February 14-15, 2002 – Sven Lindqvist: Lecture & Seminar

“Bombing the Savages in International Law and Military Practice” 
Thursday, February 14
4:00 PM
Baytree Conference Room D


On a History of Bombing (New Press, 2000)
Friday, February 15
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Oakes Mural Room


Seminar participants should read excerpts from the book, available on request from the Center. The Center has a few copies of the book available for graduate students who will attend the seminar. The book can also be purchased at a discount at the Bay Tree Bookstore.

The author of over a dozen books, translated from Swedish into many lan-guages, Lindqvist began his scholarly life as a China scholar, publishing several books out of his years in China in the early 1960s, and followed this with books on Latin America. Radical popular historians know him for his 1978 manual and manifesto Gräv där du står: hur man utforskar ett jobb (Dig Where You Stand: How to Research a Job), a book on the Swedish cement industry that was intended to empower workers through a demonstration of research techniques into that most occluded area of inquiry: one’s own workplace. Two linked books—Desert Divers (English translation by New Press, 2000) and “Exterminate All the Brutes”: One Man’s Odyssey Into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide (New Press, 1996)—are simultaneously accounts of Lindqvist’s travels through the Sahara into sub-Saharan Africa and histories of the repressed origins of European genocide. European racism was also Lindqvist’s focus in The Skull Measurer’s Mistake, and Other Portraits of Men and Women Who Spoke Out Against Racism (New Press, 1995). After reading Lindqvist’s account of now forgotten antiracists like Thomas Winterbottom and Friedrich Tiedemann, early nineteenth century scientists who carefully and thoroughly debunked “scientific” claims for the inferiority of nonwhites, it is difficult to claim that Euro-American racist ideology was simply the only option for nineteenth
century thinkers.

Sven Lindqvist’s visit this winter will center on the research that has produced, among other pieces, A History of Bombing, a critically acclaimed book that has particular relevance to the current situation. We learn there of the first bombs to fall in Afghanistan—over eighty years ago—and the economic and political justifications for European and American domination by air. Drawing on science-fiction narratives, historical archives, military histories, museum exhibits, and constructed as a labyrinth of a hauntingly written text through which there are a number of history-estranging paths for the reader, A History of Bombing is a chilling exposé of a hidden past and present.

Professor Lindqvist’s visit is co-sponsored by the Adhoc Faculty Committee on Current Events and by the Humanities Research Institute in Irvine, CA.