The Ernest Gellner Lecture 2021: Nationalism and the Crisis of Global Modernity

The Ernest Gellner Lecture 2021: Nationalism and the Crisis of Global Modernity

The Ernest Gellner Lecture 2021 will be given by Prof. Prasenjit Duara on ‘Nationalism and the Crisis of Global Modernity’ on 5th April 2021 at 1100EST/1500UTC/1600 London (check this time in your city). It will be livestreamed on Facebook and YouTube; members and conference pass holders will also be able to join in on Zoom.


“Whether or not there is a direct causal relationship, nationalism is at the heart of all the crises in the modern world and becomes entangled in its effects. As the fundamental source of authority for all modes of governance in the world, we are beholden to its capacity to resolve these cascading crises. I have long argued that its core confessional and anarchic constitutive form does not afford this capaciousness. It is plain to see this in how the WHO is being hampered in the present pandemic by powerful national interests.

“I argue that the nation form is the ‘epistemic engine’ driving the globally circulatory and doxic Enlightenment ideal of the conquest of nature and perpetual growth that sustains the runaway technosphere. The cascading crises that we have already witnessed in this century – financial, economic, epidemic and climatological—are rooted significantly in this technosphere. At the same time, we will have to find our way through and out of these forms to secure a sustainable planet. Drawing from a paradigm of ‘oceanic temporality’ to grasp counter-finalities generated by the epistemic engine I explore the interstitial spaces and counter-flows of social movements that are seeking to develop a post-Enlightenment and a planetary, rather than a global, cosmology.”

About Prasenjit Duara

Prasenjit Duara is the Oscar Tang Chair of East Asian Studies at Duke University. He was born and educated in India and received his PhD in Chinese history from Harvard University. He was previously Professor and Chair of the Dept of History and Chair of the Committee on Chinese Studies at the University of Chicago (1991-2008). Subsequently, he became Raffles Professor of Humanities and Director, Asia Research Institute at National University of Singapore (2008-2015).

In 1988, he published Culture, Power and the State: Rural North China, 1900-1942 (Stanford Univ Press) which won the Fairbank Prize of the AHA and the Levenson Prize of the AAS, USA. Among his other books are Rescuing History from the Nation (U Chicago 1995), Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern (Rowman 2003) and most recently, The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future (Cambridge 2014). He has edited Decolonization: Now and Then (Routledge, 2004) and co-edited A Companion to Global Historical Thought with Viren Murthy and Andrew Sartori (John Wiley, 2014). His work has been widely translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and the European languages.

About the Ernest Gellner Lecture

The Ernest Gellner Lecture was established in 1996 to commemorate his enormous contributions to the field of nationalism studies and is sponsored by Nations and Nationalism. It traditionally takes place on the eve of the ASEN Conference.