Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“


Amir Ali (New Delhi)

Short Bio

The urban blight of the ghetto and the plight of the resident: difference, multiculturalism and similarities

My existing work on the ghetto looks specifically at the Jamia Nagar locality of New Delhi in India. This is an almost completely Muslim dominated locality (98%) that is characterized by the intense population density of the area and the stigmatization that the area and its residents experience. Using the work of Loic Wacquant I argue that the bears a dual relationship with the state of an absence and a presence. The absence arises from the area being neglected in terms of basic municipal and civic facilities which residents often complain about. The presence arises from the intense surveillance and policing of the area that residents have again complained about, especially in the aftermath of the Batla House encounter of 2008, in which the Delhi police claimed to have identified the safe house in which the terror suspects of the September 2008 Delhi bombings were hiding. In the sensational encounter that followed, the Delhi police killed two of the terror suspects losing one of their own highly decorated officers in the process.

The present paper will attempt to look at the concept of the ghetto in less specific and more abstract terms. Thus, the paper will be characterized by a use of the concept of the ghetto by moving up what Giovanni Sartori calls the ‘ladder of abstraction’. An upward movement in such a ladder of abstraction results in a diminishing of the ‘intension’ or explanatory powers of the concept of the ghetto in terms of its specificities, but the loss is offset by an increase in the ‘extension’ of the concept or in other words the ability of the concept to account for more cross comparative research at a more general and inclusive level. What such a movement up the ladder of abstraction to a more middle level of abstraction does then is to facilitate a consideration of the wider similarities in the concept of the ghetto cross comparatively in terms of space and time. The paper will thus look at how the concept of the ghetto has been transformed in various societies from the 1970s with its associated economic changes and the advent of the New Right.

Such an analysis of the ghetto allows one to appreciate the economic processes that have configured the ghetto. Thus following from Wacquant’s analysis again, it can be argued that the ‘state and the fate’ of the ghetto has been one of a transformation from being a ghetto to a ‘post-Fordist hyperghetto’. This has arisen, to reiterate as a result of the economic changes of the 1970s and the significant cutbacks in welfare expenditure that has made the situation of the hyperghetto that much worse.


Kamran Ali (Houston, Texas)

Short Bio

Progressives and “Perverts”: Partition Stories and Pakistan’s Future

The partition of British India was a catastrophic event. This paper looks at debates in the post-partition era Pakistan about the division of the country itself. In doing so, I will focus on the fiction writer, Sa’adat Hasan Manto (1912-1955) whose voice helps us rethink the moment in Pakistan’s history where contesting voices of uncertainty and confusion, against an emerging nationalist framework, discussed and debated what shape would Pakistan’s social, political and cultural life take in the ensuing years. This was not an easy task, the question faced by the various intellectuals and perhaps the state as well was how does one even think, write about or seek to build a future immediately after witnessing (and in many cases living through) a catastrophe or carnage like the killings, arson, disappearances, and rapes of the Partition.

The proliferation of writing on the partition was not unlike the philosophical introspections by European intellectuals after the two world wars during the first half of twentieth century. However, as the First World War produced images of universal destruction and messianic redemption, there World War II was an apocalyptic moment that was more anti redemptive. As in Europe after the two wars of the twentieth century, the violence of the mid-1940s in South Asia also created opportunities for writers and intellectuals to rethink past certainties and generate visions for a new future. The sense of destruction of shared values after experiencing an “apocalyptic” event may have led to imagining other possibilities in new surroundings and been partially responsible for the spate of literary writings that dealt with partition. Written from various ideological perspectives and personal experiences, post-partition literary debates argued for conceiving different future trajectories for the newly independent country.

Within this larger context, in Pakistan’s first decade of existence there were clear camps of intellectuals who had competing claims linked to various ideological positions that impressed upon the state and the populace about the legitimacy of one set of ideas over others. One group with a clear ideological perspective was the set of intellectuals closely aligned with the Communist Party of Pakistan (CPP). The CPP is remembered for its influence on the literary and intellectual debates of the era through its control of the All Pakistan Progressive Writers Association (APPWA). Its manifesto borrowed heavily from the reports and speeches of the first Soviet Writers Congress held in 1934 and also from the post-war critiques of Soviet writers by A. A. Zhadanov (the Secretary of the CPSU).


