Critical Inquiry Critical Inquiry

Around 1948

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Transformation

Edited by Leela Gandhi and Deborah L. Nelson 

Forthcoming, Summer 2014

In 2011–12, Leela Gandhi and Deborah Nelson convened a John E. Sawyer Seminar at the University of Chicago to look at the year 1948—a remarkable historical moment—across a range of international locations and from the point of view of several disciplines. This special issue of Critical Inquiry builds on their findings and showcases some significant contributions to the seminar by historians and literary scholars. One premise, now as before, is that few moments in world history have had such far-reaching impact, temporally and geographically, in terms of intellectual developments and lived experience. A second premise is that these developments both merit extensive study in themselves and reward comparative study in relation to one another. Like a few other dates in the modern period—1848, 1968, and 1989—the year 1948 stands for an abbreviated passage of time that bears importance and potency for many diverse locations, movements, peoples, and fields. Yet unlike these other moments, 1948 has not been the subject of sustained scrutiny. Too intense a preoccupation with scenes of consolidation—the clear and hard path of cold war history, for example—has seriously limited our ability to ask fresh questions and ascertain contingencies that have gone unremarked. Without the powerful frame of a cold war logic, which was only emergent in 1948, different paradigms and different events can stand at the center of inquiry. Such study can provide important clues to understanding the direction the world has taken since or, indeed, which direction it might have taken had certain paths been rejected, some options chosen over others. A final premise is that this type of transnational analysis concerning actualized and potential histories demands new forms of interdisciplinary collaboration between the humanities and the social sciences—specifically, favoring humanistic methodologies for assessing materials and themes that fall under the remit of the traditional social sciences.

Full Table of Contents of below, with links to prepublication copy of articles by Lydia Liu and Timothy Mitchell….

Table of Contents

Leela Gandhi and Deborah L. Nelson, Editors’ Introduction

Mark Mazower
, “The End of Eurocentrism.”

Rashid Khalidi
, “1948 and after in Palestine: Universal Themes?”

Ariella Azoulay
, “Palestine as Symptom, Palestine as Hope: Revising Human Rights Discourse.”

Samuel Moyn, “
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 in the History of Cosmopolitanism.”

Lydia H. Liu
, “Shadows of Universalism: The Untold Story of Human Rights around 1948.” (CLICK THROUGH FOR PDF)

Amanda Anderson
, “Postwar Aesthetics: The Case of Trilling and Adorno.”

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, “
Zeitgeist and the Literary Text: India, 1947, in Qurratulain Hyder’s My Temples, Too and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.”

Frederick Cooper
, “French Africa, 1947–48: Reform, Violence, and Uncertainty in a Colonial Situation.”

Timothy Mitchell, “
Economentality: How the Future Entered Government.” (CLICK THROUGH FOR PDF)