Changing Theory : Concepts from the Global South book cover
1st Edition

Changing Theory
Concepts from the Global South

Edited By

Dilip M. Menon

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after May 3, 2022
ISBN 9781032226477
May 3, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge India
298 Pages 14 Color Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

This book is an original, systematic, and radical attempt at decolonizing critical theory. Drawing on linguistic concepts from sixteen languages from Asia, Africa, the Arab world, and South America, the essays in the volume explore the entailments of words while discussing their conceptual implications for the humanities and the social sciences everywhere. The essays engage in the work of thinking through words to generate a conceptual vocabulary that will allow for a global conversation on social theory that will be necessarily multilingual.

With essays by scholars, across generations, and from a variety of disciplines — history, anthropology, and philosophy to literature and political theory — this book will be essential reading for scholars, researchers and students of critical theory and the social sciences.

Table of Contents

1. Changing Theory: Concepts from the Global South    

Dilip M Menon                        

Part I: Relation

2. Ubuntu/Guanxi                                                                    

Jay Ke-Schutte

3. Tarbiyya                                                                             

Noha Fikry


Part II: Commensuration

4. Logic                                   

Edwin Etiyiebo

5. Andāj                                                                                  

Arjun Appadurai

6. Izithunguthu                                                            

John Wright and Cynthia Kros



Part III: The Political

7. Eddembe                                                                             

Edgar C. Taylor

8. Minzu                                                                                 

Saul Thomas

9. Kavi                                                                        

Shonaleeka Kaul

10. Rajo guṇa                                                                          

William Pinch

Part IV: The Social

11. Asabiyya                                                                           

Magid Shihade

12. Dadani                                                                  

Kaveh Yazdani

13. Marumakkathāyam                                                

Mahmood Kooria

Part V: Words in Motion

14. Rantau                                                                              

Saarah Jaapie

15. Musāfir                                                                             

Mahvish Ahmed

16. Feitiço /Umbanda              

Iracema Dulley


Part VI: Rooted Words

17. Nongqayi / Nongqai                                                           

Hlonipha Mokoena

18. Naam                                                                                

Amy Niang


Part VII: Indeterminacy

19. Pajubā                                                                               

Caio Simoes de Araujo

20. Ardhanāriswara                                                                 

David Szanton and Shalini Kumari


Part VIII: Insurrection

21. Awqāt/Aukāt                                                                                             

Francesca Orsini

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Dilip M Menon is the Mellon Chair in Indian Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, and Director, Centre for Indian Studies in Africa. He is a historian of South Asia and has recently been working with oceanic histories and questions of epistemology from the global south. His recent publications include the co-edited volumes Capitalisms: Towards a Global History (Oxford, 2020) and the forthcoming Cosmopolitan Cultures and Oceanic Thought (Routledge, 2022).


“Changing Theory aims, with intelligence and energy, to engage in the remaking of our conceptual instrumentarium by recovering, through key-word analyses in sixteen languages, what capitalism, colonialism, and the rest sought to destroy. The contributors constitute a galaxy of today’s most innovative and critical thinkers from the global South, and make this book an unprecedented—and never more needed—resource for theoretical renovation.”

Sheldon Pollock, Arvind Raghunathan Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit and South Asian Studies, Columbia University

“…an impressive array of essays evidencing what today is indisputable: the irreversible shift of knowledge, understanding, and sensing away from 500 years of the consolidation of Western knowledge, regulations of knowing, and vocabulary. The book has stellar reconstitutions of hitherto marginalized praxes of living and knowing…a signal contribution to the explosion of the North Atlantic Universal and the rise of the Planetary Pluriversal.”

Walter D. Mignolo, William Hane Wannamaker Distinguished Professor of Romance Studies, Duke University and author of The Politics of Decolonial Investigations (2021) 

“…takes aim at the unconcern for linguistic difference in critical vocabularies of the global public sphere, and introduces a rich selection of keywords…that critique colonial modes of measurement, logical argument, and physical orientation in the world. The juxtaposition of terms, each examined from the perspective of the specific language in which its theory speaks, advances the project of constituting non-universalist epistemologies. A bold experiment in critical world-building from the global south, this volume is an indispensable tool for reimagining concept-geography, [and] cultural translation… Changing Theory changes ‘theory’ as we know it.”

Emily Apter, Silver Professor of French and Comparative Literature, New York University

Changing Theory forces us to think the world differently by ‘doing things with words’. This brilliant set of reflections by major contemporary theorists on key concepts from the languages of the Global South is a rich provocation to change the world by changing the tools we think with.”

Supriya Chaudhuri, Professor Emeritus, Jadavpur University