Cornell University

Our Future is Another’s Past: A Conversation

Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 5:30pm

Toboggan Lodge 38 Forest Home Drive

New Conversations Series:

Siba N’Zatioula Grovogui is Professor of International Relations and Political Theory at Africana Studies, Cornell University. He is originally from Guinea, where he attended Law School before serving as law clerk, judge, and legal counsel for the National Commission on Trade, Agreements, and Protocols in Guinea. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1988. Prior to joining Cornell University's Africana Studies, Grovogui was professor of international relations theory and law at The Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Sovereigns, Quasi-Sovereigns, and Africans: Race and Self-determination in International Law (University of Minnesota Press, 1996) and Beyond Eurocentrism and Anarchy: Memories of International Institutions and Order (Palgrave, April 2006). Grovogui is currently completing two manuscripts under of the rubric of Future Anterior: 1) International Relations: Genealogy of the Present, A History of the Future and 2) The First Republic: Palmares, Haiti and the Question of the Human.

Future Anterior is the rubric under which I propose to reflect on a number of dimensions of the collective present. Its title suggests an orientation toward the future, a future whose conditions of possibility include two things. The first is the collective ability to adequately respond to a seeming global crises of society, culture, economy, and politics. The second is to develop new imaginaries of moral orders and legitimacy for a future different from the past and the present. Similar tasks had been the ambition of the humanities and social sciences since the Renaissance. Related disciplines had generated modes of inquiries, canonical references, and monumental archives as well as modes of rhetoricity and argumentation that seem to have exhausted themselves. In many cases, as illustrated by International Relations, the disciplines in their present configurations no longer seem to adequately grasp the contours and properties of its object: global politics. The response to the crisis of the discipline itself has been multiple. I include myself among those who think that the discipline itself is in need of refoundation to reflect postcolonial realities: the demise of empire, the faltering of its regimes of morality and authority, the rise of new conceptions of order and socio-political imaginaries – in short global contestation over what it means to live, to be free, and to self-determine. My next contributions to the related debates are in the form of two book projects: 1) International Relations: A Genealogy of the Present and A History of the Future and 2) The First Republic: Palmares, Haiti and the Question of the Human. I propose the introductory chapter of “Genealogy of the Present’ as context for a conversation with designated colleagues about both the chapter and the larger projects.


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Catherine Clepper

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Siba N’Zatioula Grovogui

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Cornell University

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