Declarations of Friendship: Nonviolence and the Concept of the Political in the Middle East

Date: Thursday, October 6, 2016

Time: 4:10 pm - 6:00 pm

Location: 457 Schermerhorn Extension

The resumption of warfare between the Turkish state and the pro-Kurdish PKK has led, again, to calls for ceasefire and nonviolent resolutions to entrenched political problems. What ethical imaginaries underlie these calls for nonviolence? In what ways are the ethical horizons developed in these calls concordant with or discomfiting for a liberal understanding of human rights? Stanford University's Kabir Tambar builds on scholarship that has critiqued the anti-political effects of liberalism, but questions whether that critique suffices for understanding the demands of nonviolence today. The lecture will focus on the role of what Tambar terms "declarations of friendship," efforts by populations who are targeted as enemies of the state to proclaim their historical fidelity to the state's foundation and preservation. While such declarations of friendship re-inscribe the rigid and often violently statist narrative of politics, Tambar will examine how their mode of address also enables creative and novel ethical possibilities.

Kabir Tambar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University.  

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This event is co-sponsored by the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life; the Department of Anthropology; the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies; and the Middle East Institute at Columbia University.