Ravi Ahuja (Göttingen)

Short Bio

The Similar Yields Divergence: Global Notions of 'Social Welfare' and the Making of 'informality' in Twentieth-Century India

I am interested to look at what I believe to be a period of labour-centred social regulation in India between the 1920s and 1970s, which took much of its rhetorics and regulatory devices from the arsenal provided by an international social policy trend, but had strongly diverging results in the Indian context (e.g. the separation between the "formal" and the "informal"). So here we have the similar generating dissimilarity, as it were.


Johannes Feichtinger (Wien)


Das Ähnliche und das Differente. Zentraleuropa und seine Identitätswissenschaften als Paradigma

Aufgrund massiver Migrationsprozesse im 19. Jahrhundert in den Städten Zentraleuropas, kamen unterschiedlichen Kulturen einander relativ nahe. Differenzen wurden somit offensichtlicher und vermittelbarer: Ähnlichkeiten dominierten zwar weiterhin unterschwellig die alltägliche Kooperation, durch Nähe und Nationalisierung wurden Differenzen aber stärker fühlbar und für Abgrenzung nutzbar.
Der Vortrag beschäftigt sich mit der Verarbeitung dieser Prozesse durch die so genannten Identitätswissenschaften.
Zwei unterschiedliche Positionen werden behandelt: Die politisch-beglaubigende, die der nationalistischen Vorstellung von Gleichheit („sameness“) oder Grundverschiedenheit Vorschub leistete und damit unüberwindbare Trennlinien zog; und die kritisch-reflexive, die sich den großen nationalen Trennungen durch Einsatz des Konzepts der Ähnlichkeiten und der überwindbaren Differenzen widersetzte. Davon zeugt u.a. das Werk von Ernst Mach, Hans Kelsen, Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Alois Riegl und Otto Neurath.


Rüdiger Görner (London)


Das Differente im Ähnlichen

Zu einem Modus ästhetischen Vergleichens   

Den ersten Ausgangspunkt dieser Überlegungen bildet der vierte Abschnitt der Vorrede zu Novalis’ Glauben und Liebe, der von der liebend gezeugten Ähnlichkeit spricht, was zu „poetischem Philosophieren“ führe.  Den zweiten Ausgangspunkt liefert August von Goethes Bemerkung in Thomas Manns Lotte in Weimar, Ähnlichkeit sei „keine Gleichheit der Einzelzüge, sondern die Schwesterlichkeit der Gesamterscheinung.“ Zu fragen sein wird inwiefern beides in Walter Benjamins These vom anthropologisch begründeten „Produzieren von Ähnlichkeiten“ aufgehoben scheint, welche ästhetische Bedeutung dabei dem Differenten im Ähnlichen zukommt, und ob sie mit Wittgensteins Verwendung von Ähnlichkeiten konkurriert oder dazu komplementär zu verstehen wäre.


Ulrike Kistner (Pretoria)

Short Bio

Work of Similarities – Work on Similarities

In this contribution, I would like to draw a distinction between the work of similarities which can be described ethnographically and psychoanalytically, and work on similarities, which entails an anthropological-critical task, in order then to articulate the conflictual relationship between these types of work in processes of translation of a certain kind.


Andreas Langenohl (Gießen)

Short Bio

Tracing Scenes Of Voting – A Place for Similarities?

In postcolonial theory, similarity is most prominently associated with Bhabha's argument about colonial mimicry, according to which a too great degree of similarity between the colonizers and the colonized, even if touted as a triumph of the colonizers' civilizing mission, poses a symbolic threat to the metropolis's claims to superiority. What, however, becomes of the “mimic men” and their menacing similarity under conditions of formally democratic rule?

The paper addresses this question from the point of view of a cultural reconstruction of the practice of voting as one of the most ubiquitous practices not only in formal political procedures but also in a diverse range of practices such as polls conducted in the press and on TV as well as in online settings inviting "having one's say" in regard to commodities, services, or political issues and representatives. It argues that practices of voting shuttle between the production and dissemination of numerical and cultural figures, and therefore can be conceptualized as "scenes of voting." Those scenes can be conceptually outlined through a discussion of political-theoretical works by Hannah Arendt, Claude Lefort and Marcel Gauchet. The main argument taken from this discussion is that there is a discontinuity between the practice of voting on the one hand, and the political or cultural representation of the numerical figures resulting from a vote on the other hand: the act of voting disaggregates every political or cultural representation of the political structure of society into the singularities informing each particular vote, thus crossing out any idea of a "trivial" connection between the practice of voting and an election's numerical results.

