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CfH Lectures


This lecture critically reviews the framing of the so-called ‘new wars’ in the global South as uncivil, barbaric, excessive, local and sexual through describing the shifts in framing and the construction of new dichotomies, as well as conceptualising their functionality. Discourses on rape figure as powerful metaphors in the new wars frame. What is argued for in the particular case of Africa is that discourses on the ‘evil African male’ as the source of war, insecurity, fragility and poverty serve two functions. First, they offer a solution to the crisis of neoliberalism as political project by placing the blame for the failure of neoliberal restructuring at the level of the evil, and above all, greedy, local. Second, they legitimize new technologies of containment, resulting from the transformation of parts of the global South from a series of ‘strategic states’ at the time of the Cold war into a ‘dangerous social body’ of the War on Terror era. This paper thus aims to contextualize the prominence of discourses on war-time rape as functional to furthering the hegemony of neoliberalism by the ways in which they reinforce fantasies of local actors in war as greedy and evil.

This lecture was given within the framework of the 2012 School of Critical Theory organized by the Centre for the Humanities in Utrecht. The programme was titled ‘Risk Societies and Cosmopolitanism’, and offered trans-national and interdisciplinary approaches drawn from the humanities, social sciences, law, philosophy and international relations. Its focus on the development of cross-national European perspectives in these areas, allows for the innovative use of key notions of cosmopolitanism across different national, cultural and disciplinary traditions. The school consisted of three clusters, which focused on Cosmopolitanism and risk society, Cosmopolitanism and the social responsibility, and Cosmopolitanism and the civic duty of Digital Media.