An Editorial Note
Destiny's Child: Obama and Election '08
"Destiny’s Child: Obama and Election ’08" interrogates the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States as a historically ordained event. This essay not only addresses the question of whether we might plausibly read it as the fulfillment of telos but also examines the implications of our having already done so.
Pease, D. E.
Obama constructs links among signs of history to produce what I would call a punctual presidency, a presidency that is punctual in two senses: Obama works at the level of historical puncta, and he’s just in time. He is a figure who knows how to work with an evental logic of history, and how to transpose the evental logics of history into a means whereby change within the territory of the United States can be linked with transnational democratic possibilities. By impersonating a transnational institution that does not exist anywhere else on this planet, Obama has as one of his aspirations the desire to become the institution of transnational democracy that otherwise has not materialized.
Mufti, A. R.
The introduction to this dossier situates the concept of world literature as potentially challenging and intellectually productive, on the one hand, and susceptible to easy commodification, on the other. It argues for an incontrovertible link between the Orientalist philological revolution and the emergence of world literature, and situates a number of studies in the dossier as concerned with this link. Finally, it presents Erich Auerbach and Edward Said as contributors to a potential radicalization of the philology of world literature, replacing its organicist-nationalist assumptions with exilic ones.
Premsagar (1810) and Orientalist Narratives of the "Invention" of Modern Hindi
Bhatnagar, R. D.
What exactly was invented when the language department of Bhakka was formally instituted at Fort William College in 1801 and Lallu Jee Lal was selected as the first Braj Bhakka scholar? Hindi polemicists celebrate Pundit Lallu Jee Lal’s invention of a Hindi purified of Yavani Bhasa, or Perso-Arabic words, in Premsagar. Contrarily, Urdu-centric scholars stress Lal’s use of the phrase "ibtada-e dastan" (the beginning of the Dastan) to open Baital Pachisi. The claim is that preoccupation with Lallu Jee Lal’s place in the Hindi and Urdu literary canon occludes the all-important question: What were pre-Orientalist conceptions of the vernacular that Lallu Jee Lal brought to his translation of the Bhagvata Purana in Premsagar? Pre-Orientalist conceptions of the vernacular often did not denote, in the first and primary sense, a specific language. Poets were concerned with bodying forth a structure of feeling and a spatiotemporal imaginary first, and cathecting language name to the signified of language much afterward. Thus we can more usefully read Premsagar’s Hindi as a site of language invention where radically different concepts of the vernacular remain in uneasy tension. Under the explicit guidance of John Borthwick Gilchrist, the Hindi vernacular was shaped through linguistic pogroms. At the same time, Lallu Jee Lal’s training in Braj Bhasa, as well as his intimate knowledge of the long history of Braj-Sanskrit and Braj-Urdu interactions, came into play in fashioning Premsagar’s Hindi as a language articulated in its spatiotemporal imaginary.
The "Indian" Monotheism
This essay is a wide-ranging inquiry into an early