The theoretical discussion is followed by a case vignette which demonstrates the ubiquitous dissemination of scenes of voting after the Swiss national referendum on the ban on the construction of minarets in 2009, which was followed by a swift replication of the referendum scene in other contexts (for instance, diverse polls in German papers) and beyond its political applicability. In a theoretical reprise, the question is addressed of how the concept of "similarity" might not get lost in the chasm between the multiplicity, or "multitude," of voters and the political/cultural figures into which a vote's numerical results are assembled.


Peter Pál Pelbart (São Paulo)

Short Bio

De la folie européenne à l´antropophagie amérindienne : déplacements dans l´image de la pensée

Quand on accompagne l´histoire foucauldienne sur la folie, centrée sur le partage et l´exclusion historique, c´est évident qu´elle obéit encore à une certaine dialectique entre le Même et l´Autre, qui par la suite fera école dans des champs divers, de façon parfois problématique. Or, d´autres approches ont misé sur des processus de schizophrénisation qui traversent le socius comme un tout – c´est le cas, notamment, de Deleuze et Guattari, et leurs notions de devenir ou déterritorialisation dont ils ont eu besoin pour saisir la processualité en jeu dans la question de la folie.

Si l´on remonte aux sources plus philosophiques de l´approche deleuzéen, vers Bergson, Tarde ou Nietzsche, ou même Leibniz, on se retrouve face à un jeu plus multiple et continu, nuancé et hybride, intensif et souple – qui dérive, en dernière analyse, d´une conception non dichotomique ou polaire de la différence. Mais pour vérifier l´efficacité d´une telle approche processuelle dans un champ actuel concret, il faudrait reprendre les études d´Eduardo Viveiros de Castro sur le perspectivisme amérindien et la logique anthropophagique, qui inversent complètement les données du problème de l´alterité, sur fonds d´un multinaturalisme animiste – et par conséquent, redessinent le rapport différence/similarité.

Or, tout cela, associé à d´autres contributions récentes de la pensée politique, de Lazzarato à Agamben, nous aideraient à relire certains phénomènes contemporains qui traversent la planète moins en fonction de différences données et leurs polarités (entre cultures, civilisations, blocs ethniques) qu´en termes de processus parallèles, de déssubjectivation et subjectivation individuelles et collectives, de devenirs cosmopolitiques, y compris dans des directions macropolitiques (tel G. Cocco, avec la notion de devenir-Brésil du monde). De l´histoire de la folie à l´anthropologie contemporaine, en passant par des reélaborations conceptuelles précises, c´est toute une image de la pensée qui se met en question, permettant un dialogue actif avec le problème conceptuel et culturel posé par le colloque.


Naoki Sakai (Cornell)

Short Bio

The Locale of Comparison and Transnationality: towards Comparative Humanities

In order to discuss similarity, one must first presume an act of comparison. Similarity is not a property attributable to an individual entity; only when it is compared and put in a relation to another entity, does similarity acquire intelligibility. Therefore, the primary context in which similarity is addressed is that of comparison. A question that I would like to pursue in my paper is about a form of study which one might call “Comparative Humanities.”
Two moments - one logical and the other political - can be discerned in the act of comparison in the Humanities.

The first is the postulation of the class of genus among compared items. Comparison is performed between or among individuals identified as species while comparison is conducted and constitutive of the logical dimension of genus where species difference is discovered, measured, or judged. Attributed to the class of species are particular cultures, languages, economic systems, political ideologies, and so forth, each of which is postulated as an indivisible unit (individual) and as a particular (species) example of the general class (genus). Thus, we compare the English language with the German language, for instance. Insofar as English is assumed to be a systematicity, it is an individual, but as one of many languages, it is a particular species of the general genus of language.

