Priors and Priorities Graduate Conference

The Harvard University Mahindra Center for the Humanities, and the Science, Religion, and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School, announce the “Priors and Priorities: Conceiving Time and Other Bodies” graduate conference, to be held April 20-21, 2018, at the Mahindra Humanities Center in Cambridge, MA. This interdisciplinary two-day conference takes as its central problematic the temporal displacements that mark the colonial and postcolonial condition. Modernity for Europe in the 18th century inhabited a fundamental paradox, what Elizabeth Povinelli identifies as the “governance of the prior,” where social, political, and economic life relied on an imperial project invested in differential civilizational time. Our conference, building on this insight, explores the tense of the colonized Other, who is made to occupy a place of prior-ness without priority. Colonialism imagines colonized peoples as prior to the arrival of the modern, yet strips them of priority. It consistently marks colonized peoples as savage, primitive, traditional, categorically prior to the time of modern society—in the process, producing a queer subject who haunts the colonial present. Bodies in this tense are both queered and racialized—relegated to a sexually non-normative past, racially incommensurable present, and discursively impossible future.

“Priors and Priorities” is grounded in an intellectual commitment to consider colonized, racialized, and queered bodies and histories as intersecting and mutually constituted. Analyzing the temporalities of Black, Brown and Queer bodies and histories requires an interdisciplinary approach that bridges postcolonial theory, critical race theory, and queer theory in order to understand the reverberations of being prior without priority.

For more information, visit Priors and Priorites Conference at MHC.