SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

The Invention of the Savage: Philosophy, Politics and the Ideologies of Development

Dr Alberto Toscano (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Date: 16 October 2018Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 16 October 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: DLT

Type of Event: Seminar

Development has all too often set up a cordon sanitaire around itself, fending off discomfiting reminders of its entanglements with the ideologies and practices of colonialism and empire. In recent years the centrality of racial paradigms and colonial histories to the formation of mainstream development has garnered greater, if still insufficient recognition, though often in the mode of liberal correctives rather than more radical interrogations. In the context of calls for decolonisation, this talk focuses on the history of philosophy and social thought that emerged in the context of decolonization, and reflects on the construction of the ‘savage’ in the the emergence of modern, capitalist conceptions of development and civilisational ‘progress’. We particularly explore the shift from the savage as the ‘other’ and at times the critic of a normative conception of state-based politics to its place as the lowest rung in a progressive sequence of modes of production and appropriation.


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The Invention of the Savage: Philosophy, Politics and the Ideologies of Development


Alberto Toscano is Reader in Critical Theory and Co-Director of the Centre for Philosophy and Critical Theory at Goldsmiths, University of London. His books include: The Theatre of Production: Philosophy and Individuation Between Kant and Deleuze (2006), Fanaticism: On the Uses of an Idea (2010), and (with Jeff Kinkle) Cartographies of the Absolute (2015). He edited The Italian Difference: Between Nihilism and Biopolitics with Lorenzo Chiesa, and has translated several works by Alain Badiou, as well as Antonio Negri, Furio Jesi and Franco Fortini. He is currently working on two book projects, the first on tragedy as a political form, the second on philosophy, capitalism and ‘real abstraction’. He has sat on the editorial board Historical Materialism since 2004, and is series editor of The Italian List for Seagull Books.

Organiser: Dr Feyzi Ismail

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