Accepted paper:

'Once was Blind but now can See': Modernity and the Social Sciences

Authors:

Sanjay Seth (Goldsmiths)

Paper short abstract:

This paper asks, how and why is it that we assume that modern knowledge is universal, despite its European genealogy and its historically recent provenance? What warrant do we have for considering this superior to the pre-modern knowledges of the West, and the autochthonous knowledges of the non-West?

Paper long abstract:

This paper asks a series of very direct, if not simple, questions. How and why is it that we assume that modern knowledge is universal, despite its European genealogy and its historically recent provenance? What warrant do we have for considering this superior to the pre-modern knowledges of the West, and the autochthonous knowledges of the non-West? Are we, in short, right to assume that modern Western knowledge transcends the circumstances of its historical and geographical emergence and thus that the social sciences are 'true' for everyone- even though to do so is to privilege the modern and the western, over the pre-modern and the non-Western? In addressing these questions this essay highlights the exclusions- of gods and spirits, and of nature- that have gone into the constitution of the concept of 'the social', a taken-for-granted object which provides the ground and the subject matter for the social sciences.

panel G55
World Anthropologies Today