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Masterclass Series – The Idea of Alternative Modernities

Join the Institute for Social Justice for 4 days of conversation on the moral challenge of an entrenched mainstream western modernity.

When: 8 – 9 and 12 – 13 December 2016, 10 – 1pm and 2 – 5pm

Where: Level 2, 7 Mount Street, North Sydney

Lecturers: Professor Akeel Bilgrami, Professor Nikolas Kompridis, Professor Rajeev Bhargava



The idea of alternative modernities usefully challenges the widespread view that modernity is uniquely and distinctively western, arising around a set of values such as freedom or equality radically different in form and meaning from values available to humanity in the past. It suggests that there are multiple modernities – Asian, Latin American, other non-western, and even other marginalized European modernities – which can offer a moral challenge to an entrenched, mainstream western modernity. Rajeev Bhargav will explore the idea of alternative modernities with reference to Indian religions and secularisms, and to discussions of axiality, in particular, an axial moment in the history of the Indian sub-continent. Akeel Bilgrami will explore whether it make sense to say today that there is a distinct perspective of the South?  If so, what conceptual links does it have with dissenting voices in the political and intellectual outlooks of the North —ranging from Marxism and before to post-structuralism and after? Taking this one step further, Nikolas Kompridis will explore the question of whether romanticism represents an alternative (possible) modernity within the west, whose possibilities have been marginalized and misunderstood.

Join our conversation



8 December

11 -12pm: Introduction

2 – 5pm: Recasting Political Ideals:  A Perspective from the South (Akeel Bilgrami)

9 December

10 – 1pm: Recasting Political Ideals:  A Perspective from the South (Akeel Bilgrami)

2 – 5pm: Romanticism: Alternative Modernity (Nikolas Kompridis)

12 December

10 – 1pm: Romanticism: Alternative Modernity (Nikolas Kompridis)

2 – 5pm: Axiality, Alternative Modernities and Indian Secularism (Rajeev Bhargava)

13 December

10 – 1pm: Axiality, Alternative Modernities and Indian Secularism (Rajeev Bhargava)

2 – 5pm: Reflections (Bilgrami, Bhargava, Kompridis)


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