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Working Group on Iberoamerican Imperial Histories - Fall 2012

            The goal of this working group is to foster an ongoing conversation among faculty and graduate students in Hispanic Literatures and Portuguese concerning innovative ways of thinking about power relations and their histories in the Iberoamerican (Hispanic and Lusophone) worlds. The group seeks to identify and discuss novel approaches to empire and its critique in post-colonialism, subaltern studies, world-systems theory, deconstruction, and so on. While some of these critical perspectives already have well-established connections within the Hispanic and Lusophone contexts (post-colonial and subaltern studies), the group is also committed to examining perspectives and approaches taken from other contexts in order to gauge their relevance for the Spanish and Portuguese experiences. Possible examples include Wallerstein’s world-systems theory, Spengler’s and Freud’s critical discussions of “civilization,” Heidegger’s critical genealogy of imperium, and Foucault’s work on biopolitics.
            The working group aims to support innovative research among the department’s literature faculty and graduate students by creating a public forum for sharing ideas and working through challenging theoretical texts that have special relevance for Iberoamerican Studies. The group is open to any and all Hispanic Literatures faculty and graduate students, regardless of specific areas of research interest and expertise. Its primary activities will include a biweekly reading group as well as occasional invited speakers and conferences and colloquia. Readings will be determined at the beginning of each semester and will be organized, whenever possible, to coincide with visiting lectures and meetings.
            The theme of this semester is the two-fold genealogy of today´s global Empire. On the one hand, it corresponds to the history of capitalism and the different (Genoese, Spanish, Dutch, British, American) imperial structures that have accompanied the unfolding of our economic system. And, on the other hand, it relates to the different political orders of the modern world (or to put it in Carl Schmitt’s terms, the different “nomoi of the Earth”) and how they have produced the so-called new global order.

            To discuss the first genealogy, we will read parts of Giovanni Arrighi’s classic study The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of our Times. Carlo Galli’s exciting new book on Global War will then allow us to explore the political coordinates that structure our present. While Arrighi talks about today’s global economic crisis, Galli refers to global political war. So here we have a possible title for our semester´s reading: “Between Global Crisis and Global War.”

  The group will meet on Fridays from 11AM to 12:30PM, location TBA. These are the specific readings and dates for Fall 2012:

August 31 – Arrighi: Introduction - Hegemony, Capitalism, and Territorialism (1-37)

September 14 - Arrighi: The Origins of the Modern Interstate System - Towards a New Research Agenda (37-85)

October 5 - Arrighi: The Dynamics of Global Crisis & Postscript (309-35; 371-86)

October 26 - Carlo Galli - Global War (first part)

November 16  - Galli - Global War (second part)

We hope that you can join us in this energizing adventure!

Edgar Illas and Patrick Dove

  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me ( or Patrick Dove (

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