Second National Symposium
The Human Sciences in the Time of Disciplinary Decadence
10-12 February 2011
Venue: Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences, Baroda
Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences, in collaboration with the Forum on Contemporary Theory, will be organizing a national symposium on the topic “The Human Sciences in the Time of Disciplinary Decadence” in Baroda during 10-12 February 2011 to coincide with Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s visit to the Centre for delivering the third Balvant Parekh Distinguished Lecture on February 11. Professor Spivak has agreed to participate in the symposium and make critical interventions during discussion. Her lecture “Teaching Literature Today” will “consider the importance of teaching literary reading actively in a world that de-values the humanities in every sense.” At a time when the teaching of literature and philosophy has become a low priority for our educational planners, her observations and comments on Indian educational scenario will provide an impetus for rethinking the value of humanistic learning at a time when there seems to be some decadence in disciplinary structures of our knowledge-systems. One has to appreciate in that context the relevance of the human sciences as a methodological answer to the ossification of disciplines at present. Historically speaking, the human sciences emerged during the time of the First World War from a crisis in European thought; now is perhaps the time of the second renaissance of that awakening. At a time when disciplines like the humanities and social sciences are under a serious threat from the market forces that have considered these knowledge-generating fields of study as useless luxuries for social well-being, one needs to recall the old Greek term “theoria” for reclaiming what could be called an “originary experience” of knowledge combining a penchant for theory and its application in praxis. The human sciences have to be understood as an attempt to get back to that experience. As a hybrid episteme drawing its sustenance from the positive attributes of both the sciences (natural and social) and the humanities, the human sciences seem to have provided a way
out of the “disciplinary decadence,” to use a phrase from Lewis Gordon, our institutions have fallen into. They are also an attempt to simultaneously de-transcendentalize Theory as abstraction and to distil empirical praxis to conceptual reflection. Professor Spivak’s recent works and concerns are directed toward that effort. We hope the papers presented at the symposium and the discussion held will offer staple material for a volume, which the Centre will be happy to bring out. Those who want to participate in this Symposium should mail their abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org by December 15, 2010. Full papers should reach us by January 15, 2011.
Registration fee for participation is: Rs.1000/ (Rupees one thousand only), which may be sent by money order or bank draft favoring Balvant Parekh Centre for General Semantics and Other Human Sciences by January 15.
The fee will take care of lunch and tea during the symposium.