News & Events

Faculty Seminar | What is Western About Western thought ?


Conference Hall, Ground Floor, Training Centre (Closed-doors event)


Wednesday, November 15, 2023, 4:00 pm

We are excited to welcome Prof. Sudipta Kaviraj to the NLS campus during the second and third week of November. Prof. Kaviraj is Professor of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies in Columbia University, and Distinguished Visiting Faculty at NLS.

Prof. Kaviraj is visiting NLS from November 14 to 22 during which he will be engaged in a number of activities, including our next faculty seminar on campus.

On November 15, 2023, he will present his paper titled “What is Western About Western thought?”. Our faculty member Dr. Karthick Ram Manoharan will moderate the discussion.


The question at the centre of this paper is part of a larger debate. Though the more limited question is hardly ever asked in academic discussions, the larger question – how can knowledge – or more broadly and less helpfully- thought in the world outside the West can be decolonized is at the center of lively debates surrounding the ‘end’ of postcolonial theory. Even this question can be asked in two significantly separate forms: about decolonizing knowledge in these societies; or, alternative, knowledge about these societies, which would presumably include knowledge produced in the Western academia about these societies. The two propositions make a lot of difference. This essay, therefore, deals with that larger question of the humanistic and the historical sciences indirectly, because I believe that without becoming clear about this smaller question – what is Western about Western thought? – which might strike people as odd, we cannot make much progress. Indeed, my claim is that so much of uncertainty still attaches to the first discussion – whether we are making any progress at all or not – is precisely because the second question is not seen with clarity as being a precondition to making progress in the first.