Monday, March 27, 2017

"The essay seems to vacillate between the urge to expose the hypocrisy or mendacity of power in its use of humanitarianism as char- ter for invasion and domination, a critique that might still leave a (liberal) concept of the human intact, and a drive to expose a deeper, constitutive, and unredeemable involvement of the very concept of the human (and in particular, the suffering human) in the violence of geopolitical power. Repeatedly, though not consistently, Asad’s essay reaches for this sense of a deeper crisis of the modern concept of the human and its wider constellation rather than its (cynical, partial, and hypocritical) manipulation by power. But whether or not he subscribes to any version of the posthuman paradigm currently in vogue remains utterly unclear...

Throughout the essay, as in much of Asad’s writing, one gets the sense that there are only these two sociocultural realities (and modes of thinking) in the world: the liberal-secular-modern (which is imperialist in its worldly career) and those “traditional” forms that have somehow escaped its hold. [For insrance, a] mode of analysis of Afghan society and culture that is as scrupulous in its critique of the logics of imperial violence as in its approach to institutionalized (and traditionalized) forms of violence against women in Afghan society seems inconceivable in these terms"

 — Aamir Mufti on Talal Asad's essay Reflections on Law, Violence, and Humanitarianism (2015)

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