. It brings to the fore the thinking of relational temporalities, as a different way to experience and produce reality. By shredding the surface of empty time, relational temporalities signal a break with modern ontology. It delinks itself both from radical immanence and abstract forms of transcendence. Relational temporalities bring to the fore the mode of precedence as the thought of an ontology grounded on the coming into presence of multiplicity of times. Precedence tells us that under the surface of representation we are before the before. It tells us that what precedes us is a grounding projection, it antecedes and anticipates us, it is always already before us. Decolonial temporalities disobey the confinement of experience to empty time, decoloniality breaks with the normativity of contemporaneity, the reification of earth and the enclosure of the self in the space of representation.

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Jason Bahbak Mohaghegh
Enemy Imagination: The Assassins of Western Thought

This talk explores a kind of philosophical warfare between the so-called East and West along the axis of temporality, tracking a strangely fatal arc through which the icons of Western thought envision the approach of some ominous/unbound futural figure (Nietzsche and the overman, Bataille and the headless, Deleuze and the nomad, Foucault and the barbarian) that are then incarnated by a series of Middle Eastern poetic visionaries (al-Buraikan and the Bedouin, Adonis and the assassin, Darwish and the exile, Shamlu and the horseman). Through this mirroring of existential silhouettes, one can locate a fiercely anti-colonial East-West pendulum that threatens to break open modern subjectivity from a timescape beyond its own confines. Thus a hostile intersection of images, and with each a different technique of epochal overthrow.

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Rana Issa
Morbid Time and the Return of the Antic in Syrian Writing

For exiles, it is always a matter of time. Time measured in human degeneration, in units of lifetime. Our bodies are out of balance in exile. In the space of displacement, our bodies experience exile as a waste of lifetime, a monumental and greatly insurmountable waste of lifetime. Exile awakens in us the idea of our insignificant lives. We may think we matter, until we go into exile. Then we discover that we decay. In such conditions of dejected existentialism, it is difficult to sustain any frank political thoughts. For in the exilic rupture, we lose out on those who we wanted to become political with. In exile our numbers are reduced, and so we transform into an expiring minority, so atomized that our voices become imperceptible and out of synch with this new place where we moved.

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Audio recordings of the lectures will be documented on voicerepublic.com

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