The second moment is the occasion or locale where we are obliged to compare. Comparison takes place because the determination of species difference is needed. For instance, language difference causes a situation where we need to know why we are at a loss with one another. It is also possible to imagine another situation where we need to know how we are different from one another, why certain people are not subjugated to one’s ethical norms, why some of us are free from a set of proscriptions while others are not. It is, of course, possible to imagine yet another situation where we need to assure ourselves of the similarity that we share. Thus, we compare ourselves to find where we are situated vis-à-vis one another. Comparison is indispensable precisely because we want to know how we are related to one another and how we can understand one another, but also because we want to figure out who is better among us, who should follow whom among us, who should work for whom among us, and so on. It is through the act of comparison that we comprehend the configuration of our positions in which we apprehend our identities in terms of gender, race, social class, nationality, civilization, religion, culture, professional qualifications and so forth.

As a result of and posterior to comparison, difference can be postulated as conforming to the economy of the classical logic of species and genus. Before comparison, however, difference is literarily beyond comparison, so that it cannot be regulated by the complimentary relationship of difference and similarity. Neither individuality nor exemplarity can be ascribed to this prior difference before the act of comparison. It is through the act of comparison that difference enters the configuration of logical economy. I want to explore further the implications of the act of comparison.

The range of objects of comparison in the Humanities is wide. In this paper, therefore, I will focus on the types of compared objects: culture, nationality and civilization. What will be undertaken is an examination of how the second moment of political maneuver predetermines the scope of deployment for the first moment of logical categorization. Particular attention is paid to identity politics in Comparative Humanities because the comparative aspect of identity politics is often erased, despite the uncontestable fact that the process of identification is premised upon comparative operations.

I will also examine the ambiguous concept of the individual in relation to the logical economy of the species and the genus. When it is in conjunction with personality and subjectivity, the term ‘individual’ manifests a conceptual instability; it is regulated by the economy of specification at the same time that it remains absolutely beyond (incommensurate with) the species. I would like to introduce this conceptual ambiguity of the individual into my understanding of the locale of comparison, a sort of place or basho where we are articulated to one another in a three-fold registers as individuals, as collectivities, and as objects to compare.


Johan Strijdom (Pretoria)

Short Bio

"Similarity" as critical concept in the comparative study of religions

In this paper I will offer an historical and systematic analysis of theories and uses of "similarity" as a critical concept in the comparative study of religions. I will engage primarily with JZ Smith and David Chidester's contributions to and assessments of this academic tradition, and illustrate my argument by problematizing the contemporary resurgence of indigenous discourses and practices in a heterogeneous world.


Levent Tezcan (Tilburg, Niederlande)


Ähnlichkeit und Welterfahrung – anders als die ‚Einheit in Verschiedenheit‘

„Welt als Ganzes“, dies scheint für unsere zeitgenössische Welterfahrung unhintergehbar zu sein. Die Richtung der Deutungen kann dabei erheblich variieren. Die einst so mächtige universalistische Weltdeutung, wonach alle kulturellen Differenzen in einem gerichteten Modernisierungsprozess aufgehoben würden, ist inzwischen von einem anderen, nicht weniger folgenreichen Projekt abgelöst worden. Nunmehr verbeugen wir uns überall vor der Übermacht der kulturellen Differenz, die scheinbar nur noch im Dialog friedlich bearbeitet werden könne, wenn dem drohenden Konflikt dauerhaft Einhalt geboten werden solle. An diese Dialektik von Konflikt und Dialog hängen sich große Projekte nahezu umstandslos. Ob es um Strategien der Geopolitik geht, die die Teilung der Welt nach Einflusssphären entlang Kulturgrenzen (praktisch längs der Religionen) vornimmt, oder um nationale Integrationspolitiken, die ihre ohnehin abgeschwächten wohlfahrtstaatlichen Programme gegen eine Integration via Kultur respektive Religion eintauschen, überall fällt der Konnex zwischen kultureller Differenz einerseits und Regierbarmachen bzw. Ordnungspolitik andererseits auf.

Die arabische Revolution hatte augenblicklich eine Irritation ausgelöst, die nicht in derartigen großen Kultur-Konzepten bearbeitet werden konnte, bevor sie wieder ‚erfolgreich‘ in eine Debatte über die Kompatibilität des Islam mit der Moderne („Islam und Demokratie schließen sich nicht aus!“) integriert wurde. Im vorliegenden Vortrag geht es um die Frage, inwiefern die in der arabischen Revolution angekündigte, aber auch in den Migrationskontexten stets präsente, jedoch in den Integrationsdiskursen verdrängte Welterfahrung mit dem Konzept der Ähnlichkeit erfasst werden kann.