Abstracts W

Rinaldo Walcott Against Multiculturalism: Thoughts on Decoloniality, Social Justice and Radical Collectivities

This paper begins against multiculturalism and proceeds to argue that it time is past. The paper then turns to debates concerning the decolonial project and social justice which presently occupy a certain unthoughtfulness that needs to be thought. By this, I mean to place both decoloniality and social justice in conversation with multiculturalism with the aim of generating a call for thinking a radical new collective imaginary. Indeed, the question that bears down on multiculturalism, decoloniality and social justice ideas, discourses and even practices is - what kinds of futures might constitute their ultimate trajectory? This paper thus probes and also risks the problem of articulating and imagining a radical collectivity-yet-to-come. It seeks to insert the following question into the debate - what kinds of politics might be required in the present so that other kinds of futures might be glimpsed. In this moment it sometimes seems impossible to think and act in the present in ways that might produce different futures, but I would argue that our inability to risk such acts leaves us lodged in the late modern capitalist futile renovations of the culture, state and nation with no apparent horizons of possibility.

Rinaldo Walcott is an Associate Professor and Director of Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto. Rinaldo is the author of Black Like Who: Writing Black Canada (Insomniac Press, 1997 with a second revised edition in 2003); he is also the editor of Rude: Contemporary Black Canadian Cultural Criticism (Insomniac, 2000). As well Rinaldo is the Co-editor with Roy Moodley of Counselling Across and Beyond Cultures: Exploring the Work of Clemment Vontress in Clinical Practice (University of Toronto Press, 2010). Black Diaspora Faggotry: Frames Readings Limits is forthcoming from Duke University Press. Rinaldo’s research is centered in Black diaspora politics, gender and sexuality, and decolonial politics. He is also a Research Fellow of the Broadbent Institute.

Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto

Nathan Widder, State Philosophy and the War Machine

This paper will put together political philosophy into conversation with Deleuze and Guattari’s war machine thesis along four axes: a shared understanding of political structure as an assemblage of desire; competing understandings of dialectical and non-dialectical becoming; how moments of semblance in the unfolding of Hegelian right offer points where the war machine can emerge from within State structures and finality; Hegel’s civil servant as the mediating figure within the State in the war machine. In establishing the exchange, I hope to demonstrate how Hegel’s and Deleuze and Guattai’s accounts present comparable structures and ambiguities, but with very different priorities surrounding them. While Hegel aims to contain the excessive contingencies and multivalent desires that mark the ideals of his State’s Ethical Life, Deleuze and Guattari seek to use them to problematize the State’s purported rationality, and whereas Hegel’s political philosophy culminates with Ethical Life as the highpoint and precondition of politics, Deleuze and Guattari show that these same arrangements find their precondition in a fundamental exteriority. Recent scholarship on Deleuze and Hegel has moved beyond the simplistic viewpoint that Deleuze’s philosophy of difference has no real relation to Hegel’s dialectical thought, and has demonstrated clearly how Deleuze has significant affinities with Hegel even while breaking sharply with him, and, indeed, how Deleuze’s and Hegel’s projects share many philosophical aspirations. With respect to their political thought, I hope to show that the relation between Hegel and Deleuze and Guattari is that of a disjunctive synthesis, wherein they are intimately intertwined but incapable of full and final resolution. The stark antithesis to Hegel often appearing in Deleuze’s and Deleuze and Guattari’s rhetoric must be understood in light of a much more complex and subtle connexion.

Nathan Widder is Professor of Political Theory at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is author of Genealogies of Difference (University of Illinois Press, 2002), Reflections on Time and Politics (Penn State University Press, 2008) and Political Theory after Deleuze (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2012). He is currently working on a book length study of Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense and its place in Deleuze’s larger philosophy


James Williams, Pluralism and the sign in Deleuze and Guattari

This talk will explore the idea that, together and apart, Deleuze and Guattari give us a diagram for a pluralistic sign. This plural sign as process also works as one way of approaching political pluralism. The talk will cover the sign in early Deleuze texts then in the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia with Guattari. A range of definitions of the plural sign will be considered and it will be argued that Deleuze and Guattari point towards the most radical version of the sign as multiplicity of processes resistant to representation and to sufficient formalism. The argument will be made that the plural sign is essentially political through a requirement for selection and variation in intensity of values. This requirement will then be considered in relation to different types of political action and valuation, and contemporary and historical political signs.

James Williams teaches philosophy at the University of Dundee. His recent work on Deleuze includes Gilles Deleuze's Philosophy of Time: a Critical Introduction and Guide and a new and extended edition of his Gilles Deleuze's Difference and Repetition: a Critical Introduction and Guide (both with Edinburgh University Press). His current work is on the process philosophy of signs, with a forthcoming book A Process Philosophy of Signs due out in 2016, also with EUP.