April 26, 2007 – Ghassan Hage: “Cultures of Exterminability”

Thursday, April 26 / 4 PM / Humanities 210

E´tienne Balibar has argued that in both Arendt’s analysis of the Nazi extermination of Jews and Foucault’s work on the extermination of the abnormals there is an argument that before a society engages in extermination it goes through a social state where those who are to be exterminated are, in effect, prepared for their extermination. Ghassan Hage calls this social state a culture of exterminability. He writes:

This is because I want to emphasize the production of a total social environment and climate in which the pratice of extermination becomes something that can be practically contemplated: society cannot produce its potential exterminable others without producing at the same time its potential exterminators. I will argue that we in the Western world are already living in such a culture of exterminability where the exterminable is located in the dominant imaginary of the Muslim other.

Ghassan Hage is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Sydney. He has been a visiting professor at the American University of Beirut, University of Copenhagen, Université de Paris X –Nanterre, and at Pierre Bourdieu’s Centre de Sociologie Européenne at the École des Hautes Études Internationales, Paris. He is currently visiting professor and research associate at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard. Hage’s research centers on the comparative study of nationalism, racism, and multiculturalism. His most important works in that domain are White Nation (Pluto and Routledge, 2000) and Against Paranoid Nationalism (Pluto and Merlin, 2003). He has also published widely on the Lebanese civil war and on the Lebanese diaspora. He is currently working on an ethnography of Lebanese Muslims in France, England, the U.S., and Australia.